Turkey fellowships give HSPH postdocs chance to teach, collaborate

Left to right: HSPH research fellows Cherie Ramirez, Jennifer Erdrich, and Myriam Afeiche with Dr. Sezer Ş. Komsuoğlu, Rector of Kocaeli University (center left)

July 19, 2013 — Three Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) postdoctoral researchers spent a week at Kocaeli University in Turkey in May 2013 under a fellowship program offering them opportunities to lecture, learn, and establish collaborations with fellow academics.

The Kocaeli University School of Medicine International Travel Award, now in its second year, provides postdocs with professional opportunities at one of the renowned medical schools of Turkey. The award was established through the efforts of Mehmet Furkan Burak, a research fellow in the HSPH Department of Molecular Metabolism and an alumnus of Kocaeli University.

The postdocs who traveled to Turkey in May included [[Myriam Afeiche]], research fellow, Department of Nutrition; [[Jennifer Erdrich]], research fellow, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences; and [[Cherie Ramirez]], research fellow, Center for Health Decision Science, and curriculum fellow, Harvard Global Health Institute.

While in Turkey, Ramirez gave presentations on her PhD work in genome engineering technology development as well as on the curriculum reform efforts at Harvard Medical School; Erdrich spoke about surgery training in the United States; and Afeiche presented information on studies investigating the links between fertility and nutrition.

“Traveling to Turkey was a fantastic experience, both professionally and personally,” said Ramirez. “We learned a great deal, such as the fact that the country underwent dramatic national health system reforms in 2003 and is being studied as a model by scholars and health ministers around the world.”

“At Kocaeli University School of Medicine, HSPH postdocs are exposed to different cultures, different research fields, and different health systems,” Burak said. “This award gives postdocs a chance to expand their horizons and presents a wonderful and unique international experience.”

Burak said he hopes in the future to increase the number of HSPH recipients of the Kocaeli award as well as make the program bilateral by identifying opportunities for scholars from Kocaeli to visit HSPH.

Karen Feldscher