2019 G.E.R.M. Awardees

congratulations to the 2019-2020 G.E.R.M. Awardees

Medical students from around the U.S. submitted their applications to receive a $4,000 stipend for their ID/HIV research projects and receive mentorship through the IDSA Foundation’s G.E.R.M. program. Each of the 61 awardees brings a unique perspective and skill to the field of ID research.

meet the awardees


Afia Adu-Gyamfi

Mentor: Keith Hamilton, MD

Institution: Medical College of Wisconsin

Project: Impact of Removal of Automatic Seven-Day Stop Orders for Inpatient Antimicrobials

Morgan Birabaharan

Mentor: Stefann Haggman, MD, MSc, FAAP, FIDSA, FISTM

Institution: Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell

Project: Understanding Typhoid Vaccine Hesitancy Among South Asian Immigrant Families and Learning about Metropolitan Disease Control Challenges

Lily Bonadonna

Mentor: Jennifer Veltman, MD

Institution: Wayne State University School of Medicine

Prjoject: HIV Homecare: Understanding its Impact

Stephanie Cabral

Mentor: Anthony Harris, MD, MPH

Institution: University of Maryland School of Medicine

Project: Comorbidity and Severity of Illness Risk Adjustment for Clostridiodes difficile 

Giorgio Caturegli

Mentor: Christopher Hoffmann, MD, MPH

Institution: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Project: Home Link at Tshepong Hospital, South Africa

Spencer Chang

Mentor: Vance G. Fowler, Jr. MD, MHS, FIDSA

Institution: Duke University School of Medicine

Project: The role of agr in the host immune response to Staphylococcus aureus biofilms

Paulina Coutifaris

Mentor: William R. Short, MD, MPH

Institution: Perelman School of Medicine

Project: Knowledge and practice of breastfeeding among HIV positive mothers

Rebecca Crowther

Mentor: George S. Deepe, Jr., MD

Institution: University of Cincinnati College of Medicine/Cincinnati Children’s Hospital

Project: The Role of L-Arginine Synthesis in the CD4+ T cell Response to Pulmonary

Hannah Cunningham

Mentor: David Wohl, MD

Institution: Duke University School of Medicine

Project: Seroprevalence of Ebola Virus among Sexual Partners of Survivors of Ebola Virus 

Afkera Daniel

Mentor: Alison C. Roxby, MD, MSc

Institution: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Project: Understanding Unprotected Sex Among Adolescent Girls in Kenya: Epidemiologic

Danielle Davis

Mentor: Heather Young, MD

Institution: University of Colorado School of Medicine

Project: Frequent door openings during surgery and surgical site infections

Xiaomeng Deng

Mentor: Jeffrey D. Klausner, MD, MPH

Institution: David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Project: Molecular Assay to Predict Cefixime Susceptibility of Neisseria Gonorrhoeae

Kylie Disch

Mentor: Walter Dehority, MD, MSc

Institution: University of New Mexico School of Medicine

Project: Genome sequencing of colonized S. aureus in non-infected pediatric patients

Emily Evans

Mentor: Russell Kempker, MD, MSc

Institution: Emory University

Project: Predictors of poor outcomes amongst patients with tuberculous meningitis: the impact of drug-resistance.

Amanda Farrell

Mentor: Gregory C. Gray, MD, MPH, FIDSA

Institution: Duke University School of Medicine

Project: Assessing the prevalence of Influenza D virus in swine environments and among swine workers in Northern Vietnam

Erin Felton

Mentor: Andrea Hahn MD, MS

Institution: The George Washington University

Project: Subtherapeutic Beta-Lactam Antibiotic Exposure Leads to Pathogen Dominance in the Cystic Fibrosis Airway

Ephrat Fisseha

Mentor: Lisa Abuogi, MD, MSc

Institution: University of Colorado School of Medicine

Project: The effect of HIV seroconcordant and serodiscordant relationships on prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) outcomes and male support in HIV positive pregnant women in Kisumu, Kenya

Joseph Friedman

Mentor: Jeffrey D. Klausner, MD, MPH

Institution: UCLA

Project: The Role of Fentanyl in HIV Seroconversion among PWID in Tijuana, Mexico

Gabriella Go

Mentor: Karen J. Vigil, MD

Institution: UT Health Science Center at Houston

Project: AIDS and Race as Predictors of Hepatitis B Surface Antigen Clearance in HIV/HBV Coinfected Patients

Kenneth Gunasekera

Mentor: Ted Cohen, MD, MPH, DPH

Institution: Yale University School of Medicine

Project: Comparing diagnostic yield of tests in the clinical evaluation of children for tuberculosis in a high TB/HIV co-burden setting

J.T. Henderson

Mentor: Alice Thornton, MD

Institution: University of Kentucky College of Medicine

Project: Serious Infections Associated with Injection Drug Use

Fernando Ibanhes

Mentor: Philip A. Chan, MD, MS

Institution: Alpert Medical School of Brown University

Project: Implementation and impact of a novel model for sexually transmitted infections testing at a publicly funded sexual health clinic in New York City

Jennifer Jenks

Mentor: Sallie R. Permar, MD, PhD

Institution: Duke University School of Medicine

Project: Immune correlates of protection against congenital cytomegalovirus transmission in an HIV+ mother/infant cohort

Hansol Kang

Mentor: Susan E. Coffin, MD, MPH

Institution: University of Florida College of Medicine

Project: Epidemiology of norovirus outbreaks in long-term care facilities in Philadelphia

Mattie Kerns

Mentor: Jessica Cataldi, MD, MSCS

Institution: University of Colorado School of Medicine

Project: Identifying characteristics and motivations of pro-vaccine parents

Leah Loerinc

Mentor: Andres F. Camacho-Gonzalez, MD, MSc

Institution: Emory University

Project: Sexually Transmitted Infections among HIV Infected Youth in Atlanta, GA

Alexandra Lombardo

Mentor: Christopher Hoffmann, MD, MPH

Institution: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Project: Mortality Analysis of HIV Patients at Tshepong Hospital

Jez Marston

Mentor: Douglas F. Nixon, MD, PhD

Institution: Weill Cornell Medical College

Project: HIV-induced Anti-cancer Immunity in Prostate Cancer

Matthew Matson

Mentor: Daniel S. Chertow, MD, MPH, FCCP

Institution: Marshall University and NIH/NIAID

Project: Host response in human Ebola virus disease

Christopher Mayer

Mentor: Roberto P. Santos, MD, MSCS, FAAP, AAHIVS

Institution: Albany Medical College

Project: Mental Health and PrEP Adherence and Retention Among Adolescents

Angela McGaugh

Mentor: Maria L. Alcaide, MD

Institution: University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

Project: Bio-behavioral Correlates of Rectal Inflammation, Implications for HIV Acquisition

Emily Moore

Mentor: April C. Pettit, MD, MPH

Institution: Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Project: Healthcare Provider Attitudes and Knowledge Around Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for the Prevention of HIV-Infection in Tennessee

Yoelkys Morales

Mentor: Alysse G. Wurcel, MD, MS

Institution: Tufts University School of Medicine

Project: Screening and Treatment Priorities for Hospitalized Patients

Brendan Mullen

Mentor: Claudia Hawkins, MD, MPH

Institution: Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Project: Evaluating the effects of antivirals on changes in renal function in HIV, HIV/HBV and HBV-infected Tanzanians

Meghna Nagam

Mentor: Mark S. Dworkin, MD, MPHTM

Institution: University of Illinois at Chicago

Project: Police Intervention and ART In Female Sex Workers in India

April Nguyen

Mentor: Cesar A. Arias, MD, MSc, PhD, FIDSA

Institution: University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Project: Role of Cardiolipin Synthase in Enterococcus Faecalis Daptomycin Resistance

Simon Nin Zhu

Mentor: Luis A. Marcos, MD, MPH, FIDSA

Institution: Stony Brook University

Project: Evaluating the efficacy of smartphone-assisted point-of-care diagnosis by training community health volunteers in soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) identification in the Peruvian rainforest while comparing urban and rural 

Naomi Nkinsi

Mentor: Paul K. Drain, MD, MPH, FACP

Institution: University of Washington School of Medicine – Seattle

Project: The Effect of Food Insecurity on ART initiation and HIV Outcomes among newly diagnosed adults in an urban township of South Africa

Clayton Otter

Mentor: Rahul M. Kohli, MD, PhD

Institution: Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Project: Targeting the Bacterial SOS Response to Prevent Acquired Antibiotic Resistance

Oleksandra Pashchenko

Mentor: Frederick L. Altice, MD, MA

Institution: Giesel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

Project: Integrating opioid agonist therapy and primary care in Ukraine: a randomized controlled trial to evaluate impacts on health outcomes for HIV positive people who inject drugs

Kayla Paulosky

Mentor: Matthew B. Laurens, MD, MPH

Institution: University of Maryland School of Medicine

Project: Evaluation of Photoacoustic Flow Cytometry for malaria diagnosis- a promising noninvasive tool for malaria elimination campaigns

Nicholas Peterson

Mentor: Read Pukkila-Worley, MD, FIDSA

Institution: University of Massachusetts Medical School

Project: Nuclear hormone receptor control of intestinal innate immune response

Mai-Tram Riquier

Mentor: Irving Hoffman, PA, MPH

Institution: University of North Carolina School of Medicine

Project: HPTN 074 Systems navigation and psychosocial counseling (SNaP) study

Rebecca Rubinstein

Mentor: Jessica Lin, MD

Institution: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Project: Capillary versus venous gametocyte density in asymptomatic malaria

Christopher Ruggiero

Mentor: Divya Ahuja, MD, MRCP

Institution: University of South Carolina School of Medicine- Columbia

Project: Identifying Impact of Health Determinants on Effectiveness of South Carolina (SC) HIV Clinic’s Rapid Engagement Model

John Ryan

Mentor: Stephen Jordan, MD, PhD

Institution: Indiana University School of Medicine

Project: Metabolic pathways associated with natural clearance of Chlamydia trachomatis infection in women

Bethany Sederdahl

Mentor: John V. Williams, MD

Institution: University of Pittsburgh

Project: Influenza C in Children with Acute Respiratory Infection

Gabriel Spieler

Mentor: Edgar Turner Overton, MD

Institution: University of Alabama at Birmingham

Project: HIV and Diabetes in the Era of Antiretroviral Therapy

Sarah Stuccio

Mentor: Lisa A. Spacek, MD, PhD, FIDSA, 

Institution: Sindey Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University

Project: Prevalence of asymptomatic gonorrhea and chlamydia infections among Ryan White HIV population visiting a Center City Philadelphia HIV clinic

Lucy Studemeister

Mentor: Upinder Singh, MD

Institution: Ponce Health Sciences University

Project: Identification of compounds active against pathogenic amebae

Anne Sung

Mentor: Joseph D. Tucker, MD, PhD

Institution: University of Connecticut School of Medicine

Project: Community Engagement, Community Connectedness, and Social Cohesion Among Men Who Have Sex With Men in China Participating in Pay-It-Forward Gonorrhea and Chlamydia Testing: A Secondary Analysis

Matthew Szaniawski

Mentor: Adam M. Spivak, MD

Institution: University of Utah

Project: Targeting chronic inflammation in HIV-1 through tyrosine kinase inhibition

Corinne Thornton

Mentor: Susan C. Bleasdale, MD, FACP

Institution: University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago

Project: Investigation of Risk Factors for Congenital Syphilis and Syphilis Infection Among Pregnant Women at an Urban Chicago Hospital

Kristina Tymes-Wilbekin

Mentor: Jeanne Marrazzo, MD, MPH

Institution: University of Alabama at Birmingham

Project: Understanding Reproductive Health Knowledge and Perceptions of Multipurpose Prevention Technologies Among Adolescent African American Females

Frances Vernon

Mentor: Jose R. Castillo-Mancilla, MD

Institution: University of Colorado School of Medicine

Project: Social and Demographic Determinants of Antiretroviral Drug Adherence and Exposure

Caroline Wang

Mentor: Bettina Fries, MD, FIDSA

Institution: Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University

Project: MAb therapy for disrupting hypervirulent K. pneumoniae biofilms

Julian Weiss

Mentor: Serena Spudich, MD

Institution: Yale University School of Medicine

Project: PET Imaging to Measure Synaptic Density and its Association with Neurocognitive Impairment in People Living with HIV on Antiretroviral Therapy

Thomas Weppelmann

Mentor: Anthony P. Cannella, MD, MSc, FACP

Institution: Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine

Project: Researching the antimicrobial activity of chitosan microparticles against Vibrio cholerae for the purpose of developing a luminal agent for the treatment and prevention of cholera

Gideon Wolf

Mentor: Nevil J. Singh, PhD

Institution: University of Maryland School of Medicine

Project: Towards an HIV cure by eliminating memory T cells harboring latent virus

Francis Wright

Mentor: Alexander Marson, MD, MPH

Institution: University of California, San Francisco

Project: Modeling Genes Involved in Immunodeficiency Using CRISPR-Cas9

Albert Zhou

Mentor: Mark Travassos, MD, MSc

Institution: University of Maryland, Baltimore

Project: The role of RIFINs and their interaction with blood type in vulnerability to severe malaria in Malian children


Grants to medical students to support a longitudinal mentored clinical learning and/or research project for up to a year, on infectious diseases-related topics including HIV.

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