Mary Gates Endowment For Students

Megana Shivakumar

Mary Gates Research Scholar, Winter 2022

Research Project: Hepatitis B Prevalence and Risk Factors among Adults Living with HIV in South Africa

Project Description: My current research is looking at adults with both Hepatitis B and HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and utilizing the statistical program R to look at different outcomes of adults with these diseases. This data was collected in a clinic in South Africa from 2013 to 2017, and participants were enrolled into this study if they had HIV, and then were later tested to see if they had Hepatitis B as well. The primary purpose of this work is to understand the prevalence of Hepatitis B within HIV infected adults, and identify specific factors that may lead to worse outcomes. One of the reasons I believe this work is important is because there is a specific medication, Tenofovir, that can be used to treat both Hepatitis B and HIV. It is important to identify factors that make having both diseases more common in order to target this medication towards groups that may be at higher risk.

What have you learned throughout your research project?

I have learned so much about the scientific process as a whole, from the very beginning of how studies are planned and executed to the ending stages of data analysis and writing a manuscript. With help from my mentor, I have been able to participate in these various stages and understand the complexities of conducting a scientific study. 

What piece of advice do you have for future applicants?

I would highly encourage all Mary Gates applicants to reach out to labs and PIs who do research in topics or fields that you are interested in! Even if you may not have a lot of prior experience in traditional research, a lot of skills that you have picked up in school or other aspects of life will translate into making you a good scientist. Although it can be difficult to get in contact with researchers, I encourage students to stay persistent, as it only takes one response to make a connection with a future mentor!