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Research Assistant Alumni

Research Assistants (RAs) are integral members of the research team at the Medical Practice Evaluation Center (MPEC). At MPEC, RAs work with internationally recognized teams to improve clinical outcomes, increase value in health policy, and inform global public health.

Dr. Kenneth Freedberg, Director of MPEC

Dr. Ingrid Bassett, Co-Director of MPEC

RAs primarily work within one of MPEC’s two main pillars: Simulation Modeling and Decision Science Pillar or Implementation Science Pillar. RAs working primarily in the Simulation Modeling and Decision Science Pillar will conduct clinical and cost-effectiveness analyses on the treatment and prevention of chronic and infectious diseases. RAs working primarily in the Implementation Science Pillar will help develop, implement, and evaluate interventions to improve engagement in medical care. RAs engage in all phases of research, from conception and design of studies through written and oral presentation of findings.

-Dr. Ingrid Bassett

RAs have diverse academic interests, educational backgrounds, and career goals. MPEC is invested in the professional development of all RAs, regardless of intended career trajectory. Through faculty, fellow, and peer-to-peer mentorship, RAs are supported both during and after their time at MPEC. Our RAs typically go on to pursue medical school, graduate school, or research fellowships after 2-3 years with MPEC.

You can read about the experiences and next steps of some of our former RAs below.


Bridget Bunda

she/her/hers

Undergraduate Institution: Northeastern University
Major: Health Science
Years at MPEC: 2018-2020

MPEC Pillar: Implementation Science
Next Steps: Tulane University School of Medicine – MD/MPH Program

Take-aways: “While working as a research assistant at MPEC, I focused on Dr. Bassett’s projects related to access to HIV treatment and prevention, domestically and in South Africa. My time at MPEC provided me with a range of important research experiences, including NIH grant applications, project development & management, data analysis, and manuscript writing–all relevant to my current role as a MD/MPH candidate. I am grateful for having the opportunity to work with and learn from such a superb team including staff and faculty at MPEC, as well as our fantastic international colleagues.”


Ege Eskibozkurt

she/her/hers

Undergraduate Institution: Harvard College
Major: Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology
Minor: Global Health and Health Policy
Years at MPEC: 2019-2021

MPEC Pillar: Simulation Modeling and Decision Science
Next Steps: Harvard Medical School

Take-aways: “I learned a lot about finding the best data out there to use for our research and to never stop looking! I also learned how to form the right questions in a given model to answer important scientific questions.”

Favorite project: “I worked on cost-effectiveness analyses assessing COVID-19 testing strategies in Massachusetts and COVID-19 treatment with remdesivir. Seeing the impact we could have with modeling projects during a pandemic really inspired me.”


Giulia Park

she/her/hers

Undergraduate Institution: Middlebury College
Majors: Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Psychology
Years at MPEC: 2019-2021

MPEC Pillar: Simulation Modeling and Decision Science
Next Steps: Boston University School of Medicine

Take-aways: “I learned the importance of using research to advocate for patients and populations through public health policy, the benefits of interdisciplinary collaboration, and the impact of the health of the community on the health of the individual.”

Favorite project: “I enjoyed working on the CEACOV Return to Work Project. It was cool to work on one of the first iterations of the CEACOV model and then to watch it change and grow with our knowledge of COVID-19 – this really demonstrated the fluidity of medicine and research.”


Linh Le

she/her/hers

Undergraduate Institution: Amherst College
Majors: Mathematics and French
Years at MPEC: 2019-2021

MPEC Pillar: Simulation Modeling and Decision Science
Next Steps: University of Washington School of Medicine

Take-aways: “Through working alongside so many talented and compassionate physician-scientists who are committed to improving their local community and the world, I have learned that one of medicine’s greatest privileges is being able to apply one’s clinical knowledge and research skills to better the community and the world.”

Favorite projects: “While all of my projects at MPEC were amazing learning opportunities, two of them had the most impact on me. One was a cost-effectiveness analysis of cabotegravir, a long-acting injectable HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) among men who have sex with men and transgender women in the US, and the other was a cost-effectiveness analysis of management strategies for adults experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our collaborative project with the HPTN 083 trial team showed that cabotegravir must be priced comparably to the generic version in order to be cost-effective and increase critical access to PrEP, especially among populations at high risk of HIV.

In examining the potential benefits and drawbacks of different management strategies for adults experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic, I learned to consider a particular community’s available resources, or lack thereof, in making recommendations during a medical crisis. Throughout my medical career, unexpected challenges are bound to arise. In those times, I will try to capitalize on existing resources to champion the health of my patients [and] the well-being of my community.”


Nafisa Wara

she/her/hers

Undergraduate Institution: Harvard College
Major: Molecular and Cellular Biology
Minor: Global Health and Health Policy
Years at MPEC: 2019-2021

MPEC Pillar: Implementation Science
Next Steps: David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles

Take-away: “Importantly, I learned an incredible amount from my collaborators in Durban, South Africa–they taught me so much about effective study design with an eye towards the logistics of implementation, as well as the importance of developing relationships with community stakeholders when conducting community-centered research.”

Favorite project: “One of my favorite projects was working on a study with Dr. Ingrid Bassett piloting the delivery of contraceptives, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and STI testing in hair salons throughout Durban, South Africa. This project was so complex, with constant consideration of the clinical components needed to safely provide contraceptives and PrEP, as well as the socio-cultural factors involved when providing sexual and reproductive healthcare in community-based settings.”


Nicole McCann

she/her/hers

Undergraduate Institution: Wesleyan University
Majors: Biology and Science in Society
Years at MPEC: 2018-2021

MPEC Pillar: Simulation Modeling and Decision Science
Next Steps: Boston University School of Public Health – Health Services Research PhD Program

Take-away: “I learned about the importance of strong collaborations and teamwork.”

Favorite project: “At MPEC, I enjoyed working on a project related to the cost-effectiveness of branded vs. generic drugs for HIV prevention. I liked this project because it addressed an important area of medicine that is not always considered, which is the trade-off between collective access to drugs based on cost and potential marginal benefit for an individual.”


Ogochukwu Ufio

she/her/hers

Undergraduate Institution: Howard University
Majors: Clinical Laboratory Science
Years at MPEC: 2019-2021

MPEC Pillar: Simulation Modeling and Decision Science
Next Steps: Tulane University School of Medicine – MD/MPH Program

Take-away: “As an RA at MPEC, I learned to use cost-effectiveness analyses to provide valuable information [to inform health policy decisions]–a skill that can be applied to almost any field and that you will take with you beyond your time at MPEC. As an added bonus, you get to learn from the most brilliant minds in the field.”

Favorite project: “I worked with Dr. Anne Neilan to project the life expectancy of adolescents aged 13-24 years living with HIV. I found this population interesting because they are at a critical point in their care–transitioning from more hands-on pediatric care to less stable and hand-off adult care. This leaves them vulnerable to care gaps, especially youth with perinatal HIV who, because of better treatments, are now aging into adulthood. There is so much still unknown about this group and the challenge of this project was to help fill in those knowledge gaps. We presented our work at the 2021 International Workshop on HIV Pediatrics.”

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