Medical student is one of 21 to win tropical medicine fellowship

Upstate Medical University student Dan Farrell is among the 21 Kean Fellows in Tropical Medicine for 2018. The Benjamin H. Kean Travel Fellowship in Tropical Medicine is awarded annually to support medical students involved in clinical or research electives in tropical areas, and is designed to encourage young researchers to continue their work in tropical medicine and hygiene while recognizing their achievements thus far.

Farrell’s research project is “Upper respiratory tract infections among non-hospitalized children under 5 years of age in Ecuador: Associations with tropical climate and air quality indicators.” He recently provided an update and photos on his research, including an opportunity to work with Desiree LaBeaud, MD, of Stanford University, chair of the American Committee on Arthropod-Borne Viruses (ACAV) subgroup and Chair of the Ben Kean Fellowship Committee.

“It has been great to meet up with Dr. Desiree LaBeaud here in Ecuador and learn about the similarities and differences between her team’s work in Kenya and the work of the team here in Ecuador.

The fellowship has allowed Farrell to be in Ecuador for six weeks working on a pediatric respiratory virus surveillance study in order to better understand the seasonality of common etiologies (such as RSV) and the influence that climate and air quality may have on virus transmission.

“I have been working with a local pediatrician to take nasal swabs from children under age 5 with acute upper respiratory infections, in addition to taking air quality measurements at various sites. Through this ASTMH fellowship, I have been able to return to Ecuador to do elective time during my fourth year, fostering past connections and developing new ones with researchers both from Ecuador and the United States. None of this would have been possible without the support of a Kean fellowship, and it has opened my mind to new career possibilities and future projects that are of interest to local stakeholders in Ecuador.

Farrell’s faculty mentor at Upstate and in the field is Joseph Domachowske, MD, professor of pediatrics. “It is really amazing to see how much the team has grown here and the results that have start to come out of this important work.”

The fellowship is named after Benjamin H. Kean (1912-1993), the founder of the tropical medical program and a renowned professor of clinical tropical diseases and public health at Cornell University. In addition to being one of the most respected and admired educators at Cornell, Kean is known for his work in discovering the cause of traveler’s diarrhea and for being a physician to many of the best-known personalities of the 20th Century, ranging from artist Salvador Dali to Broadway lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II to writer Sherwood Anderson and the Shah of Iran.

From left: Dan Farrell, Mary Beth Domachowske, Freddy Pizarro, MD, Cinthya Cueva, Mariuxi Salazar and Joseph Domachowske, MD, on a break from research in Ecuador.

Back to Feature Stories →