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Winter 2004
East Meets Westwood
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Thai drag queen

Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Liaison

BANGKOK, THAILAND: A Drag queen holds up a sign that reads "STOP AIDS" at the Bangkok Ga Festival and Parade.

EVERY SPRING QUARTER, Detels offers an international HIV seminar course in which UCLA/Fogarty trainees give presentations to their fellow students on the state of the epidemic in their home country. "It’s an eye-opening experience to hear the issues of concern and lessons learned from other places," says Warunee. It also contributes to a strong bond that develops among the trainees — one that continues long after they return home. "Besides the knowledge that we obtain, we’re able to build networks of important contacts, people who bring passion to their subjects and can be valuable resources in the future," Warunee says.

Dourado agrees that at least as valuable as the specifics of the science she learned at UCLA have been the friendships and professional connections she made with colleagues. "I see some of them at international meetings. If I have a major question about something, I write to them. We exchange papers. If there’s something major I have to deal with, I can always count on them to discuss things with me. We have kept that going," she says.

When Detels isn’t circuit-riding through the collaborating countries, he’s in regular e-mail contact with his former protégés, whose intense loyalty to UCLA has also paid off for several of Detels’ campus colleagues. Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus, director of the Center for HIV Identification, Prevention, and Treatment Services at UCLA, has worked with ex-trainees to implement a study in which migrant workers are taught to deliver HIV-prevention messages to their peers in outdoor markets in China; she has also worked with former trainees who head HIV programs in India, Vietnam and Thailand. "The infrastructure that exists has allowed a lot of us, in a short period of time, to do important work that would not have been possible without the pipeline established by the UCLA/Fogarty program," she says.

"This is like having a large family," Detels says, beaming with the pride of a parent. "You develop a lot of very close relationships. I’ve met a lot of amazing, highly committed individuals. To help them develop as trainees and then to see them walk into leadership positions in their home countries and make a difference has been fantastically rewarding."

Dan Gordon is a contributing editor to UCLA Magazine. With additional reporting by Robert Horn from Bangkok, Thailand, and Andrew Downie from Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.


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