East Meets Westwood
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by Paula Bronstein/Liaison
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,"
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."
is a contributing editor to UCLA Magazine. With additional
reporting by Robert Horn from Bangkok,
Thailand, and Andrew Downie from Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.