Talking about sex is uncomfortable. Such a conversation about private matters can be tough whether the discussion is with preteens or doctors. It is even more difficult when conducted in two different languages. But Marjorie Sable, Professor and Director of the Department of Social Work, works to break down the communication barrier when it comes to family planning.
Citing an analogy used by those in public health fields, Tina Bloom explains that health providers wait on the banks of the river to rescue people who have fallen in and are drowning. But Bloom wants to help more and help earlier. “At some point, you start to think about what’s happening upriver,” she says. As an assistant professor in the Sinclair School of Nursing, her research focuses on safety planning for women in abusive relationships; specifically, she is designing and testing a website that might help women find ways to lessen their danger.
After thirty years of research focused mainly on exploring biochemical and genetic questions in the laboratory, William Folk, Professor of Biochemistry at MU, has been pushing himself outside of the comfort and controlled environment of the lab with his newest project. As co-investigator on this nascent initiative, Folk explains its significance for him in moral and political terms—that is, how the reign of South Africa’s apartheid government contributed to the rapid and devastating spread of HIV in Africa, the epicenter of the AIDS pandemic. In South Africa, where an estimated 5 million people are infected by the disease, Folk feels an obligation to do what he can to help remedy this devastating statistic. With this call in mind, Folk and Professor Quinton Johnson of the University of the Western Cape have orchestrated a large collaboration of over a dozen colleagues from universities in South Africa and the United States, generously funded by a $4.4 million grant from the National Institute of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Creating a virtual center, which they’ve named The International Center for Indigenous Phytotherapy Studies (TICIPS—pronounced “Tee-Sips”), the center seeks to understand traditional healing practices in South Africa in terms of their safety and usefulness in treating infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and AIDS and the conditions associated with them.
Sable found that language was a definite barrier for the Hispanic population of Columbia. Many clinics and health-care providers do not have an adequate staff of translators. In response, her team trained a substantial group of interpreters. “There are now thirty more people in the Columbia community who can be available to provide medical interpretation,” she says.
William Folk and Quinton Johnson (of the University of the Western Cape) have orchestrated a large collaboration of over a dozen colleagues from universities in South Africa and the United States to create a virtual center that seeks to understand traditional healing practices in South Africa.