Joseph McKeen
Center for the Common Good

Maria Kempner
Project Manager, Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women's Hospital ~ Class of 1995

Posted July 07, 2010

Maria (DiLorenzo) Kempner '95 majored in biology and a minored in chemistry. In December 2009 she started working as a Project Manager in the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (DGHE).

Researchers at DGHE are engaged in studies that seek to advance the understanding and treatment of diseases worldwide with particular emphasis on Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and cardiovascular disease in resource-poor settings, where disease burden is greatest. Working closely with Partners in Health (PIH), they are dedicated to improving medical care in the world’s poorest areas. This collaboration brings the latest in academic medicine to underserved populations around the world.

As a Project Manager, Maria coordinates all aspects of an epidemiological study of Tuberculosis being held in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, where there is an extremely high prevalence of co-infection with both HIV and Tuberculosis and Lima, Peru where there has been a dramatic emergence of multidrug resistant (MDR) Tuberculosis.

Examining the diversity of tuberculosis bacteria present in the lungs of individual patients, recent studies have identified multiple distinct Tuberculosis strains and variants of single strains within individual patients. This suggests that the within-host ecology of Tuberculosis infection may be more complex than previously appreciated. Although the consequences of complex Tuberculosis infections are not yet well understood, case reports suggest that these types of infections can compromise the effectiveness of standard treatment and also erode the population-level benefits of disease control interventions.

It is hoped that the results from this DGHE/PIH research project will be used to identify new strategies for Tuberculosis control in areas where drug resistance and HIV compromise efforts to control the spread of this disease.

Over 9 million new cases of Tuberculosis are diagnosed each year.

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