The Infectious Disease Society, a student group focused on combining global public health and clinical medicine, hosted a soft launch for a new magazine Feb. 28 in The Underground at the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center . The club hopes to release the post online during National Public Health Week from April 4-10.
The club board decided to launch the magazine to provide more opportunities for club members to engage with IDS beyond the monthly meetings, where students can present various topics and public health articles, said IDS founder Tania Sawaya ’22.
During the soft launch, the IDS E-Board partnered with small groups of potential club members to get to know them and talk about their individual interests.
“It was just cool to meet the diverse Brown community and see where everyone’s interests lie,” said IDS E-Board member Max Ulibarri ’23.
“In the field of infectious diseases, the focus is on … HIV, tuberculosis, malaria” and, more recently, COVID-19, said potential writer Afnan Nuruzzaman ’24. “I hope a magazine like this can educate Brown students more about infectious diseases — not just the big three or four, but others that can pose a threat as well,” he added.
The club seeks to cover a wide range of topics in its magazine, including politics and health and health disparities and disease spotlights, according to Ulibarri.
The magazine is “not just run by all the heavyweight academics,” Ulibarri said. “Rather, it’s more focused on public health stories.”
Ulibarri added that he hopes to write about health care in the United States and the health impacts of the Build Back Better Act, President Biden’s proposed social spending legislative program.
Nuruzzaman, who is interested in politics and aspires to be an infectious disease researcher or a physician-scientist, said he hopes to write articles that focus on the intersection between public health and politics.
The magazine will also include creative works such as poetry, fiction and artwork, according to Sawaya.
“Even if you’re not in pre-health, (public health) is such a universal experience,” Sawaya said. “I couldn’t imagine the magazine without a way to express your own story or a story you’ve heard.”
“It kind of harkens back to the idea that we focus on public health stories, rather than cold, hard data-based science,” she added. “So we want to include not only fact after fact, but bring in other perspectives.”
IDS, which has been active on campus for three semesters, offers the opportunity to “engage in the real science and literature that is currently happening in the field outside of the classroom, … to have round tables and to learn from other students,” said Sawaya.
The club offers two streams with different orientations: a pre-clinical stream and a public health and social justice stream.
The preclinical track offers students the opportunity to attend monthly meetings to discuss primary research in the field. The public health and social justice component seeks to be more action-oriented, with meetings centered on discussing the societal impacts of infectious diseases and ways to mitigate them, according to Sawaya.
The public health track also hosts campaigns and events, like an upcoming Chipotle fundraiser to buy and donate mosquito nets — the most successful intervention to reduce the risk of malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases, a said Ulibarri.
“When I first came to Brown, I saw a distinct lack (of) global health talk,” Sawaya said. “If I had founded IDS before the pandemic hit, I don’t think we would have seen so much engagement with the club,” she added.
The club is also looking to involve members in a research project this semester examining trends in vaccine hesitancy, Ulibarri said. The project is similar to “research projects that are done in the real world in academia”, and will examine vaccination rates against influenza, COVID-19 and potentially other diseases to “elucidate information about what gives rise to vaccine hesitancy,” he added. .
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Infectious disease epidemiology is “such a multidisciplinary field,” Sawaya said. “I want to make sure that people who aren’t in pre-health or pre-med can engage with the subject because there’s so much to work on. It’s primary care and (it) affects everyone – it’s kind of the great equalizer.