Two new PhD students in Sexual and Reproductive Health

Diana Buitrago and Ranjana Gigi

31.07.2019 – Diana Buitrago won a Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship and a SSPH+ GlobalP3HS Fellowship to study «The science of prevalence». Ranjana Gigi won a Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences MD-PhD award to study «Genital tract infections, the vaginal microbiome and preterm birth in South Africa».

Diana Buitrago, from Colombia, aims to development an evidence-based tool to assess the risk of bias in prevalence studies. Prevalence is a widely used measurement in the field of epidemiology that describes the frequency of a condition in a defined group of people at a given time. Many decisions made in public health, and in the daily practice of healthcare are based on information derived from prevalence studies. But there is no universally accepted tool that researchers can use to assess the risk of bias in studies of prevalence. Diana will develop the concept for an initial Risk of Bias in prevalence studies tool, examine empirical evidence for risk of bias in a meta-epidemiological study, and then refine the tool, based on her findings. Diana already has experience of systematic reviews from her masters thesis in clinical epidemiology and her work with the Cochrane Collaboration. Prof. Nicola Low at ISPM Bern will be Diana’s main supervisor. Prof. Georgia Salanti will provide support for statistical aspects of this project.

Ranjana Gigi will complete her final examinations in medicine at the University of Zurich in September 2019. She will investigate the role of vaginal and cervical reproductive tract and sexually transmitted infections, and their co-occurrence with vaginal microbiota, in preterm birth (<37 weeks of gestation). Ranjana will conduct a cross-sectional study at Frere Hospital in the Eastern Cape in South Africa. Amongst this population, about 1 in 5 women has a preterm birth, 1 in 3 women has HIV infection and reproductive tract and sexually transmitted infections are very common. Prevention of the burden of disease from preterm birth is a global health priority, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Ranjana’s study addresses gaps in the evidence base about the descriptive epidemiology of genital tract infections in pregnancy and their association with preterm birth in the era of molecular methods for the detection of pathogens, pathobionts and microbiota. Prof. Nicola Low at ISPM Bern will be Ranjana’s main supervisor. Prof. Janneke van de Wijgert at Utrecht Medical Center, the Netherlands and the University of Liverpool, UK is her co-supervisor.

For more information about the award schemes: