Faculty Visitor Program: Ethiopia (AAU)

Over the summer of 2019, Emory welcomed Dr. Tigist Bacha Heye and Mr. Eskadmas Yinesu Belay who comprised the first cohort of guests through the Emory University – Addis Ababa University (AAU) Faculty Visitor Program. The program aims to deepen existing collaborations between Emory and AAU, seed new research collaborations, and cultivate new research connections by welcoming faculty members from AAU to Emory for a short-term stay. Dr. Heye was hosted by Dr. Brittany Murray and Dr. Tal Berkowitz from Emory School of Medicine’s (SOM) department of Pediatrics. Mr. Belay was hosted by Dr. Tian Liu and Tosin Kayode from the Winship Cancer Institute.

“Emory has strong ties to Ethiopia and to Addis Ababa University. Our goal in establishing the Emory University-Addis Ababa University Faculty Visitor Program is to strengthen our existing network by building bridges between the two institutions to foster innovation through scholarship,” said Philip Wainwright, Vice Provost of Global Strategy and Initiatives. “The first cohort of faculty visitors sets a high standard for the quality of collaborative work that is possible through this partnership.”

In fall 2018, Emory established a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Addis Ababa University for the program, which is administered by the Office of Global Strategy and Initiatives (GSI)whose mission is to support, promote, and expand Emory’s global engagement. This program is an exciting addition to Emory’s global engagement portfolio and builds on Emory’s deep ties with Ethiopia and Addis Ababa University (AAU).

Dr. Tigist Bacha Heye, associate professor of pediatric emergency and critical care medicine at AAU, serves as the head of the pediatric emergency care unit at Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Her current research focuses on improving triaging and resuscitation practices in the pediatric emergency department at Black Lion Hospital.

One initiative that the collaboration is exploring is the expansion of the use of simulation-based training to improve nurse and physician response time and teamwork. Given the limited access to timely advanced imaging in the emergency department at Black Lion Hospital, the team is creating a curriculum to build skills in both the use of and teaching of point-of-care ultrasound, both for diagnostic and resuscitation practices.

Dr. Heye’s research builds on an existing collaboration with Dr. Murray and Dr. Berkowitz. Both Emory faculty hosts are assistant professors of pediatric emergency medicine, and Dr. Murray is the Global Health Residency Track Director for the Department of Pediatrics. In their application proposing Dr. Heye’s visit, they outlined the mutually beneficial anticipated outcomes of her spending time at Emory. This would allow collaborative work on evidence-based curricula, customized for the pediatric emergency department at Black Lion Hospital (AAU’s main teaching hospital) with remote support from Emory faculty. Emory would learn from helping to create curricula with the promise for broad impact in Ethiopia and, potentially, the region and continent, through connections with the African Federation of Emergency Medicine. Additionally, Murray and Berkowitz noted the benefit of “a strengthened partnership with AAU, where we have been graciously hosted for years.”

During the four weeks that Dr. Heye’s visit to Emory, she and her faculty hosts worked on plans to improve the pediatric emergency admission process at Black Lion Hospital, and she also gave a lecture on Ethiopian case management procedures for Emory faculty, fellows, and residents. As one of two pediatric emergency physicians at Black Lion, Dr. Heye emphasizes the importance of simulations to establish efficient intake procedures. She constructed pediatric emergency room simulations and had hands-on training in new, iPad-based applications for the use of ultrasound technology in emergency pediatrics.

When asked about her motivation to participate in the Faculty Visitor Program, Dr. Heye answered, “We want this to be a research partnership to help not only clinical and patient improvement, but also for academic gain to propagate our research findings in other African countries about simulation-based learning in the emergency room and how ultrasound can be used for pediatrics.”

Eskadmas Yinesu Belay is chief medical physicist and lecturer in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Addis Ababa University. His clinical interest is in the support and development of radiation oncology services in low- and middle-income countries, focusing on patient safety and treatment quality in resource-constrained radiotherapy settings across Africa.

Mr. Belay connected with Emory colleagues who share his focus on improving safety procedures and quality assurance through more robust training for those using radiotherapy technology. In their application, Dr. Tian Liu, associate professor of radiation oncology and vice-chair and director of medical dosimetry at Winship Cancer Institute, and Tosin Kayode, chief medical dosimetrist at Winship Cancer Institute, emphasized that both Emory and AAU would benefit from the resulting research, education, and clinical training through their work with Yinesu. Dr. Liu noted that hosting Belay “would lay the foundation for broader research collaboration in radiation oncology between AAU and Winship Cancer Institute,” and that the subsequent research would be useful in designing studies specific to the Ethiopian population.

“Medical physics is a very young profession in Ethiopia. The Faculty Visitor Program has been a great opportunity to meet colleagues at Emory who are very experienced and highly skilled in radiotherapy physics,” said Mr. Belay. “Dr. Liu and I have already drafted a research project and presented at a conference on the topic of patient safety and treatment quality to create a quality assurance program.”

The Faculty Visitor program was designed to have broad appeal, and applicants from any school or discipline are encouraged to apply. The Office of Global Strategy and Initiatives (GSI) will announce and begin accepting proposals for the second program cycle in early 2020.

“The program parameters are broad by design,” said GSI Director of Programs and Services, Chris Rapalje. “We hope faculty from across Emory will take advantage of this unique opportunity to foster cross-cultural collaboration.”

Learn more about the Emory University - Addis Ababa University Faculty Visitor Program established by the Office of Global Strategy and Initiatives (GSI) and Emory’s longstanding engagement in Ethiopia.