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Student Spotlight: Panthea Pouramin

MSc Global Health student Panthea Pouramin

MSc Global Health student Panthea Pouramin in Honduras.

April 24, 2018

Panthea Pouramin had always been interested in global health. But it wasn’t until the fourth year of her undergraduate degree, when she took a course focusing on HIV epidemiology, that she began to see it as a field in which she could make a difference. “I discovered that many people were experiencing unnecessary disease burden simply because they didn’t have access to drugs,” explains Pouramin.   

“We often think that the cure for many of our diseases lies in medical breakthroughs or miracle drugs. But today many people are suffering from treatable or preventable diseases – and what’s needed is good healthcare policies,” she says.

That same year, Pouramin visited Honduras as part of an education delegation, volunteering in communities that lacked access to clean water. “For me, it solidified the importance of resolving global health disparities,” says Pouramin of the experience, which drove her next decision.

“I applied to join the MSc Global Health program at McMaster because I wanted to continue learning about global health – and, specifically, how to design effective global health strategies,” she says.

The program has afforded Pouramin the opportunity to pursue and combine her interests in clinical research, gender equality, and environmental sustainability. She credits her supervisor Dr. Mohit Bhandari and the MacOrtho Team with providing a supportive environment that has fuelled her passion for research. For her thesis, she is exploring gender biases and how they can prevent women from receiving timely treatment following an injury. “I’m interested in working on ways to reduce some of these systemic biases in the hopes that we can incrementally improve clinical outcomes for women,” says Pouramin.

Pouramin presented a summary of her thesis research in March for the Three Minute Thesis competition, a challenge she welcomed. “I had to distil years of work, with all its complexities and nuance, into a simple but powerful story of how I hope my research will benefit the community.”

Through the program, Pouramin has been able to tackle many different and pressing issues, translating project ideas into research and policy activities. As part of the Global Health and Environmental Policy course with Professor Buonsante, she and her peers investigated the health implications of pharmaceuticals, which pollute drinking water and the environment. The group conducted interviews with key stakeholders, internationally recognized think tanks, and world-renowned academics to gather research for the project. “It was really exciting to work with experts to research what policies could be beneficial in reducing some of the risks associated with pharmaceutical pollution,” says Pouramin.

Looking forward, Pouramin hopes to become a clinician working for international NGOs. “My goal is to be able to contribute meaningfully towards making strides in global health policies and actions to promote gender equality and health for all,” she says.