2021–2022 NIDA Humphrey Fellows Begin Their Year at VCU

NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellows spend 10 months taking academic courses at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), meeting NIDA staff, and participating in professional development activities. NIDA International Program staff will meet the Fellows in late September and early October to learn about their interests and professional affiliation  plans. The 2021–2022 Humphrey Fellows are:

  • Yakob Ahmed (Ethiopia) is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of South Africa and director general for medical services at the Ethiopian Ministry of Health. His responsibilities include ensuring access to specialty and subspecialty care, designing policies to improve the quality of health care delivery, establishing a resilient emergency response and critical care service, and developing a transparent medical equipment and drug procurement and distribution system. For the past 2 years, Mr. Ahmed has been an active member of the national health executive team that is responsible for developing Ethiopia’s health policies. During his fellowship, he aspires to focus on improving his public health policy and management skills, supported by evidence generation and resource mobilization abilities. Mr. Ahmed holds master’s degrees in public health and business administration.
  • Aliyu Mohammed Baba (Nigeria) has been exploring and designing effective evidence-based prevention strategies for the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). He previously served as an assistant superintendent of narcotics for NDLEA and has been responsible for database management along with counseling, treating, and rehabilitating persons diagnosed with substance use disorders. He has completed a criminal investigation course organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Universal Prevention Curriculum training. A member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals (ISSUP), Mr. Baba plans on using the fellowship to acquire skills in project management, conducting public health campaigns, and writing grant applications. He also is interested in learning how to develop and implement effective evidence-based programs and to translate research into policy as well as enhancing his leadership skills.
  • Fara de Avila (Uruguay) holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology and a diploma in drug treatment and social reintegration of juvenile offenders. At the National Rehabilitation Institute, she is the national coordinator of penitentiary treatment, responsible for the processes of adapting, designing, implementing, and evaluating treatment programs addressing the risk factors directly associated with delinquent behaviors. She also has served as a consultant for the United Nations Development Programme, as a prison unit technical subdirector, and as a staff member at a multidisciplinary drug treatment program for juvenile offenders in Chile. During her fellowship, Ms. de Avila plans to adapt or design a low-cost, evidence-based drug treatment plan for prison inmates with substance use disorders, which she hopes to implement after her return to Uruguay. In addition, she intends to increase her skills in project management and program monitoring and evaluation. Finally, she is interested in conducting research in her country on drug use among prisoners and its relationship to the risk of recidivism.
  • Prachi Ghildyal (India) is an assistant professor and education coordinator at the Shillong Institute of Education, under the National Council of Educational Research and Training. A psychologist, she focuses on adolescent education, teacher training, and conducting research. A former member of the National Resource Group for teacher training, Dr. Ghildyal has coordinated diploma and certificate courses in counseling, early childhood care, and education. Additionally, she has conducted training on psychological testing, identification of children’s emotional problems, stress management, counseling skills, and peace education. During the fellowship year, Dr. Ghildyal plans to enhance her skills in counseling for adolescents and children, and to learn about community mobilization, crisis intervention, test development, and data analysis. She is interested in initiating a research project on sociocultural contributions to mental health and would like to explore partnerships with organizations such as the World Health Organization and UNICEF for research-based interventions. She hopes to initiate teacher training and community interventions for substance abuse and other mental health issues once she returns home.
  • Brian Maila (Zambia) is a psychiatrist at the Chainama Hills College Hospital, where he manages patients requiring specialist treatment and teaches junior medical staff to ensure the provision of efficient, effective, and quality patient care. He also promotes awareness of substance use and mental health through community outreach programs and the media. He holds a certificate in mental health care from Queensland University of Technology and a master’s of medicine in psychiatry from the University of Zambia. During his fellowship, Dr. Maila plans to focus on improving his skills in conducting needs assessments, surveys, and systematic reviews. He hopes to learn more about medication-assisted treatment and other evidence-based interventions for adolescents, women, and health care workers with substance use disorders. Additionally, he will enhance his skills related to project management, public speaking, and public health intervention development, implementation, and evaluation.
  • Giorgi Minasovi (Republic of Georgia) is a clinical social worker at Medical Center “Uranti,” where he conducts a biopsychosocial treatment intervention for inpatient care users. He also created a nongovernmental organization (NGO) to work with people who have substance abuse and underlying mental health issues, and he has collaborated with the Norwegian World Association of Psychosocial Rehabilitation and the World Psychiatric Association to develop proper treatment interventions for people with co-occurring disorders. Mr. Minasovi received a bachelor’s degree in social work from Tbilisi State University. He also has worked as a human rights trainer at the Council of Europe Georgian office and as a European Voluntary Service member in Estonia. He earned an international diploma in mental health, human rights, and law from WHO and the Indian Law Society. During his fellowship, Mr. Minasovi plans to focus on improving his public health policy management skills. He hopes to learn more about the American health care policy and firsthand treatment interventions for people who have co-occurring disorders. He would like to enhance his skills in conducting a public health campaign, grant writing, conducting research and public health program development and evaluation. 
  • Amanda Moses Ferreira (Trinidad and Tobago) is a scientific officer in the chemistry department at the Trinidad and Tobago Forensic Science Center. Her responsibilities include examination and analysis of drugs, corrosives, explosives, paint analysis, fire scene examination, serial number restoration, preparation of analytical reports, and expert testimony. Ms. Moses Ferreira has collaborated with organizations such as UNODC and has been actively involved in promoting evidence-based drug policies. She holds a master’s degree in forensic science with a specialization in chemistry and controlled substances from King’s College London and a law degree from the University of London, and she has a legal practicing certificate from the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad. Ms. Moses Ferreira plans to increase her technical skills in identifying new psychoactive substances and dismantling clandestine drug laboratories. She also hopes to enhance her skills related to project management, public health interventions, and training to help other stakeholders in the Caribbean address the opioid crisis and the changing drug abuse landscape.
  • Rukhshona Musaeva (Uzbekistan) is a cardiologist at Bukhara Multidisciplinary Regional Medical Center and an assistant at Bukhara State Medical Institute, where she teaches medical students and residents. She is involved in several programs organized by UNICEF and WHO, and she volunteers to work with children who have cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, or autism. During her fellowship program, Dr. Musaeva plans to enhance her knowledge of early diagnosis, treatment, social adaptation, and rehabilitation of patients with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, or autism. She plans to improve her knowledge and skills in the early prevention of cerebral palsy and explore issues of inclusive learning.
  • Naseem Ramadhan (Iraq) is a psychiatrist working as a mental health and psychosocial technical advisor to international NGOs. His responsibilities include building the capacity of governmental and community-based organizations through developing training curricula, technical tools, and policy and implementation guidelines to support national mental health services. He contributes to the development plans and strategies to ensure that mental health-related issues are addressed in accordance with current policies. In recent years, Dr. Ramadhan has been actively involved in conducting national needs assessments and studies related to the barriers to accessing mental health services and the stigma that can lead to discrimination, particularly focusing on vulnerable communities and cities targeted by armed conflicts. These studies were conducted in collaboration with UN agencies and Iraq’s health ministry, and they were funded by the U.S. government and the European Commission. During his fellowship, Dr. Ramadhan plans to focus on improving his project management skills, running public health campaigns to reduce stigma, and learning more about the structure and funding of the U.S. health system.
  • Helen Taku (Cameroon) is a project coordinator for the Poor and Needy Philanthropic NGO in Cameroon. She works in crisis zones in the southwest region of Cameroon addressing issues associated with substance use such as sexual violence on young girls and women, teenage pregnancies, HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections. Ms. Taku has completed training programs organized by the University of Geneva, the Association for Public Health Action, the United Nations Protection Cluster, the United Nations Population Fund, and Queensland University of Technology. Ms. Taku hopes to learn more about effective community-based approaches to preventing substance misuse, and treatment of substance use and dependence, especially with adolescents.
  • Sonam Tobgay, M.D. (Bhutan), leads the psychiatry department at the Military Hospital Thimphu and was the first psychiatrist in the military. He is also an ISSUP International Certified Addiction Professional. Dr. Tobgay was part of the national team that developed the Bhutan Mental Health Strategy and Action Plan and was instrumental in introducing opioid substitution therapy with buprenorphine in the country. He also was part of the multi-sectoral task force that conducted nationwide advocacy campaigns on mental health and substance use issues for high school students; played a role amending the Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances, and Substance Abuse Act of Bhutan; and is part of the COVID-19 National Mental Health Response Team. During his fellowship, Dr. Tobgay plans to learn about innovative approaches to substance abuse treatment and prevention. He also would like to acquire knowledge and skills for building training programs and workforce development, conduct surveys, and improve the psychological assessment of military in his country.
  • Dongmei Yan (China) is an attending doctor with a specialization in the field of HIV/AIDS at the Infectious Disease Hospital of Chengdu, where she provides clinical care, medical consultation, and training. In 2014, Dr. Yan completed the NIDA Clinical Trials Network Good Clinical Practice course and has been actively involved in national and global clinical trials. She was the site-principal investigator (PI) for the national technologies research and design program, and is now the Chengdu site PI for a global phase III clinical trial by Gilead. Admitted to the Chinese National Bar in 2009, she has participated in NGO and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention programs in the fields of HIV/AIDS. During her fellowship, Dr. Yan plans to develop and enhance her leadership skills in communication and project management, and to conduct research in young patients with HIV/AIDS to examine the disease impact on their health and economic well-being.