A Medical Student’s View on Interdisciplinary Collaboration


My name is Temini Ajayi and I am currently a second-year medical student at Duke. I chose Duke Med because it was important to me to be in a supportive community with people that are not only committed to the advancement of science and humanity, but also to their own wellbeing and the wellbeing of their peers. Additionally, the Duke Medical School curriculum is well known for its emphasis on research and outreach. We get a full year to pursue other interests/research projects that help us develop as holistic physicians and people.

I am interested in global health as a future career direction. While discussing this with faculty here at Duke, they were able to guide my interests. I got introduced to the Bass Connections team (Shining Evolutionary Light on Global Health Challenges) and to Charlie Nunn (our team leader), and was excited to learn about the scope, breadth and depth of the project. I found it inspiring to work with individuals from various schools at Duke, learning from them and offering my insight when needed. Interestingly, we had a community of student and graduate researchers that focused on different aspects of the overall project, but we were all involved in the cerebral and formative aspects of all projects. It was a nice way to be exposed to different aspects and still maintain ownership of a part of the project. Charlie was also a phenomenal mentor that pushed us to think outside the box and do more.

The overall project resulted in at least four posters and two theses (one undergraduate and one graduate). My personal project resulted in two posters that were presented at the Duke Global Health Showcase. This project has been an integral part of my decision to pursue global health and was one of the global health projects that earned me the Global Health Emerging Leader Award in the Triangle Area.

I really enjoyed my time on this team. Perhaps the most thrilling part of this project for me was getting to interact with graduate students and faculty from multiple disciplines and learning from them in the process.

The students were very driven and brought about intellectual curiosity that was as challenging as it was refreshing. In my opinion, this was perhaps the strongest part of this experience – the collaboration between students of different disciplines and at different stages of their careers.

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