From Durham to Moshi, New Skills Strengthen Research on Hypertension and Emergency Care

Sophie Galson and colleagues

As a master’s student at the Duke Global Health Institute, Dr. Sophie Galson has been collaborating on a research project on hypertension in the emergency department of Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center in Moshi, Tanzania. To build her language skills and strengthen her contribution to this ongoing work, she enrolled in a residential immersive Swahili course at The Training Centre for Development Cooperation in Eastern and Southern Africa (TCDC).

Galson was among 18 Duke University students who received Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants (GSTEG) in 2017-18 from the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies for training beyond their core disciplines. Her faculty mentor is Catherine Staton. Now back at Duke, she shared an update:

Sophie Galson and colleaguesAs a current Global Health Emergency Medicine Fellow, I recently returned to the U.S. after completing seven months of fieldwork in Moshi, Tanzania, where I was studying non-communicable diseases in the Emergency Department under the mentorship of Dr. Catherine Staton and Dr. John Stanifer.

In addition to working clinically in the Duke Emergency Department, I published “Epidemiology of hypertension in Northern Tanzania: A community-based mixed-methods study” in BMJ OPEN earlier this year. I also just defended my master’s thesis at the Duke Global Health Institute on the burden of hypertension in the emergency department and linkage to care in Moshi, Tanzania.

Sophie GalsonIn April, I presented my thesis work at the European Cardiology Congress (Europrevent) conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and was awarded best oral poster presentation. In the next year I plan to write three to four additional manuscripts based on my thesis project. I also currently mentor one Tanzanian master’s student (Catherine Agustine) on research methods. A basic knowledge of Swahili was crucial to my success in integrating into the research collaboration in Tanzania and analyzing my qualitative results.

I have greatly enjoyed learning the KiSwahili language and Tanzanian culture throughout my time in Tanzania, and the weekly tutoring sessions have helped greatly to accelerate this process. The MS TCDC course was a perfect capstone experience and I was able to start at an intermediate level due to the tutoring. This grant has also had effects beyond myself. Our team has been motivated by my experience to slowly start to incorporate more Swahili into our weekly meetings.

I am thrilled to be staying at Duke and will be starting this July as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery, Division of Emergency Medicine!


This internal funding mechanism from the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies encourages doctoral and master’s students to step away from their core research and training to acquire skills, knowledge, or co-curricular experiences that will give them new perspectives on their research agendas. Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grants are intended to deepen preparation for academic positions and other career trajectories.

  • Read other GSTEG updates from this year’s grantees.
  • See who received grants for 2018-19.