EPIC announces recipients of its inaugural Inspire Summer Studentships
A smiling woman with a grey sweater and a smiling man wearing a toque and blue coat

From left to right: Mary Addo, Spencer Brooks, Siham Mohamud and Fatma Samatar

May 12, 2023

By Betty Zou

The Emerging and Pandemic Infections Consortium (EPIC) has announced the four recipients of the 2023 Inspire Summer Studentships.

These studentships aim to foster inclusive excellence by providing third-year Black and Indigenous undergraduate students with opportunities to engage in infectious disease research with and receive mentorship from EPIC’s faculty members. Each award provides $7,500 to support the student for a 16-week work term.

“We know that diverse and inclusive research ecosystems lead to more innovative approaches, ideas and solutions, and are more likely to produce impactful outcomes that can benefit more people, particularly those already experiencing inequities,” said Scott Gray-Owen, academic director of EPIC and a professor of molecular genetics in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine.

“That’s why we are committed to helping create a more diverse talent pool for the next generation of infectious disease research leaders.”

Meet the four inaugural recipients of the 2023 Inspire Summer Studentships:

Mary Addo is a third-year student in the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto who is completing a major in genome biology and a minor in physiology and immunology. She will be working with Rob Kozak at Sunnybrook Research Institute on a project investigating the mucosal immune response in the early stages of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Spencer Brooks is a third-year student in the Faculty of Arts and Science at U of T who is completing a double major in immunology and biochemistry with a minor in psychology. He will be undertaking a project with Lena Serghides at the University Health Network focused on uncovering the long-term health consequences in children who are exposed to HIV and HIV antiretroviral therapies before birth.

Siham Mohamud is a fourth-year student at U of T Scarborough doing a major in health studies (population health stream) and double minor in psychology and biology. She will be assisting Darrell Tan at Unity Health Toronto with a pilot test of a cross-sectional questionnaire about long-acting HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) technologies.

Fatma Samatar is a third-year student at McMaster University studying life sciences. She will be working with Shaza Fadel at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at U of T to conduct a literature review on pneumococcal vaccine uptake in high-risk adults with the goal of identifying gaps in the field and uncovering insights into effective interventions.