Second-year VUSM student concludes research in Zambia

Brian Heiniger, a second-year student at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, recently returned from a two-month stay in Lusaka, Zambia where he conducted research at the University of Zambia (UNZA) teaching hospital.

As part of the Global Health area of the Emphasis Program, Heiniger collected data for his project "Improving Sepsis Diagnosis and Treatment in Zambia: Simplified Severe Sepsis Protocol." Heiniger also worked on the Budget Impact Analysis and turnaround time components of research led by Vanderbilt Global Health Fellow Ben Andrews, M.D.

Brian Heiniger, VMS II student, with friends outside the soccer stadium in Ndola, Zambia, during Zambia’s 2014 World Cup Qualifier victory over Ghana on June 9, 2012

Heiniger worked closely with Andrews in studying the efficacy of a bundled protocol compared with standard emergency room procedures on the treatment of severe sepsis at the university's teaching hospital. The bundled protocol focused mainly on early antibiotics and IV fluids.

During his two-month stay in Zambia, Heiniger attended several conferences and symposia on topics such as rheumatology and pulmonology at the hospital.

"The wealth of opportunities to do research abroad was one of the things that really drew me to Vanderbilt Medical School," Heiniger said. "It is so valuable to be able to see how health care is delivered in a limited-resource setting."

Now back in Nashville, Heiniger is working to publish writings on his experience in Zambia, in addition to finishing a poster and abstract on his study. Heiniger also plans to eventually publish the manuscripts for the Simple Severe Sepsis Protocol and Budget Impact Analysis.

Heiniger said he hopes to continue work with his Zambian colleagues on future visits to the teaching hospital.