Mohamed Raafat Discusses Research with CDC, NASA Experts

Third year clinical student Mohamed Raafat presented research on the prevalence of three major tropical viruses in St. Maarten

Third year clinical student Mohamed Raafat presented research at the CDC’s International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta last week. His poster, “Severe Disease Presentations Are Correlated with Previous Exposure of Multiple Members of the Flaviviridae Family in the Caribbean Island of Sint Maarten,” summarized findings from a project that he led while on campus.

Under the supervision of Dr. Kathleen Shupe, Chair of AUC’s Department of Immunology and Microbiology, Mohamed conducted a study to assess the prevalence of three major tropical viruses—including the Zika virus—in the Cupecoy area. More than 280 individuals were screened, assessed for symptom severity, and given their serology results.

The project was a collaborative effort with approximately 40 students helping to carry out the study. Nearly half of participating students earned a research credit and others received volunteer hours. While Mohamed served as project manager, he recognized Rebecca Sgori, Timothy Kirtek, and Jonathan Barney in particular for their leadership.

“This scholarly activity highlights the abilities of AUC students to unite and accomplish something great while solving a public health problem local to the Sint Maarten community,” he said. “The mentorship and guidance of Dr. Kathleen Shupe was also instrumental in the successful completion and presentation of this project.”

While presenting at the conference, Mohamed was able to discuss his research with infectious disease specialists from around the world, including those from CDC, NASA, and various other government and academic institutions. He also used the opportunity to learn about emerging infectious diseases and issues affecting the spread and control of such diseases.


Research Study Team Members:

  • Zika Research Team: Marcus Sepanfski, Harleen Sekhon, Alejandro Cohen Lopez, Delia Anne, Mohammed Sammullah, Ben Johnson, Kareem El-Khodary, Rebecca Sgroi, Rohan Patel, Mahmoudi Meisam, Michelle Gyulnazaryan
  • Chikungunya Research Team: Timothy Kirtek, Al Beyerlein, Christine Aboseif, Asmita Gautam
  • Dengue Fever Research Team: Jonathan Barney, Alyx Soloway
  • Phlebotomy team:  Shane Nylin, Chris Hayden, Lauren Menzies, Natalie Bacheldor, Adrianna Kordek, Jamie Baden, Jeffery Thiebaud, Svetlana Suvorova, John Hughes
  • Lab team: Constantine Kanakis, Stephanie Kurhanewicz, Dulani Samarappuli, Jake Delalla, Christine Aboseif
  • EMS team: Jonathan Baptiste, Any Yancone, Jose Gonzalez
  • Informed consent: Timothy Kirtek, Patrick Pagador, Kaycee Kanakis, Mary White, Kigen Kip, Mariam (Michelle) Gyulnarzyan, Mohamed Ahmed, Jonathan Barney