Matthew Turissini, MD, worked with AMPATH colleagues for four years in Kenya to build noncommunicable disease and mental health services at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) and in community clinics. As a member of the 2022 ASPIRE cohort, he hopes his future research can contribute to continued growth and success of these services.
Dr. Turissini, assistant professor of clinical medicine in the division of general internal medicine and geriatrics, is one of six faculty members selected for the fourth cohort of ASPIRE (Advanced Scholars Program for Internists in Research and Education) by the Department of Medicine.
ASPIRE fosters a vibrant intellectual community designed to develop or improve existing research skills and facilitate meaningful scholarly projects in the scholar’s area of interest. The program aims to support faculty in developing a regional or national reputation, enhance local recognition, and eventual promotion.
“My motivation as a doctor is grounded in my resolve to create opportunities for people and improve the world around me,” said Dr. Turissini. His scholarly project will explore creating a feasibility and acceptability assessment for scaling community substance abuse groups to new counties in Kenya as well as county department of health oversight of the groups.
AMPATH currently has 57 community substance abuse groups with more than 900 active members. Although multiple county governments have expressed interest in starting more groups, there are challenges to transitioning non-clinic based care to county supervision. “A feasibility and acceptability implementation science assessment could offer significant benefit in scaling access to care for alcohol and drug abuse care in Kenya,” said Dr. Turissini.
In addition to the community groups, Dr. Turissini and his colleague Dr. Edith Kwobah, head of mental health at MTRH, started a clinical mentorship program to help primary care sites integrate high quality mental health care in 42 clinical sites, and led the development of the MTRH Nawiri Recovery and Skills Centre, Kenya’s first transitional home for patients with severe mental illness. “Long term, I plan to work with Dr. Kwobah and others in Kenya to develop implementation science projects to create evidence for the growth of mental health care throughout Kenya,” added Dr. Turissini.
Each ASPIRE scholar is paired with a nationally and internationally recognized mentor. Angie Rollins, PhD, will be Dr. Turissini’s mentor on mental health and global health projects. Scholars also participate in a comprehensive curriculum, receive research assistance, and are funded to travel to a national meeting. The 2022 ASPIRE program will run from July 1, 2022, through December 31, 2023.
David M. Aronoff, MD, FIDSA, FAAM, chair of the Department of Medicine announced this year’s ASPIRE Scholars cohort which also includes Ryan Boente, MD; Mary K. Eckerle, MD; Kyle Frick, MD; Swapnil Khare, MD; and Chandra Thippanna, MD. This year the Department of Medicine has enhanced the opportunity for participation for all department faculty by providing infrastructure support for the program.
“I look forward to further developing research skills especially in implementation research,” said Dr. Turissini. After working primarily in Kenya for my first four years with IU, I also look forward to the opportunity to be an active participant within the division of general internal medicine and geriatrics and learning and working with my peers in the ASPIRE program. I would like to thank the division leadership and the leadership of the ASPIRE program for this opportunity.”