Ashton Drake Hall

Medical Microbiology Student, RSTMH Student Ambassador

I am a graduate student in the MSc Medical Microbiology program at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

My interest in tropical medicine piqued after witnessing the unnecessary suffering and death born out of tropical infectious diseases in the Amazon Rainforest. This initial experience in Ecuador guided me to India, where I saw the stigmatizing effect of leishmaniasis, and other neglected tropical diseases, on the Dalit population. India then led me to LSHTM, the world's epicenter of tropical medicine.

LSHTM was founded by Sir Patrick Manson, who then became RSTMH's first president. This institution continues to be a world leader in impactful research and public health. For Americans such as myself, LSHTM also provides an opportunity to gain early specialization before entering the industry, a research degree, or medical school.

Contrary to popular belief, the United States suffers from a neglected tropical disease: hookworm. Southern states and the Appalachian region bear the disease burden; however, since epidemiological studies of parasites ceased in the 1980s, the incidence and prevalence of hookworm infections remain unknown.

I became an RSTMH Student Ambassador to shed light on the "forgotten peoples" and the disease that ail them - diseases that escape the attention of the American public. Therefore, as an incipient ambassador, I hope to increase public awareness of neglected tropical diseases, global health, and RSTMH's mission.

For the last five years, I have been involved in several research projects: drug discovery for leishmaniasis, risk factor quantification for Clostridium difficile, bacterial endospore destruction, and environmental sampling for bacterial pathogens. My research, in conjunction with my volunteer work in Appalachia and abroad, has been my biggest contribution to the field.

In my free time, I like to play a round of golf with old high school teammates and friends.