Georgian Students Complete Coursework at UAlbany as Part of International Training Program

Portraits of Natalia, Mariana, and Esma
From left to right: Natalia Adamashvili, Mariana Buziashvili, and Esma Imerlishvili

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 27, 2022) - A collaboration between UAlbany, SUNY Downstate, and Tbilisi State University in Georgia—funded by the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center— brings scientists from the country of Georgia to New York’s Capital Region to receive rigorous training on interventions and strategies to enhance health programs related to HIV/AIDS. This year’s cohort, including Esma Imerlishvili, Natalia Adamashvili, and Mariana Buziashvili, are working on advanced public health coursework at UAlbany and completing a hands-on learning placement at the New York State Department of Health’s AIDS Institute, known for its visionary response to HIV.

Meet Esma Imerlishvili:

Esma Imerlishvili is a medical doctor who realized the importance of preventative public health policies and programs while in medical school. She saw an announcement about a public health doctoral program that included a learning component at UAlbany and chose to apply.

“I had been working on sexual and reproductive health and rights lately, so I knew I could not let this chance go, especially since my friend had studied at UAlbany and loved it,” Imerlishvili says.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Imerlishvili says that public health wasn’t viewed as an important profession in her home country, but now, even children understand that public health impacts not just the health of populations, but the country’s economy and overall wellness, too.

“Consequences can be even more severe for countries such as Georgia,” explains Imerlishvili, “Especially in the absence of powerful public health response.”

After her summer internship at the AIDS Institute in Albany, New York, Imerlishvili is excited to return home so that she can use the knowledge she’s gained to help improve public health initiatives.

“In particular, I would love to work on health issues for marginalized and vulnerable populations to help improve health equity,” she says.

Meet Natalia Adamashvili:

Natalia Adamashvili was interested in medicine from a young age. After becoming a medical doctor, she enrolled in a Master of Public Health (MPH) program, where her interest in public health and research began to grow.

After graduating with her MPH, Adamashvili started working on tuberculosis response. In Georgia, rates of tuberculosis are particularly high, and co-infection with HIV remains a significant concern for public health professionals.

In 2021, Adamashvili returned to Tbilisi State University to pursue a doctoral degree in public health and epidemiology, and came to UAlbany for non-degree study as a part of this international training program.

“I want to become better at what I do,” says Adamashvili, when asked about her career goals. “I want to have the feeling that I’m constantly moving forward and learning. I want to feel comfortable and happy in what I do and see that what I do makes change and helps others. After all, that’s what public health is for.”

Meet Mariana Buziashvili:

Mariana Buziashvili comes from a family of doctors, so she always knew she wanted to devote her career to improving people’s health. After graduating from Tbilisi State Medical University in 2012, she pursued a master’s degree in epidemiology and biostatistics and was selected as a fellow for a Emory University-Georgia Tuberculosis Research Training program.

After her fellowship, she decided to pursue a doctoral degree in public health, focusing on tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS for her research—and came to UAlbany as a part of this international training program.

“This collaboration with leading experts and instructors at UAlbany and the AIDS Institute will significantly contribute to my development as a distinguished researcher,” Buziashvili says. “I aim to contribute to bridging the healthcare system implementation gaps and further improve the quality of healthcare services in Georgia by generating and implementing innovative science.”