Luke Myhre (DC ’14) is an African Studies Major with a focus in Health. He is currently applying to medical school, hoping to eventually work in sub Saharan Africa. He grew up in remote western Uganda before two years of boarding school in Kenya. With medical missionaries for parents, he aspires to live and aid in an area others will not. He speaks Kiswahili and spent the last 3 summers in Kenya, including researching the toxicities of Maasai traditional medicine, working with soccer camps in Mombasa, and collecting geographic information on Spina Bifida patients to research a spatial correlation with malaria. On campus he is co-Captain of Yale Men’s Club Soccer, involved in leadership of Yale Undergraduate Gospel Choir and works 3 campus jobs. He looks to continue pursuing experience and language in east Africa, in hopes of helping and healing what will forever be home.
For the summer of 2013, I worked on obtaining patient records of spina bifida patients who received surgical care at Kijabe Hospital. A congenital defect resulting in incomplete neural tube closure, spina bifida is thought to be caused by inadequate folate levels in the first trimester of pregnancy. Due to Plasmodium Falciparum's folate metabolism, mothers in malarious regions could be more susceptible to having children with spina bifida. Since there was no previous studies on this issue, and Kijabe Hospital had a large database of cases, the research sought to analyze a geographic relationship between the two conditions. Kenya's unique elevation profile results in both extremely malarious regions and malaria free highlands. As accurate maps for malaria exist, it was my job to use hospital data to obtain a spread of spina bifida cases. With the help of renowned neurosurgeon Leland Albright, a database of approximately 1800 cases and their home towns was compiled. Using a set of anorectal malformations that Kijabe Hospital also sees in high volume to control for the Hospital catchement area, and Kenyan population density data, Global Information Systems software will allow the significance of possible correlations to be studied