In October 2023, Andrea Conroy, PhD, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine's Ryan White Center for Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Global Health and the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research, was honored with the prestigious Bailey K. Ashford Medal by the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH). This accolade celebrates her distinguished contributions to the field of tropical medicine.
Conroy’s research focuses on the impact of infections on global women's and children's health. She played a pioneering role in recognizing acute kidney injury as a significant complication of severe malaria and has identified various factors contributing to this condition. Since 2011, she has conducted her research in Uganda, where she serves as the director of the IU-affiliated CHILD lab in Kampala. In collaboration with several global and local researchers and organizations, she is devoted to enhancing outcomes for individuals with severe malaria and other critical conditions.
“It is an incredible honor to receive this award,” Conroy said. “When looking at past recipients of the Bailey K. Ashford Medal, and other medals from the society, what stands out the most is that the scientists recognized are all part of an incredible team.”
Conroy expressed that the ASTMH award was made possible thanks to the incredible work accomplished by a wide group including her research partners at Global Health Uganda and Makerere University; the collaborators and clinical staff at her studies’ field sites; her lab team; and the global health group at IU School of Medicine.
Conroy believes she’s been fortunate to have several mentors who have made substantial contributions to the field of severe malaria. When she was a graduate student, the ASTMH event was the first professional conference she attended, and she remembers watching her University of Toronto graduate supervisor, Kevin Kain, MD, become a Bailey K. Ashford Medalist in 2008.
“It is surreal that 15 years later, I received the same award,” she said.
Working alongside a dedicated team as a trainee served as inspiration, fueling her motivation to pursue innovative research. This journey ultimately brought her to the IU School of Medicine, where she now works closely with 2011 Bailey K. Ashford Medalist Chandy John, MD, MS.
Conroy credits John with being a supportive mentor who has empowered her to build a body of knowledge that’s enabled her to secure significant research funding, including a Showalter Award and grants from the National Institutes of Health. Their teamwork has inspired Conroy to question the status quo, and she’s hopeful their efforts will challenge industry guidelines around severe malaria in children.
“Andrea is one of the best examples I know of a servant leader,” said John, the Ryan White Professor of Pediatrics who nominated Conroy for the award. “She’s someone who leads by serving those she works with. We are so lucky to have her as a colleague.”
Conroy appreciates her leaders at IU School of Medicine, including John and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, D. Wade Clapp, MD, for their steadfast support in enabling her to live and work in Uganda. This support allows her to prioritize relationship-building, mentorship and the expansion of her research capabilities. She extends her heartfelt appreciation to her esteemed collaborators in Uganda, including Anthony Batte, MBChB, MMed; Robert Opoka, MD; Ruth Namazzi MBChB, MMed; and the dedicated CHILD lab team. Additionally, she acknowledges the generosity of the donors from the Riley Children's Foundation and the Indiana University Dance Marathon, whose contributions greatly benefit her lab.
“At the end of the day, my goal is to make a lasting impact on the health of children,” she said. “I’m thankful for those who make it possible by supporting my research and the people I work with every day. It takes a village.”
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.