Sasha Fahme, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Department of Medicine
What I would like to offer as a collaborator…
My research interests are related to the health disparities of vulnerable populations in settings of conflict and displacement. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the number of forcibly displaced individuals worldwide has exceeded 65 million. This growing population carries a unique and disproportionate risk of poor health outcomes due to the effects of displacement on structural determinants of health, gender-based violence, and access to healthcare. Yet though these negative health consequences are widely recognized, there is a deficiency of high-quality, rigorous evidence to support interventions to mollify these inequities, particularly during ongoing humanitarian crises. I am especially interested in the health inequities related to HIV prevention and treatment among adolescents and LGBTQ+ populations in these settings. My research interests are well-aligned with the Center of Health Equity’s commitment to tackling health disparities by fostering a collaborative environment that supports rigorous research.
What I am looking for from a collaborator…
My long-term career goal is to be a physician-scientist conducting research on health disparities related to conflict and displacement. This is notably relevant in my native country of Lebanon, where there are an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees displaced. I have conducted several years of service and research among Syrian refugee populations. In 2014 I was awarded funding through Columbia University to provide primary care to Syrian refugees displaced in a rural region of north Lebanon. In 2018, I collaborated with a global relief organization, The Syrian American Medical Society, to provide emergency medical care to Syrian refugees displaced within refugee camps along the Lebanese-Syrian border. While there, I diagnosed and managed a significant number of sexually transmitted infections, many of which were the consequence of sexual- and gender-based violence. However, I was struck by the paucity of epidemiological data on sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, among this vulnerable, high-risk population. The absence of peer-reviewed evidence on this critical public health issue has motivated my current research endeavors to investigate the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescent Syrian refugee girls. I am completing a post-doctoral research fellowship in community-based participatory research of adolescent Syrian refugees at the American University of Beirut. Many of the health disparities I have encountered in this context are relevant not only in other settings of displacement but also among underserved communities in high-income countries. As a junior faculty member, I hope that my relationship with the Center for Health Equity can be mutually enriching, as I look forward to opportunities for mentorship and guidance from senior faculty members with expertise in health disparities research, as well as opportunities to educate students on the health inequities of Syrian refugees and draw parallels to domestic asylum seekers and other marginalized communities.