During my time in Lima, I spent most of my days working at DIGESA (La Dirección General de Salud Ambiental the Peruvian Ministry of Health) in the Laboratory of Environmental Control (Laboratorio de Control Ambiental). The purpose of the trip was to try to determine the source of H. pylori contamination in the municipal drinking water supply and to work with our collaborators to teach them the techniques for detecting and quantifying H. pylori that I developed in the lab over the past year. I traveled to Lima with my colleague Kathryn Thompson, who assisted with the laboratory work during my time here. We toured Hospital Nacional Cayetano Heredia and the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, meeting with collaborators who had worked to recruit patients for this project initially. My colleagues and I toured the SEDAPAL drinking water plant (SEDAPAL is the main water utility in Lima). We visited the Rimac River, the source of drinking water for the city and collected samples. In addition, I was asked to give a lecture to the DIGESA staff, and Dr. Xi and I were asked to give a lecture at the online RILAA (Red Interamericana de Laboratorios de Análisis de Alimentos) conference. We collected water and biofilm samples from patients' homes and from DIGESA, which I then processed using the novel culturing technique. Finally, I performed the culturing technique on water samples from Huaraz (a town about 8 hours away from Lima) as well as on another sample of water taken from DIGESA.
What did he gain from this experience?
The most valuable parts of my experience were learning about challenges of international work: the lack of access to necessary laboratory equipment, language barriers, lack of access to the places that we needed to go to in order to collect samples. Also, building collaborations with our friends at DIGESA and the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, as well as giving lectures about our research to an international audience at the RILAA and College of Peruvian Biologists conferences and having the chance to teach my methods to our collaborators at DIGESA. And of course, collecting water and food samples to test my new culturing technique.