Meet our researchers – Dr. Brooke M. Ramay

Dr. Brooke M. Ramay is an assistant research professor at the Paul G. Allen School for Global Health who is leading research on antimicrobial resistance in Guatemala. She has a dual appointment at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala as an associate professor and researcher at the Center for Health Studies.

What are your current research interests and what attracted you to that area?

Currently, my main research interest focuses on antimicrobial resistance (AR) in hospitals and communities in Guatemala. In the Western Highlands we are studying AR of colonizing bacteria, or bacteria that doesn´t necessarily cause infection, but that serve as a model for how AR disseminates through these environments.

In this project, in addition to exploring how antibiotic use impacts AR, we are also studying environmental, animal and human risk factors that may contribute to antimicrobial resistant bacteria colonizing both healthy and sick people. This information is then communicated to key stake holders in the ministry of health hospitals, clinics and people from the community to make evidence based decisions on measures that can be taken to prevent the spread of AR.

I enjoy this area of research because as a pharmacist, I have the opportunity to work in an area of my expertise (antibiotic use) but also have the chance to think about AR in the context of greater public health challenges.

What do you ultimately hope to accomplish with your research?

Our research aims to provide evidence to develop interventions that improve the ability to prevent and treat infectious disease, specifically, pathologies caused by antimicrobial resistant bacteria.

How can your research help people and animals?

Bacteria colonize several places in the human body like the skin, mouth and gastrointestinal tract. Bacteria found here are generally harmless, but if some of these bacteria get into places that should be sterile, like the blood stream or the bladder, their presence can lead to dangerous infections requiring antibiotic treatment. As antibiotics are used more and more frequently, resistant strains are favored and it can be difficult, or impossible to treat these types of infections. Antibiotic use in animals can contribute to this problem by contributing to the amplification of resistant strains, which in turn increases the likelihood that resistant strain will be transmitted to people and other animals. To address antimicrobial resistance, we must consider antibiotic use in both human and animals, in addition to how people interact with animals.

What do you enjoy about working with students?

I like working with students because they bring a different perspective and special energy to the team. Their motivation is contagious and creates opportunity for innovation and growth both in the classroom and on our research projects. 

Why did you choose to come to WSU?

The Paul G. Allen school of Global Health has established programs in several countries around the world. I am part of the ongoing program in Guatemala, where I am based. This being said, I chose to work at WSU because I can work as part of a multidisciplinary, multinational team. The environment is diverse both culturally and scientifically and is one that supports creativity and comradery.