2017-2018 Fellows

For the 2017-2018 year, VCU welcomed 12 fellows from Brazil, Bulgaria, India, Iran, Israel, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.


Shatha Alanbar

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Shatha Alanbar earned her bachelor’s degree from the Applied Medical College of King Saud University in 2008 and currently works as a speech-language pathologist specializing in adult neurogenic speech and language disorders.

After completing her education, she worked for five years at King Fahad Medical City in its rehabilitation hospital, a center certified by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. To gain experience with acute care cases, Alanbar went to work at King Abdelaziz Medical City (National Guard Hospital), which is the main trauma hospital in Saudi Arabia. In addition to her clinical work, Alanbar is involved in numerous community and professional activities. These include advocating for people with aphasia, supporting prevention efforts for trauma-induced speech-language disorders, developing support groups for individuals with speech-language problems, developing Arabic diagnostic and assessment tools, speaking at conferences, educating nurses in speech-language and swallowing pathologies and promoting safe driving campaigns.

Alanbar is joining the Humphrey Fellowship Program to improve her clinical and research skills in the speech-language pathology field for use in Saudi Arabia.


Martin Agwogie, Ph.D.

Lagos, Nigeria

Martin Agwogie, Ph.D., earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry education from University of Benin in Nigeria. He received his master’s and doctorate degrees in educational psychology from Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria, 2003 and 2008, respectively. Dr. Agwogie also holds a post-graduate diploma in hospital management from University of Lagos in Nigeria and a master’s in business administration (human resource management) from the National Open University of Nigeria.

Since 1996, Dr. Agwogie has worked at the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and presently is a principal staff officer in the Directorate of Drug Demand Reduction. His role includes organizing drug abuse prevention programs, psychosocial treatment and rehabilitation of persons with substance use disorders. He coordinates the Multi-Media Drug Control Initiative of the Agency. He is a certified master trainer on Treatnet by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and a Universal Treatment Curriculum (UTC) national trainer. Dr. Agwogie is a member of the Nigerian Technical Working Group on drug use survey and a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals (ISSUP).

During his Humphrey fellowship, Dr. Agwogie seeks to acquire more skills on effective substance use prevention, psychosocial treatment and leadership, as well as improve his knowledge on research and evidence-based drug control policies.


André Kiepper

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

André Kiepper earned a bachelor’s degree in social communication from the Federal University of Espírito Santo. He also holds a master's degree in public health from the National School of Public Health, where his work focused on the impacts of the U.S. medical marijuana laws. He also completed two lato sensu post-graduate courses in public management and management in science and technology in health organizations.

From 2008 to 2012 Kiepper worked at the Rio de Janeiro Transit Department where he gained experience as part of a sobriety checkpoint program. He is currently working at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation under the Ministry of Health as a health manager and institutional development analyst. There, he is a member of the Institutional Program Working Group on Crack, Alcohol and Other Drugs. Throughout 2014, Kiepper led four national electronic petitions to the federal senate related to drug problems. This resulted in eight public hearings and a legislative proposal submitted to the Commission on Human Rights and Participative Legislation to reform Brazilian drug policy.

During his fellowship, Kiepper will focus on the impacts of drug reform policies and the cross-cultural perspectives that influence both Brazilian and American healthcare systems.  


Zau Ring, M.B.B.S.

Kachin State, Myanmar

Zau Ring, M.B.B.S., obtained his bachelor’s degrees in medicine and in surgery in 2003 from the Institute of Medicine-Mandalay in Myanmar. In addition, he has received certification for malaria control and malaria field management from both the People’s Republic of China and from Myanmar’s Ministry of Health.

Since 2003, he has been a government medical officer. He has been assigned to a state general hospital, a drug dependency treatment hospital and two remote township health departments where he has led both clinical care and public health activities. In 2011, he was assigned to the Kachin Statewide Vector Borne Diseases Control Team and led both prevention and control activities, mainly for malaria and dengue hemorrhagic fever. He also served as a World Health Organization malaria field project coordinator in 2013-2014.

During his Humphrey fellowship, Ring hopes to analyze public health policy approaches to delivering universal health coverage and health equity. He wants to develop and institute the most appropriate public health policies and systems, given his country's limited resources. He also wants to know how to reduce narcotic and psychotropic substance abuse and to manage emergency response and resettlement for conflict-affected people.


Svetla Milcheva Borisova, M.D.

Varna, Bulgaria

Svetla Milcheva Borisova, M.D., is a 2002 medical school graduate of Varna University. Following three years working as a medical practitioner, she studied psychiatry at Varna University Hospital, where she now serves as a psychiatrist in the addictions unit. She provides services for patients with substance use disorders, with a focus on detox therapy and treatment of psychiatric comorbidities. She also provides counseling and leads sessions with patients and their families.

During her fellowship, Milcheva hopes to gain professional and academic experience through coursework and research in prevention and treatment of substance use disorders. Her interests include pharmacotherapy and cognitive therapies. She has a special interest in the neurobiological bases of different types of addiction and would like to gain experience in conducting neurocognitive assessments and using neuroimaging methods such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Milcheva seeks to improve the management of substance use disorders not only in the hospital where she works, but also throughout the city of Varna and the country of Bulgaria. As such, she would like to learn more about evidence-based substance abuse prevention and treatment programs and their implementation at the community level.


Alireza Bayat

Tehran, Iran

Alireza Bayat graduated from Iran University of Medical Sciences in 2008 where he earned a bachelor’s degree in public health.

Bayat began his career working in public health at the Chamran Hospital. He currently works for the Iranian National Center of Addiction Studies where the primary focus of his work is with the RASESH sexual health group. This work is done in collaboration with Tehran University of Medical Science. Bayat is responsible for substance abuse training, counseling and research, as well as coordinating the delivery of sexual health services for vulnerable groups, especially drug users. He has developed and implemented a community-based, skill-building approach to reduce sexual risk behaviors for men and women with substance use disorders. Bayat also has experience working with the LGBTQ population and as an educator in HIV/AIDS prevention.

During the fellowship, he hopes to learn new strategies in public health to increase the quality of life for people in Iran, especially related to sexual health.


Shibendu Bhattacharjee

Dehli, India

Shibendu Bhattacharjee graduated from Assam University with bachelor's and master's degrees in social work.

In 2011, he was appointed as the person-in-charge of the Society for Promotion of Youth and Masses (SPYM) Juvenile Drug De-Addiction Centre. For the past five years he has worked with at-risk children regarding substance abuse and the law. Presently, Bhattacharjee is the program manager for SPYM. With his team, he has developed standard operating procedures and a pedagogy, which includes an innovative curriculum. One of his most noteworthy achievements has been the development of an on-the-ground facilitator’s training program—the only one of its kind in India. In fact, the Honourable President of India presented Bhattacharjee two national awards for the SPYM program: “Best Innovation and Research in Substance Abuse” and “Best Child Care Institution in India.”

During his fellowship, Bhattacharjee hopes to strengthen his knowledge of addiction program best practices and skills in research and evaluation. Also, he hopes to design a country-wide program to train and mentor other human service and education professionals covering substance use prevention, treatment, client rehabilitation and client reintegration into society. 

al hosani

Ayesha Al Hosani

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Ayesha Al Hosani earned her bachelor’s degree in health sciences in 2012 from Zayed University and received a clinical diploma in psychology from United Arab Emirates University in 2014.

She started her career as an intern at the National Rehabilitation Centre and currently works there as a health educator. She is responsible for running community campaigns in health education, prevention and promotion. Specifically, she is the project manager of a drug prevention program at a local school. In 2017, Al Hosani joined the Abdulaziz bin Humaid Leadership Program where she completed numerous training programs. In addition, she completed a training program offered by the International Center for Credentialing and Education of Addiction Professionals (ICCE) in 2015. ICCE is a global initiative funded by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs in the U.S. State Department—a bureau whose mission is to build capacity to reduce international drug demand. Al Hosani’s training included conducting an assessment of adolescents and a qualitative study about factors influencing substance abuse in women in the UAE.

She is interested in learning about the challenges different countries face within the substance abuse field and in science-based prevention programs that can be adapted for implementation in her country.


Rabia Hanif

Karachi, Pakistan

Rabia Hanif received a master’s degree in psychology in 2011 and a master’s of philosophy in clinical psychology from the Institute of Clinical Psychology in 2013, both from the University of Karachi. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree with a specialty in drug addiction.

Hanif is a senior psychologist at the New Horizons Care Center, which provides free treatment and rehabilitation to patients suffering from substance use disorders. In this position, she manages the agency’s internship program; conducts patient intakes, screenings and assessments; provides counseling; and prepares patient treatment plans. Certified as a national trainer by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), she has conducted awareness camps, seminars and workshops designed to provide knowledge about addiction and reduce the stigma associated with drug abuse. For three years in a row, she was nominated as an associate director for the International Society of Substance Use Treatment and Prevention Professionals (Pakistan chapter).  In 2016, she served as a national consultant for a drug awareness campaign sponsored by the UNODC. Hanif also serves as a counselor and motivational speaker for SOS Children’s Village-Karachi.

Her goal during the fellowship is to learn new evidence-based treatment approaches she can incorporate into her practice.