Start Center - Strategic Analysis, Research & Training Center
START Center



This June, four research assistants graduated from the Strategic Analysis, Research & Training (START) Center’s training program, two of whom also completed their graduate degrees. Andrew Secor, Implementation Science PhD candidate in Global Health, completed his research assistantship and is now working to complete his dissertation. Helena Archer completed her research assistantship and graduated with a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Epidemiology. Lola Arakaki, Epidemiology PhD candidate, completed her research assistantship and is now working to complete her dissertation. Matt Driver completed his research assistantship and graduated with a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Epidemiology.

Below, learn more about our impressive graduates and the work they completed while engaged with START.



Andrew Secor is a Global Health Implementation Science PhD student in the Department of Global Health. Since receiving his Master of Public Health in Global Health from the University of Washington, he has managed health system strengthening and community health worker evaluations in West and South Africa. Most recently, he worked as the Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor with JSI on an Ebola survivor program in Liberia. His research interests include health information systems, integrating community health strategies into formal health systems, and addressing mental health issues among vulnerable populations.

Andrew worked on six projects during his two-year engagement at START, acting as the Project Manager for one of them. Below are highlights from two of the projects Andrew worked on:


  • Birth Asphyxia Burden Assessment and Landscaping: The team performed a targeted literature search to assess current interventions for neonatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), specifically those that show promise in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
  • (Mosquitoes) Dengue burden and vector control strategy landscaping for Wolbachia modified mosquito program: This project conducted a review of existing dengue burden data for Indonesia and extracted population and dengue burden data in high-population cities in Indonesia to develop city-level maps and a market analysis dashboard for the World Mosquito Program’s Wolbachia modified mosquito technology.

Reflecting on his time with START, Andrew said, “my time at START has prepared me to take on more advanced roles in the global health field. Experiential learning in client relations, project management, and short-term consulting helped me build a highly valuable skillset which will greatly benefit my future work. START is a fantastic opportunity for students to develop robust academic and professional skills.”

Andrew finished her research assistantship with START in June of 2020, and is continuing research for his dissertation as an Implementation Science Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Global Health, while also beginning full-time work as a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Officer at PATH with the Center of Digital and Data Excellence.



Helena Archer received her bachelor’s degree in health policy and management at the University of North Carolina. While in school, she completed a hospital administration internship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and worked as a research assistant in UNC’s Department of Social Medicine. She later joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Health Associate Program and spent two years assigned to the Coconino County Public Health Services District in Flagstaff, Arizona, working in maternal and child health and injury epidemiology. Most recently, as part of Global Health Corps, she has worked on technical systems strengthening as a Health Informatics Officer at Akros, a small non-profit, in Lusaka, Zambia.

Helena worked on eleven projects during her two-year engagement at START, acting as the Project Manager for five of them. Below are highlights from three of the projects Helena worked on:

  • Family Planning Training in Crisis Settings: The team reviewed published and grey literature, and consulted field experts in family planning, emergency response, and mobile health to evaluate the current landscape of training for family planning in crisis settings and to identify opportunities for growth and improvement.
  • COVID-19 Risk of Contacts Literature Review: The team assembled research on COVID-19 secondary attack rates among households and community settings, and conducted a rapid, basic analysis of the data.
  • Lymphatic Filariasis in India: The team conducted systematic searches of lymphatic filariasis-related research in India, including all research done in India or by Indian authors to map the landscape of current research. After the development of “buckets,” articles were reviewed and categorized in a database, which included supplemental author information from SCOPUS and data visualizations. A grey literature review was also conducted to identify key organizations and actors. The project supports Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) identification of research gaps and key people/institutions to engage in elimination work.

Reflecting on her time at START, Helena said, “START has been an exceptional opportunity to stay connected to active global health projects and to continue my training in team and project management, an excellent complement to my MPH training. Working a variety of complex projects has strengthened my analytic capabilities, offered chances to practice my epidemiology skills, and allowed me to learn from the creativity of peers, faculty, and partners, all which have helped me become a more flexible, capable researcher.”

Helena graduated with an MPH in Epidemiology in June, and will begin an Epidemiology PhD at UC Berkeley this fall.



Lola Arakaki is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Epidemiology. After receiving her MPH in epidemiology from Columbia University, she worked at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in the Bureau of HIV/AIDS as an evaluation specialist. Her portfolio included monitoring and evaluating programs serving low-income HIV-infected individuals in New York City. Additionally, she worked on meningococcal disease surveillance studies as a Health Research Training Program intern in the Bureau of Communicable Disease.

Lola worked on fifteen projects during her four-year engagement at START, acting as Project Manager for five of them. Below are highlights from two of the projects Lola worked on:



  • Vaccine Delivery Research Digest: In 2014 The START Center launched the Vaccine Delivery Research newsletter to support the Vaccine Access and Delivery team at BMGF. This monthly literature review summarizes new publications in peer-reviewed literature that inform the field of vaccine access and delivery in low-resource settings. The START team, comprised of one research assistant and faculty mentor, conducts a comprehensive monthly search to identify new research manuscripts published in academic journals and catalogued via online databases, and reviews the literature to identify articles of relevance to the field of vaccine access and delivery. Approximately 250-300 publications are scanned each month, from which 10 of the most high-impact articles are chosen for focus.  START researchers summarize key content from the studies which may be directly relevant to stakeholders working in the vaccine delivery and access fields. The digest highlights key take-away points and lessons learned from the studies, and includes brief methodological critiques of study design or analysis features which may be important for stakeholders to consider when using the results to inform real-world decision making and application.
  • COVID-19 in Pregnancy and Infancy Weekly Digest: As the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the globe, the extent of its impact on vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, newborns and children under five, is unknown. As the pandemic evolves rapidly, relevant literature is becoming available via peer-reviewed and grey literature channels. The START team was tasked to compile weekly digests summarizing newly available pregnancy- and young child-related literature on COVID-19.

Lola had this to say about her time with START, “my time with START was wonderful! I was impressed with how much START invests in training and supporting their research assistants. I learned so much about project management, client interactions, and work in the global health space. The work was incredibly fulfilling, and I loved the community and relationships fostered at START.”

Lola completed her research assistantship with START, and will continue with her PhD program working on influenza vaccine effectiveness research with Steve Hawes and Michael L. Jackson (Kaiser Permanente).



Matt Driver holds a BS in Statistics from UCLA, where he provided analytical support on a variety of research projects focusing on health disparities in minority populations. After graduating, he worked as a health economics and outcomes researcher at Analysis Group, where he leveraged complex administrative claims data to assess cost-effectiveness, treatment patterns, and safety outcomes for emergent drug therapies. Through the firm’s pro bono practice, he also worked on various projects focusing on health outcomes for HIV+ mothers in Port au Prince.

Matt worked on seven projects during his two-year engagement at START, acting as Project Manager for three of them. Below are highlights from two of the projects Matt worked on:



  • HPV Immunogenicity Data Review: The team performed a systematic literature review and meta-analysis to evaluate the immunogenicity of alternative (i.e. non-standard) dosing schedules for the HPV vaccine.
  • Global Financing Facility (GFF): This team conducted investment case review and internal interviews with (BMGF) teams to find trends and gaps of the Global Financing Facility (GFF) investments and different engagements of different BMGF teams with GFF.

Reflecting on his time with START, Matt said, “working at the START Center was an integral part of my MPH experience, as it allowed me to apply the foundational knowledge I had gained in the classroom to a variety of real-world, high-impact global health projects. Additionally, I’ve cherished the opportunity to learn from and alongside such an amazing and talented team. Thanks to my experience at START, I feel incredibly prepared for the next step in my public health career.”

Matt graduated with an MPH in Epidemiology in June, and accepted a job as a Clinical Research Data Analyst at Cedars Sinai in LA. His lab focuses on gender disparities in cardiovascular disease and aging.


These four START graduates will continue to engage with START’s extensive alumni network, established in 2011. START often invites alumni to share their experiences after graduating from the training program at all-team meetings and, additionally, taps into the alumni network for content expertise on projects. The alumni network is comprised of highly skilled START graduate professionals employed in global health, business, and consulting across disciplines.