This week’s behind the breakthrough profiles Anna Bershteyn, a senior research manager at IV’s Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM), a division of Global Good. Anna was born in Kiev, Ukraine and immigrated to the United States in 1989. She attended MIT, where she completed her bachelor’s and PhD in materials science and engineering before joining IDM in 2010.

Here are some of her reflections:

On what led her to IV:

“I joined the IDM after getting to know Philip Eckhoff, the Institute’s principle investigator. He and I held the same graduate fellowship from the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation. At the time, IDM was small and focused on malaria modeling. Philip was looking to grow some tendrils in other fields—namely polio, HIV, and TB—and I was really interested in expanding from vaccine development into broader global health topics. My start date was a week after my thesis defense at MIT. I just couldn’t wait – I was really excited to get started.”

On her role at IV:

“My role with IDM is focused on research. The kind of research we do uses agent-based detail HIV models to answer questions about policy – things like the impact of increasing retention on HIV treatment, or trying to get more people who have been lost to care back into care. Things that incredibly enough, we still don’t know, such as: what are the most important ways that we need to improve the health system? I spend most of my time as a researcher exploring different hypotheses and analyzing data from different angles.”

On being a mentor:

“In addition to my research, I’ve also become a manager/supervisor/mentor on the HIV and TB teams, helping to guide different research questions. I look back on the great mentors I have had throughout my scientific career for ideas about how to support and motivate team members.”

On what inspires her work:

Three things. First, it’s the excitement of knowing that we’re really breaking new ground. Second, it’s our technical capacity. We are at this unique interface with software development, policy, and basic research. I think we have the opportunity to move things forward in a new direction. Third, and most of all, it’s my colleagues at IDM. We have an incredible team with an amazing culture. I’ve learned so much from my co-workers. There is a sense of feeling honored to get to do this sort of work, and it makes this place collaborative rather than competitive, even while pushing hard and feeling great pride in our work.”

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