The city has one of the most robust hepatitis C elimination efforts to learn from. A founding member of the Centre for Elimination of Hepatitis C in Norway and an infectious diseases provider, Finbraten was elected as a 2021-2022 Commonwealth Fund Harkness/Norwegian Institute of Public Health Fellow to conduct original research and gain exposure to policy development in the United States.
“I wanted to understand more about policy work and learn how I can help more people by working at the health systems level,” Finbraten said. At the Centre for Elimination of Hepatitis C, Finbraten and her team document the hepatitis C elimination processes in Norway and develop treatment models to further the World Health Organization’s global initiative to eradicate viral hepatitis C. One treatment model in development is Opportuni-C, in which her team studies the effect of initiating rapid hepatitis C treatment for people who inject drugs and are hospitalized.
Through the Commonwealth Fund, Finbraten connected with Bruce Schackman, CHERISH director and Saul P. Steinberg Distinguished Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine; Shashi Kapadia, CHERISH Research Affiliate and infectious diseases physician at Weill Cornell Medicine; and Benjamin Eckhardt, infectious diseases clinician researcher and assistant professor at New York University. During Finbraten’s one-year placement at the Center for Health Economics of Treatment Interventions for Substance Use Disorder, HCV, and HIV (CHERISH) in New York City, Schackman, Kapadia, and Eckhardt serve as collaborators and advisors on her research and provide health economics, epidemiological, and policy perspectives.
“Choosing these advisors was not difficult after understanding what CHERISH does and offers. I have the best team supporting me to make my project and learning experience successful and meaningful,” she said. Finbraten’s primary research compares low-threshold hepatitis C treatment models in New York City and Norway. Additional studies Finbraten is working on address barriers to care for people who inject drugs and are co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C.
Finbraten is also eager to learn how to conduct qualitative research and design treatment models with patients in mind. “I am a fan of developing research questions that ask about the outcomes that matter to the patient. When developing treatment models, we need to know how the patient feels. A model cannot be useful unless it is accepted by the people who are receiving the care,” she said. As her team in Norway is expanding to incorporate more qualitative research, Finbraten looks forward to bringing home new research methods and treatment strategies that integrate the voices of people who inject drugs.