Scholarships and Prizes

Scholarships and Prizes Beyond Global Health Experience Funding

suskindlewintercaplanDuring the first ten years of operations for The Center for Global Health (CGH) Office (2004-2014), more than 30% of medical students participated in global health experiences. The vast majority received some funding from CGH. Details about funding sources can be found on the Funding Page of this website. In addition to funding for global health experiences, students may compete for the Neal Nathanson Fellowship in Global Public Health while pursuing a Master of Public Health degree at the University of Pennsylvania. In their final year, medical students may submit an essay to win the Robert Suskind and Leslie Lewinter-Suskind Global Health Prize. FLAS fellowships over special opportunities for students committed to serious foreign language study in addition to their principal studies. Additional information about scholarship and fellowships like Fulbright can be found on the website of the Center for Undergraduate Research & Fellowship (not restricted to undergrads), CURF.


Neal Nathanson Fellowship in Global Public Health

The Neal Nathanson Fellowship in Global Public Health is a competitive award designed to encourage and support exceptional MPH students in the pursuit of academic training in global public health. The fellowship was established in 2012 by Marjorie A. Bowman, MD, MPA, founding Director of Penn's Center for Public Health Initiatives. The award will be applied to travel expenses related to a global health experience as a first order of priority. However in some instances the award recipient may opt to request partial tuition support for a global health course. Tuition support will only apply to fall or spring terms. The summer term is excluded.

Dr. Neal Nathanson is known for his contributions to collaborative research efforts, both domestically and internationally, in the field of viral pathogenesis and the epidemiology of viral diseases. Dr. Nathanson has worked tirelessly on the eradication of polio and the control of HIV/AIDS in many parts of the world and serves on a number of national and international panels that guide research and policy in these areas. His career represents a true commitment to global health.

ELIGIBILITY: All MPH matriculated students (full time or part time) who meet the following criteria are eligible to apply. Priority will be given to students who demonstrate financial need.

  • Matriculated in the MPH degree program with a declared concentration in the Global Health track (preferred).
  • Successful completion of at least one full semester of MPH studies with a GPA of 3.5 or above.

Note: Full time employees of the University and international students are ineligible due to university regulations.

APPLICATION: The application includes a concise essay (2 page limit) addressing the student's professional goals and objectives, resume or CV including education, relevant experiences, publications, awards, honors, etc, and an estimate of the travel expenses needed to complete the global public health experience. For up-to-date information and deadlines, please contact Moriah Hall, MPH Program Coodinator.

Fellowships Awarded

Christian Stillson: Botswana 2014

The Neal Nathanson Fellowship in Global Public Health will help to support Christian Stillson in the spring/summer of 2014, when he will be in Botswana conducting qualitative research examining knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of caregivers for children with tuberculosis. Christian previously served as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and has fluency in isiZulu.

Sean Hammer: Botswana 2013

The Neal Nathanson Fellowship in Global Public Health supported Sean Hammer’s MPH Capstone research. He worked directly with professors at the University of Botswana in Gaborone to evaluate the effectiveness of a year-long nutritional intervention on the health and immune status of 201 HIV+ children. His primary responsibilities included conducting all of the data analysis and preparing manuscripts for submission to peer-reviewed journals.

Robert Suskind and Leslie Lewinter-Suskind Global Health Prize

First awarded to a graduating Perelman School of Medicine student in 2014, the Robert Suskind and Leslie Lewinter-Suskind Prize in Global Health is awarded to the graduating student who submits the best short essay on the importance of global health opportunities during the medical school years.

  • Essay Submission
    Essays must be typed, double-spaced, and no longer than 500 words. Please submit to, via email attachment, by the last Monday in February for review by the prize committee. The essay may reflect one or more opportunities that have touched you in some way. The emphasis should not be on what or how much you have “done” per se but on how the existence of the opportunity has made a difference; e.g. in your life or career goals, in personal perspectives or emotions, or in others with whom you have interacted.

Robert Suskind and Leslie Lewinter met in 1962, during Bob’s third year of medical school when, as a Smith-Klein-French fellow, he was to spend the summer in Cameroon. Since the beginning of their marriage, which they spent in the Peace Corps in Senegal, they have lived, worked and travelled together on every continent except Antarctica (so far!), including taking their four children out of school for a year to travel the globe, observing medical care internationally.

Robert Suskind, MD graduated from the University of Pennsylvania College/Wharton (’59) and Medical School (’63). After pediatric residency at Johns Hopkins, he became Field Director of MALAN, an NIH-funded project in Chiang Mai, Thailand, initiating his research on malnutrition’s effect on the immune system and the optimal treatment of the malnourished child. His MIT-Boston Children's PhD program in clinical nutrition for pediatricians was pivotal in raising awareness of nutrition’s importance in clinical medicine. Dr. Suskind’s international experiences include Director of the ICDDRB in Bangladesh and advisor to the Patan Academy of Health Sciences in Kathmandu, Nepal. He has been a Chairman of Pediatrics for twenty years and Dean of three medical schools.

Leslie Lewinter-Suskind received her BS from Penn State, an MSS from Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research and an MFA from UNO. After Senegal, she directed an inner-city program under the OEO (“War on Poverty”), followed by a study determining the need for infant care centers in the barriadas of Lima, Peru for Johns Hopkins. As Director of Applied Nutrition at MALAN, she set up follow-up, etiology and intervention studies in childhood malnutrition in the villages surrounding Chiang Mai. At LSU, she directed the International Program for the Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics.

Prize-Winning Essays

One Language by Julie Caplow, Suskind Global Health Prize Winner, 2014

On a typical morning at Bamelete Lutheran Hospital (BLH), a rural district hospital in eastern Botswana, the physician team huddled around a table sipping tea while Dr. Mwanza, who had been on duty overnight, gave his report. He had admitted a male patient with heart failure exacerbation, an HIV positive teenager with crypotococcal meningitis, and a woman with diabetic ketoacidosis. He had also sewn a child’s laceration, performed an emergency C-section, and operated on a boy with ruptured appendicitis. The medical director then gave an update on medication shortages and the nonfunctional x-ray machine, and then, with a collective sigh, the team dispersed to begin the day’s work.

Dr. Mwanza, a medical officer from the Democratic Republic of the Congo with limited English language skills, had arrived in Botswana just a couple months prior. His training had included medical school and one year as an intern in his home country. I asked him one day how he did it all – how could he manage being a pediatrician, obstetrician, surgeon and hospitalist all at once? His answer surprised me. He told me he loved hearing about everything Penn medical students talked about when they visited – different types of cancer, various etiologies of renal failure and liver disease, subtle distinctions between diagnostic tests. For him, this information was very interesting, but it was entirely superfluous. The only information he needed was what could be acted upon with the limited armamentarium of resources at the district hospital. And this amount of knowledge, skill and responsibility, he said, was manageable.

Over the course of my experience in BLH, I learned that in a setting of such strained resources, an altogether different clinical approach was required, one that prioritized simple but effective therapies and left intellectual curiosity on the backburner. A positive patient outcome was a success regardless of whether the diagnosis was ever confirmee. This was medicine, chiseled down to its truest, most honest for. This perspective helped me recognize what was essential in our work even back in Philadelphia: not necessarily the breadth of our differentials or precision of our diagnoses, but rather our gumption and resourcefulness in working towards the best patient outcomes.

When I looked around the physician room every morning at BLH, even when hearing about continued medication shortages and missing equipment, I was nonetheless struck with a sense of optimism. Here we were, a truly international group of individuals – Motswana, Congolese, Nigerian, Chinese, German and American – and we were all able to speak the same language of medicine. Despite our vastly different social, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, a common interest in healing had brought us into the same room, creating fertile ground for teamwork and exchange. When the day came for me to travel home, an African proverb written on one of the walls of the airport resonated with me: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." Together, through the respectful sharing of complementary knowledge, skills, and ideas, I am optimistic that we can work to improve health in even the most challenging of environments.

Last updated:  June 29, 2014

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