Global Health Scholars


Advancing Global Health:
Award helps VCU medical students lay foundations for global health careers

By: V. Renee Russell
VCU Global Education Office
Phone: (804) 828-3636 

RICHMOND, Va. (June 5, 2014)—For many students, summer is a time to slow down. But for three Virginia Commonwealth University medical students, this summer is a time to forge ahead and begin laying foundations for their careers in global health.

Aided by the Global Health Awards from the VCU Global Education Office, rising second year medical students Aditi Sharma, Kunal Kapoor and Nehal Naik will pursue international academic experiences in the area of global health. This newly established award is designed to enhance the recruitment of students into global health research and practice careers by providing them the means to attain international cross-cultural field experiences.

“Global health is a growing priority both around the world and here at VCU,” said R. McKenna Brown, Ph.D., Global Education Office executive director. “By providing these international experiences for our students, we’re helping prepare the experts who will be equipped to solve the problems of the 21st century. We’re so pleased to partner with academic units like the VCU School of Medicine to accomplish this.”

Aditi Sharma, who is a native of Irvine, Ca., graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in bioengineering in 2009. Her award will support her research on the costs of delaying care and extending lengths of stay for trauma patients at University Teaching Hospital in Kigali, Rwanda.

“This award is especially meaningful as it will give me the opportunity to pursue my research interests and find my niche within the global health community,” she said.  

Refining her focus within the field of global health stems from Sharma’s previous experiences working at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, DC, the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and the Public Health Foundation of India in New Delhi, India. “These opportunities inspired my interest in global health and further motivated me to take the skills I’ve gained as a medical student and apply them to improving health outcomes on a global scale,” she said.

“Specifically, this scholarship will allow me to better understand how care is delivered in resource-constrained settings and how research can be conducted systematically to contribute to improving patient care, despite those constraints.”

Kunal Kapoor is a native of Suffolk, Va. who received his bachelor’s degree from VCU in religious studies in 2012. His award will support his participation in the Global Health Delivery Summer Intensive at the Harvard School of Public Health. Through this program, Kapoor will “gain a better understanding of how successful approaches in global health delivery can empower communities and reduce health disparities,” he said.

On a personal level, Kapoor hopes to broaden his perspective on how, through his career, he might begin to play a role in tackling some of the complex issues surrounding global health delivery. 

Nehal Naik, a native of Santa Barbara, Ca., received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 2010 in molecular and cell biology. Naik’s award willsupport his research that seeks to critically assess the systemic barriers to EMS and hospital communication for emergency care in Ecuador.

Naik’s research, which will take place in Cuenca, Ecuador from June 10-July 15, will allow him to work collaboratively with medical students in the region. “I look forward to collaborating with our partners in the Pan-American Trauma Society to create a long-term sustainable project that will improve trauma care within Ecuador,” he said. “Ultimately, I eagerly anticipate cultivating friendships and building lasting partnerships.”

The Global Health Award is given to 3-6 VCU students annually. For more information, visit

Aditi Sharma
Aditi Sharma

Kunal KapoorKunal Kapoor

 Nehal NaikNehal Naik 

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