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Marla Gold Scholarship Recipients

The Marla J. Gold, MD Endowed Scholarship Fund offers financial assistance in the form of tuition awards for the MPH portion of the program to students pursuing the joint MD/MPH degree at Drexel University. The Gold Scholarship is awarded to a student in the MD/MPH program with experience and special interests in leadership as it relates to public health and medicine.

All applicants should indicate their interest in the Gold Scholarship at the time of application to the MPH program.

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Alexandra Portugués, 2021 Scholarship Recipient

MPH Major: Community Health & Prevention
Faculty Mentor: Amy Carroll-Scott, PhD

Alexandra's Focus: I chose to pursue the combined MD/MPH degree after completing the Public Health Scholars track at Drexel College of Medicine and discovering my passion for public health during my experience with pediatric firearm injury prevention research.

I believe the formal MPH training will complement my medical education and add depth to my future practice as a physician in the field of OB-GYN, while impacting my patients health at the community level. I hope to use the MPH knowledge to inform my future research endeavors and guide interventions to address public health issues within women’s health.

My ILE project will focus on on interpersonal violence (IPV) and violent injury prevention and how IPV is related to pregnancy outcomes for mom and baby. I hope to engage in a community based intervention aimed at reducing rates of IPV and improving maternal/fetal morbidity and mortality.

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Debi Smith, 2021 Scholarship Recipient

MPH Major: Global Health with a minor in Maternal Child Health
Faculty Mentor: Renee Turchi, MD, MPH

Debi's Focus: Prior to starting medical school, I knew I wanted to pursue a dual degree in public health to allow me to have a better understanding of my patient population and their needs. I have a strong interest in preventative research particularly regarding women's health and access to care globally.

The primary reason why I chose Drexel for medical school was because of their MD/MPH dual degree program and strong curriculum in women's health. I believe my MD/MPH will enrich my skills as a practicing clinician and take on a more holistic approach to treating my patients.

For my Integrative Learning Experience, I am working as a fellow the National Institute of Health as part of their team for the Accelerated Control of Cervical Cancer Moonshot aimed at eradicating cervical cancer with primary and secondary prevention measures globally and ensuring the most adequate treatment options for populations with and without HIV.

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Shraddha Damaraju, 2020 Scholarship Recipient

MPH Major: A combination of Community Health & Prevention and Health Management & Policy
Faculty Mentor: Theodore Corbin, MD, MPP

Shraddha's Focus: I am pursuing the MD/MPH dual degree path because I want to use both medicine and public health to change people’s lives. Beyond treating my patients in the office, I want to have the knowledge and skillset to think more broadly and come up with solutions at the population level to improve health outcomes while reducing health disparities. I am hoping to use my MD/MPH degrees to treat patients at the individual level, improve social determinants of health at the community level, and contribute to health equity and social justice for all, especially communities made vulnerable by systemic oppression and marginalization.

My Integrated Learning Experience (ILE) project is with Healing Hurt People and the Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice, specifically within their peer training academy designed to educate and empower young Black men affected by interpersonal violence to become peer specialists and community healthcare workers. My project involves creating training modules centered around substance use, harm reduction, primary care and preventative care, chronic stress and systemic oppression as it relates to medicine, and more. I believe health education is one of the most powerful tools that both public health and medical practitioners can use to empower people to take charge of their health and wellbeing, and for this reason I’m very excited to be working on a health education-themed project while learning more about trauma-informed practice and broader social justice issues.

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Saranya Khurana, 2020 Scholarship Recipient

MPH Major: Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Faculty Mentor: Stephen Lankenau, PhD

Saranya’s Focus: I believe my MPH will make me a better, more well-rounded physician and researcher. I hope to go into psychiatry, and wish to use my MPH to treat patients' health in the context of social determinants, as well as influence mental health policy to increase access to care.

My ILE project is in drug use in young adults, and I am excited for this opportunity to explore an interesting field in psychiatry through a public health lens.

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Jake Ferguson, 2019 Scholarship Recipient

MPH Major: Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Faculty Mentor: Jana Mossey, PhD, MPH, MSN

Jake's Focus: I wanted to purse dual MD/MPH degrees since my first year at Drexel University College of Medicine because I wanted to have perspective of healthcare on a systematic level as well as individual.

I think the skills I will learn from focusing on Epidemiology and Biostatistics are invaluable and will put me at the forefront of bringing new clinical research into everyday practice and also participating in my own clinical research.

My Master’s ILE project will focus on the relationships between depression and pain.