The Downs International Health Student Travel Fellowship honors Wilbur G. Downs (1913 - 1991), MD, MPH, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University School of Medicine, renowned physician/scientist in the fields of tropical medicine and infectious diseases, mentor to many students and colleagues. The Fellowship supports graduate and professional Yale students who undertake health-related research primarily in low- and middle-income countries. The Downs Fellowship Committee awards Downs Fellowships based on merit.
Downs Fellows carry out research in the context of their host countries’ culture, health problems and resources. The Fellowship provides funds for transportation to and from overseas project sites, cost of visas, site-specific drugs, immunizations, evacuation insurance and a modest stipend. Although students may initiate projects, Yale faculty members provide intellectual support, practical assistance and links with host-country sponsors who serve as mentors during the Fellows time abroad. The choice of research topic and methodological detail are joint responsibilities of applicants and advisors. Any member of the Yale faculty may sponsor applicants. Downs Fellows present their research findings and experiences at the Annual Downs Fall Symposium and Poster Session. Most Fellows further develop their studies into a thesis or dissertation.
Since 1966, the Downs Fellowship has provided opportunities for almost 400 students to live, learn, work and do research in overseas settings. Many projects supported by the Downs Fellowship have led to outstanding research projects, as well as oral presentations and posters at national and international health conferences. Through their work, fellows have contributed to an increased understanding of epidemiological, genetic, biological, clinical and social patterns in health and medicine. Surveys have shown that past fellows have been deeply influenced by their experiences abroad, which have helped them shape new perspectives on their responsibilities and capabilities as health professionals.