Women’s Health Research at Yale’s Undergraduate Fellowship places our students with Yale faculty members. These faculty members are hand-picked for their expert knowledge on the influence of sex and gender in health research. They also translate their findings into medical practice.
This "hands-on" mentoring enriches students’ studies. They learn to investigate new and timely health research and clinical care questions. And they learn the most contemporary approaches to the science of women’s health.
Mentoring tomorrow’s leaders
Each academic year, we draw from a pool of motivated and accomplished undergraduate students. They all share an interest in understanding more about women’s health and about sex and gender differences. These difference include the development, presentation, treatment, and prevention of various health conditions.
WHRY’s goal is to provide an immersive experience, a “scientific home.” The fellowship is a supportive link to students’ coursework and efforts in other research and academic settings.
Ben Fait '17
As part of his mentored experience, Benj Fait helped produce a series of public health literacy videos and published a compelling article in The Hill, a widely read political newspaper and website covering U.S. politics. His article discussed the importance of biomedical research funding. He provided the perspective of a soon-to-be recent college graduate, dedicated to research yet concerned about national support for careers in science.
A double major in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry (MBB) and Comparative Literature with a focus on Latin American film, Ben developed his interests in health policy and scientific communications to benefit the community.
After two years as a WHRY fellow, Fait, went on to pursue graduate studies in neuroscience as a doctoral student at The Rockefeller University.
“My work with Women’s Health Research at Yale helped me solidify what I believe the science establishment should be doing,” Fait said. “And that’s being vocal, making recommendations, and having an impact on the public.”
In her two years with WHRY, Haleigh Larson helped produce and test the efficacy of a series of public health literacy videos designed to address the unique vulnerability of girls and young women to the negative effects of sexually transmitted infections, alcohol abuse, and stress. Her work ranged from researching topics, assisting with script writing, performing voiceover and on camera, and organizing, administering, and analyzing data from in-person survey sessions.
After graduation, Larson began a two-year position with The Brotman-Baty Institute in Seattle researching cancer-causing gene mutations. She is now a student at Yale Medical School, pursuing a career as a clinical geneticist, in which the latest genetic research and techniques guide a personalized approach to disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
“If more scientists appreciate the importance of studying the influence of sex and gender in health, they can help create the momentum for change,” Larson said. “In the future, when I’m doing my own research, I want to conduct studies that are thoughtfully designed to consider sex and gender specificity and communicate results in a way that is directly relevant to women and men.”
Dhikshitha Balaji graduated with a degree in pre-med and English Language and Literature. As a WHRY fellow, she worked with WHRY’s communications team to launch a new blog on the advancement of women’s health research for the center's website. In addition, Balaji helped create public health literacy videos and test their ability to inform, influence attitudes, and change behavior.
After graduation, Balaji worked with Dr. Shannon Whirledge at Yale School of Medicine, writing a review paper about the effect of endocrine disrupting chemicals on female fertility. She then moved to Washington, D.C., to join Dr. Rachel K. Scott's clinical research team at MedStar Health Research Institute, studying behavioral health determinants of treatment adherence in women living with HIV. Currently, she is a medical student at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
“WHRY made me appreciate the importance of hands-on mentorship,” Balaji said. “It makes me want to pass that on and promote these ideas. When I am in a position of influence, I know I will be talking about the significance of sex, gender, and women’s health.”