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Following our Past Fellows into the Future

Following our Past Fellows into the Future

Women’s Health Research at Yale’s fellowship program has been mentoring Yale undergraduate students since 2015. These students are now applying the lessons they’ve learned on the health of women and sex and gender differences to their academic and career pursuits. Our former fellows are now adding to their list of accomplishments as they pursue new endeavors.

Ben Fait '17

Ben Fait is currently a doctoral student at The Rockefeller University studying neuroscience and working in a laboratory focused on ALS research. He published a perspective on the need to address the public’s distrust of scientists and disregard for scientific advice during the Covid-19 pandemic in the journal Science & Diplomacy.

During his time at Yale College, he majored in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry (MBB) and Comparative Literature with a focus on Latin American Film. After graduation he completed a research internship at The Pasteur Institute in Paris France, before receiving a Fulbright Fellowship to study at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain.

While at Yale, Fait utilized his interests in health policy and scientific communications to benefit the community by helping to produce a series of public health literacy videos.

In addition, he published a compelling article in The Hill, a widely read political newspaper and website devoted to U.S. politics. His article discussed the importance of biomedical research funding by offering the perspective of a soon-to-be college graduate concerned about national support for careers in science.

“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.”

Watch Ben’s project, the Sex and Science Video Series ▶

Haleigh Larson '18

Haleigh Larson is currently a Yale Medical School student and serves on WHRY’s Council of community advisors.

After graduating from Yale College with a degree in Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry (MBB), Larson began a two-year position with The Brotman-Baty Institute in Seattle researching cancer-causing gene mutations. During the Covid-19 Pandemic she co-founded Students Promoting Health Advocacy and Synchronized Engagement with Communities (S-PHASEC) which empowers students to assist with health campaigns and serve in emergency response through advocacy and community partnerships, all while supporting health equity.

As a WHRY fellow, Larson helped produce and test the efficacy of a public health literacy video series designed to address the vulnerability of girls and young women to sexually transmitted infections, alcohol abuse, and stress.

“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. “As I do 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

Click here to read Haleigh's commentary on CRISPR in CT Viewpoints

Dhikshitha Balaji '18

Dhikshitha (Dhiksha) Balaji attended medical school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland before beginning her residency in internal medicine in July 2023. She is committed to improving health policy and equity in primary care.

Dhiksha graduated from Yale College with a double major in Pre-Med and English Language and Literature and worked with Dr. Shannon Whirledge to write a review paper about the effect endocrine disrupting chemicals have on female fertility. Balaji then moved to Washington, D.C. to study behavioral health determinants of treatment adherence in women living with HIV at MedStar Health Research Institute.

As a WHRY fellow, she launched the “Why didn’t I Know This?” undergraduate student blog. Balaji also helped to create public health literacy videos and test their capacity to inform and influence attitudes and behaviors.

“WHRY made me appreciate the importance of hands-on mentorship,” Balaji said. “It makes me want to pass that on and promote these ideas. I am looking for ways to make women’s health part of my residency and future practice.”

Read blog posts by Dhiksha and other fellows on "Why Didn't I Know This"