Global Health Program shapes students in the classroom and in the field

Global Health Program Princeton students at the Mpala Research Center, Laikipia County, Kenya

Students in Princeton's Global Health Program pursue a wide range of opportunities, such as participating in a summer internship in the United States or abroad, taking health-related courses, finding support for health-related thesis research, and getting involved with on-campus activities related to global health. Above, Princeton students catch a ride at the Mpala Research Center in Laikipia County, Kenya. Global health certificate student Alex Wheatley (second from right) was part of an internship program at the center sponsored by the Princeton Environmental Institute.

Princeton's Global Health Program (GHP) serves as a hub for students interested in tackling some of the most pressing health-related issues of our time.  

Students can earn a certificate in global health and health policy and also pursue a wide range of opportunities, such as participating in a summer internship in the United States or abroad, taking health-related courses, finding support for health-related thesis research, and getting involved with on-campus activities related to global health. Students often decide to pursue a career in global health.

"Princeton students are part of a new global health generation — a generation that witnesses firsthand the severe health inequalities in the world and wants to do something about it," said João Biehl and Andrea Graham, co-directors of GHP, who introduce the program in the publication "Global Health at Princeton," which highlights GHP's offerings. "The Global Health Program equips students with the cutting-edge tools, real-life experiences and critical perspective to make meaningful change in a time plagued by both emerging and enduring health-related challenges."

Biehl is the Susan Dod Brown Professor of Anthropology, and Graham is an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. Their cross-disciplinary collaboration speaks to the broad reach of GHP, which is highlighted in this video overview of the program.

The certificate program, which has grown from 19 entering students in 2008 to 72 in 2015, attracts students from across the University, including those majoring in anthropology, chemistry, economics, molecular biology, and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. GHP is housed in the Center for Health and Wellbeing and is supported by the Wilson School and the Office of the Provost.

"GHP isn't just a program, it's a community where you meet students from so many different disciplines and backgrounds and where everyone respects each other's opinions and welcomes them," said Mizzi Gomes, a senior majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology and pursuing a GHP certificate. "You will always find something that inspires you."

Students completing a certificate in global health and health policy take two core courses and pursue a range of elective courses. During the summer between their junior and senior years, students also carry out internships and field research in the United States and around the world.

"Health is so much more than what is in the clinic and so much more than what is tested in the lab," said Helena Hengelbrok, a senior majoring in anthropology and completing a certificate in the program. "The Global Health Program allows students to realize this firsthand, by supporting their independent fieldwork and health-related internships around the world."

Here is a visual tour of GHP, its projects and its students.

On campus


Global Health Program Amy Moran-Thomas provides research mentorship to Princeton students

In their junior year, GHP students take a two-semester sequence that provides them with an interdisciplinary foundation in global health. The program's electives expose students to the most recent research in global health in areas such as emerging infectious disease, drug development, health disparities and comparative health systems and reform. Above from left, medical anthropologist and 2012-13 postdoctoral fellow Amy Moran-Thomas provides research mentorship to Princeton-Brazil Global Scholars Sloan Rudberg, Farrah Bui and Akshata Shirahati, all 2014 graduates.

Global Health Program quote “‘The classes I took for the GHP certificate were some of my favorite courses at Princeton  and have served me very well in my subsequent professional, academic and extracurricular pursuits.’ -Aditi Vasan, Class of 2010,  pediatric resident at the  Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia”


Global Health Program Adel Mahmoud, Joseph Amon, Raphael Frankfurter, Alexis Okeowo

GHP brings global thought leaders, innovative researchers and policymakers to campus to share their expertise and enter into dialogue with students, faculty and the broader Princeton community on timely health topics. Above from left, panelists Adel Mahmoud, Joseph Amon, Raphael Frankfurter and Alexis Okeowo discuss the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in the December 2014 seminar "Ebola Challenges the World."

Global Health Program quote “‘GHP does a great job of bringing in people who have done amazing things — the global health field is so dynamic, and it’s changing everyday. There are new people coming into play and people who have done amazing work all over the world, so for them to come in and speak to us is an honor, and it's humbling.’ -Alex Wheatley, Class of 2016 , Ecology and evolutionary biology”


In the field

One of GHP's defining and most popular features is its focus on experiential learning. In the summer between their junior and senior years, students carry out internships and field research in the United States and abroad. Every student pursuing the certificate writes a health-related senior thesis in their home department. GHP awards $300,000 each year to an average of 75 undergraduates for research projects and service internships in 20 countries, including the United States. Nearly 75 percent of GHP students engage in field research.

Global Health Program Helena Hengelbrok in Peru

Anthropology major Helena Hengelbrok, Class of 2016, conducted senior thesis research on basic sanitation and water quality in rural Peru. Using ethnographic methods and quantitative analysis, she chronicled perceptions of water in the Urubamba area as well as actions taken by the municipality and local organizations to improve water quality and health outcomes.

Global Health Program Catherine Duazo in Kenya

Ecology and evolutionary biology major Catherine Duazo, who graduated in 2014, conducted senior thesis research on breastfeeding and the immune system in Kenya. She surveyed mothers and collected biological samples to investigate whether breastfeeding affected infants' susceptibility to respiratory illness.  

Global Health Program Kulani Jalata at the Wellbody clinic in Sierra Leone

Anthropology major Kulani Jalata (left), who graduated in 2012, did a summer internship at the Wellbody clinic in Sierra Leone, where she conducted research on community health workers doing HIV/AIDS outreach.

Global Health Program quote “‘The independent research component of the GHP certificate is great because you get to take what you learned in class and apply it outside. I also learn from my classmates’ experiences, since they apply what we have learned in the same course in a really different way — by working in a different country or looking at an issue from another perspective.’ -Shayla Reid, Class of 2015,  Spanish and Portuguese  languages and cultures”


Global Health Program map illustrating the countries students engage in internships and research

After Princeton

GHP graduates are thoughtful and prepared leaders in the fields of medicine, economics, engineering, politics, applied science, academia and industry. In a survey conducted in 2015, more than 90 percent of graduating seniors reported that their summer research or internship experiences influenced their plans for future work and higher education.

Global Health Program Princeton students in summer internship at Wellbody Alliance, Sierra Leone

For a group of former Princeton students, their summer internships at Wellbody Alliance in rural Sierra Leone have grown into more lasting roles in developing the organization's programs, reach and international presence. In 2013, Raphael Frankfurter and Shirley Gao, both of whom graduated in 2013, won fellowships to launch Wellbody's first U.S. office in Boston and work full time as the organization's executive and managing directors, respectively. Tim McGinnis, who graduated in 2013, another former Princeton intern, joined the team in 2013 as the U.S. operations manager. In 2014-15, Storm Portner, who graduated in 2014, joined Wellbody's U.S. operation's efforts through the Ebola crisis and has continued with Wellbody as the district manager for community-based programs, which has since expanded to address HIV, TB and malnutrition.

Global Health Program Christine Blauvelt  in Nakuru, Kenya

Anthropology major Christine Blauvelt, who graduated in 2012, studied AIDS programs and HIV-positive individuals' survival strategies in Nakuru, Kenya. She found that high unemployment exacerbated health and social problems. After graduating from Princeton, Blauvelt returned to Kenya to found DUMA, an innovative job placement service leveraging mobile technology and social networks. DUMA has secured permanent jobs for over 2,500 people and continues to grow with over 35,000 active users. Blauvelt is now in medical school at the University of Pennsylvania while continuing to run DUMA. 





Global Health Program quote “‘The GHP program played a pivotal role in helping me launch this social enterprise.  Seeing the interconnections between people’s health and their larger social, political and economic context propelled me to build a solution that would address the dire unemployment situation in Kenya.’ -Christine Blauvelt, Class of 2012, co-founder, DUMA;  medical student,  University of Pennsylvania”


Photos courtesy of, from top: Alex Wheatley, Class of 2016; João Biehl; Center for Health and Wellbeing; Center for Health and Wellbeing; Catherine Duazo, Class of 2014, and Leangelo Hall, Class of 2014; Kulani Jalata, Class of 2012; Global Health Program; Christine Blauvelt, Class of 2012. Map graphic by Kyle McKernan, Office of Communications.