Raising Awareness about Global Health Issues and Developing Therapeutics Is the Mission of Knight-Hennessy Scholarship Recipient

Ten years ago, Kritika Singh, a Northeastern University graduate and Young Global Leader, heard for the first time the harrowing statistic that every minute a child somewhere dies from malaria.

She was a sheltered high school student, she says, taking part in a summer internship at a Boston biotech company where she was assigned to a malaria research project.

Since then, raising awareness of malaria and getting young people to care about global health issues have been among the ambitious career goals set by Singh, a first-generation Indian American.

“I really hope to become a physician, a scientist and an advocate focused on working on these issues by not only developing therapeutics, but also working on the implementation and the global health policy side,” she says.

After being awarded a prestigious Knight-Hennessy Scholarship, she is one step closer to achieving her dreams.

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars is a multidisciplinary, multicultural graduate fellowship program established in 2016 to prepare recent grads for leadership roles in academia, industry, government, nonprofits and the community at large.

The scholars receive financial support to pursue graduate studies at Stanford University, where Singh will pursue a doctor of medicine degree. Her goal, she says, is to eventually develop therapeutics for regions with few health care resources.

“For example, for cancer, over 70% of all cancer-related deaths happen in low- and middle-income countries,” she says. “But most of the money that goes into developing cancer therapeutics are focused on developing these very expensive therapeutics that will be great for people in the U.S. and maybe in the U.K. But these technologies are not really going to get to where they’re needed the most, where most of the deaths are happening.”

The experience elevated her interest in global health.

“That’s why I decided to pursue bioengineering,” she says of her Northeastern studies. “I realized that a lot of these big health problems that we want to solve today can be done through engineering.”

During her time at Northeastern, Singh received the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in 2018 and Harry S. Truman Scholarship in 2019. In 2020, she was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and was accepted into the National Institutes of Health Oxford-Cambridge Scholars training program.

That allowed her to earn a joint doctoral degree in biomedical sciences and bioengineering from the University of Oxford in the U.K. and the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.

Since her high school days, Singh also volunteered and interned at various labs, including at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Systems Biology.

To empower other students at Northeastern to engage in global health, she started the Northeastern University Global Health Initiative, which encourages the understanding of global health issues, emphasizes the connection between global health and local health, and shows students how they can contribute.

“It started off with just building a base for people at Northeastern to do interdisciplinary global health research and connecting them with faculty members who were doing that work,” Singh says. “​​And once we started doing that, we actually decided to host a conference to bring together not only Northeastern students, grad students and faculty, but also international global public health leaders.”

The first conference took place in 2018. Now, the initiative lives on its own, Singh says.

“For me, it was very important to focus throughout grad school on a lot of those community-focus things, but also with a science focus and bring together people to have very important conversations,” Singh says.

Originally Published at News@Northeastern by Alena Kuzub Read More