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The Downs Fellowship

Harry and a translator sit with a couple in their yard
Harry Hyunteh Kim collects data from local residents regarding their WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene) behavior, and other relevant topics. He was accompanied by the two local villagers, who served as translators.

The Downs International Health Student Travel Fellowship honors Wilbur G. Downs (1913 - 1991), MD, MPH, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, renowned physician/scientist in the fields of tropical medicine and infectious diseases, mentor to many students and colleagues.

Since 1966, the Downs Fellowship has provided opportunities to over 500 students to live, learn, work and do research in low- and middle-income countries. Many projects have led to outstanding research projects, as well as oral presentations and posters at national and international health conferences demonstrating an understanding of epidemiological, genetic, biological, clinical and social patterns in health and medicine. Surveys show 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.

Research is carried out in the context of host countries’ culture, health problems and resources. 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why apply for the Downs Fellowship?

The Downs Fellowship provides unique opportunities for Yale graduate students:

  • Travel and conduct research abroad
  • Experience in writing RO1 grants and IRBs through the research application process
  • Yale faculty provide intellectual support, practical assistance and links with host-country sponsors
  • Proposal Writing Workshops provide instruction and guidance on formulating a research question and constructing a proposal, and training on research methodologies
  • Mentorship program with Downs Committee members means invaluable feedback from experts
  • Experience of a different culture and the challenge to professionally respond to unanticipated situations
  • Develop and practice presentation and proposal writing skills
  • Gain new perspectives on the responsibilities of a professional
  • Networking opportunities
  • Modest award to undertake research (Fellowship separately cover airfare and ground transportation to the host site, the travel health consultation and immunizations, visa fees, site-specific drugs, and evacuation insurance)
More Information

For detailed information on the Fellowship application process, please visit our CampusGroups page or contact Anjuli Bodyk.

All final applications must be submitted on the Student Grant & Fellowship Database at Yale. Only applications submitted through this database will be considered. Please familiarize yourself with the format of the online application before completing it as there are differences from the draft proposal format.

All official deadlines are posted on the Downs Fellowship calendar.

Which students are eligible to apply for the Fellowship?
All graduate students proposing to conduct biomedical research in resource-poor countries and/or with marginalized populations are eligible to apply. This includes both masters and Ph.D. students in the health professional schools (Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, and PA program), and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
What are some examples of past Fellow projects and locations?
Downs Fellows travel to low-to-middle-income communities in Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe and South America. A few examples are listed below.
  • Designing an intervention for breastfeeding in low-resource communities in Mexico using the socio-ecological framework
  • Assessment of the current status of diabetic self-monitoring and readiness for mobile e-healthcare control in a high-risk population of Samoa
  • Investigation of the Burden of Q-Fever And Melioidosis in Two Agricultural Provinces in Thailand
  • An investigation on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), colorism and stress coping behaviours in Black Bajan women in Barbados
  • Patient Prioritizations when Accessing Medicine for NCD Management in Rural Uganda
  • Investigating the community-level variation of soil-transmitted helminth prevalence in Kpandai district, Ghana: a qualitative study
  • A Qualitative Assessment of the Social Media Usage and Sexual Risk Behaviors in MSM and Transgender Women in Chennai, India