Seth Congdon is a second year medical student at the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Congdon completed his undergraduate studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he majored in Biology. Congdon showed an early interest in working in the developing world and took a leave of absence during the spring semester of freshman year to teach English and math at a secondary school in the village of Mugumu, Tanzania.
Congdon has spent time in several labs in the US and abroad. Following college, he worked as a lab intern and clinical research assistant on a UNC project in Lilongwe, Malawi. He then returned to the US where he worked in HIV and malaria labs while applying to medical school. This past summer, Congdon was part of a team studying rotovirus vaccine failure at the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) in Lusaka, Zambia.
Outside of the lab, Congdon enjoys hiking, reading, going to concerts, and seeking out new music. He currently hosts two radio programs, one on his local community station in Carrboro, NC, WCOM, and one on UNC’s station WXYC. His goal is to become an infectious diseases doctor, which he hopes will include lots of clinical research in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Project: "Factors Contributing to Rotavirus Vaccine Efficacy in Lusaka, Zambia"
June 3, 2013 - August 5, 2013
What does the Kean Fellowship mean to you?
My reaction to receiving the Kean Fellowship was a mixture of gratitude, pride, and relief. Like most medical students, I have been taking out loans to pay for my education. The skills and knowledge, character and friendships that I am gaining are worth years of careful budgeting. I want to use these gifts to give back, to serve communities both at home in the US and abroad in Africa. Keeping my debt load as low as possible will help keep my options open after finishing medical school, allowing me to pursue opportunities that may be more fulfilling if less lucrative. The Kean Fellowship helped to ease the financial burden of my trip to Zambia this summer, and also along the greater journey towards a career in infectious diseases and tropical medicine.
What interests you about tropical medicine and what problems are you interested in solving?
My time in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the personal growth and meaningful connections I made there, fuel my desire to become a doctor and give back by focusing on the area. I have had first-hand experience with malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and rotavirus gastroenteritis, and I look forward to continuing to learn more about these and other infectious diseases so that I can effectively manage their treatment and work to reduce transmission. I also want to combat the rising threat that non-communicable diseases—cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes—pose to vulnerable populations in the developing world. I hope to work on solving these problems through a career in tropical medicine.