Austin is a fourth year medical student at Washington University in St. Louis (WashU), where he will also be completing a Master of Public Health degree. The eldest of four, Austin is from San Antonio, TX. He moved to St. Louis in 2007 for his undergraduate studies at WashU, and has been there ever since. Austin graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry and a Bachelor of Music from WashU, and he has continued his musical interests in medical school as a cantor and choir section leader at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, the lead of the school musical during his first year, and occasional string quartets and assorted ensembles.
Austin plans to pursue a residency in Medicine-Pediatrics, fueled by a strong interest in global health and primary care. His interests in global health began in an anthropology seminar course his freshman year of undergrad, later growing through a two-week immersion trip to rural Honduras with the Catholic Student Center at WashU during his sophomore year and after two-months working with a health-related NGO called Omni Med in rural Uganda. These experiences brought purpose and clarity to Austin's budding medical career, and he is excited to return to Africa soon.
Project: "Healthcare & Household Barriers to Regional Rotavirus Vaccination Campaign"
December 1, 2014 - January 31, 2015
What does the Kean Fellowship mean to you?
I opened the email congratulating me on being named a 2014 Kean Fellow moments before starting choir rehearsal, and I could not stop smiling for the rest of the evening. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to travel to Zambia and am humbled to have been selected. Through this research fellowship, I will work towards becoming the physician I pledged to be, one who treats individual patients and fights for the health of marginalized populations.
What do you anticipate learning?
I will be working with the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia on a rotavirus vaccination project, focusing on barriers to vaccinating children under 5 years of age. Although I am passionate about global health and providing basic healthcare to all human beings, I need more experience in how to design and implement research projects in developing countries, and the Kean Fellowship offers this exact opportunity. Through the research skills I will develop, I can work towards better understanding the various determinants of disease and treatment outcomes. These insights can help guide funds and efforts abroad toward root causes and thus more directly improve health.
What interests you about tropical medicine and what problems are you interested in solving?
I want to serve the impoverished and ensure that each human being receives basic healthcare because I perceive the Hippocratic oath through the lens of The World Health Organization’s Millennium Development Goals and the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I would prefer to work in a rural setting because those populations have less access to care and are often economically and politically marginalized. My research interests lie in determining how to best use limited resources to provide patients a standard level of care.