Stephen Selinsky originally hails from southeast Michigan and attended the University of Michigan, earning degrees in Microbiology and Philosophy. After completing his undergraduate degree, Stephen relocated to the Fiji Islands where he spent two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer working with rural community health workers. In Fiji, he was introduced to the realities of resource poor settings as he supported a broad scope of grassroots initiatives ranging from sanitation and hygiene to reproductive health and domestic violence. Upon returning home, he continued to his education in international development and medicine by taking a job with Partners In Health (PIH) focused on relief and recovery from the 2010 Haitian earthquake. At PIH, he personally witnessed the impact of human and financial resources when appropriately administered, but also saw the danger and failures of trying to repair infrastructure that had been only tenuously functional prior to the disaster. In 2011, Stephen began volunteering with Last Mile Health, based in southeast Liberia, and shortly thereafter matriculated into Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.
Although medical school has been his primary focus for the past three years, he continues to be interested in the role of front-line health workers in health care delivery in geographically isolated regions, and plans to carry out his research with Liberian-based colleagues later this year.
Project: "Distributing Health In Rural Liberia"
December 1, 2014 - March 31, 2015
Ziah Town, Grand Gedeh County, Liberia
What does the Kean Fellowship mean to you?
Throughout my young career in global health, I've been fortunate to find myself surrounded by communities rich in compassion and inspiration. Committed volunteers, physicians, and administrators have shown how much can done by living a mission. These communities have sustained me though difficult work and challenged the way I look at the world. They’ve made me a better clinician, scientist, and person.
Without this grant, it would be difficult to imagine, financially, how I would be able to pursue this research. However, the Kean Fellowship is exceptionally meaningful to me because of the opportunity it affords to further grow and develop the community that I have found so sustaining. I look forward to connecting with other Kean fellows, past and present, and the opportunities for academic growth and collaboration that may lie therein.
What do you anticipate learning?
While medical school has prepared me well for clinical work, I don’t yet feel confident designing and carrying out epidemiological or population-based endeavors. My time in Liberia will give me the opportunity to pursue very focused questions, develop research tools, and design interventions with the guidance of both in-country mentors and advisers at home. More importantly, this fellowship will give me the time I need to grow in my understanding of Liberia and to lay down foundation upon which to build a future career.
What interests you about tropical medicine and what problems are you interested in solving?
The gap in global health delivery, the difference between what we know about medicine and what much of the world experiences in care, is the greatest challenge facing clinicians and policy makers alike. Limited infrastructure, political instability, and structural violence have created systems of vast disparity between and within populations around the globe. Geographically isolated populations in particular stand to gain tremendously from expanding the reach of a strong central healthcare system, but limited resources tend to aggregate by population density. The future of tropical medicine, from vaccination programs to control of epidemics, depends on figuring out how to grow health worker networks more broadly to provide meaningful health care access across all populations.