Anthony Puthumana

Anthony is a fourth-year medical student at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY. He entered medical school with a vision for using his training to serve an underserved population in the United States through primary care practice. He also has a keen interest in global health and hopes to work in that arena through research and practice.

Prior to medical school, he conducted basic science research and worked as a project manager overseeing clinical research trials. He has made many visits to his parents’ native land of India, volunteering in clinical roles there as well as in Haiti and in Ethiopia under the mentorship of global health pioneer Rick Hodes, MD, FACP. Anthony will pursue a combined residency training in internal medicine and pediatrics, ideally in a program with an integrated global health component.

He is very excited for his 2016 expedition to Machala, Ecuador, supported by the Benjamin H. Kean Travel Fellowship in Tropical Medicine, as it will be his first foray into tropical medicine and clinical research in a resource-limited setting in South America. His project is part of a larger research initiative by SUNY’s Center for Global Health and Translational Science, ongoing since 2010 and studying mosquito-borne diseases in the region, including dengue, chikungunya and now Zika viruses.

Project: "Influence of Comorbidities on the Clinical Presentation and Severity of Dengue Fever: a Case-Control Study"  
June 20, 2016 - August 28, 2016


What does the Kean Fellowship mean to you?
I am honored to be selected as a Kean Fellow and humbled by the achievements and contributions made by predecessor Fellows and Dr. Kean himself. It is a tremendous support financially and logistically to enable me to explore an international research project as a student with limited means. I intend to maximize the opportunity afforded me and hope to make an impact while taking away lessons that will surely last my lifetime.

What do you anticipate learning?
The entirety of my international experience has been as a volunteer in clinical roles, so I am pursuing a research experience in an attempt to broaden my skill set and contribute to the scientific body of knowledge. As none of my prior experiences were in a Spanish-speaking country, I also seek to practically apply my eight years of classroom Spanish training to better connect with the local community for a more impactful experience. I hope this opportunity will be contributory in itself and become a springboard for further formal scientific inquiry going forward in my career.

What interests you about tropical medicine and what problems are you interested in solving?
My interest in tropical medicine and infectious diseases began with exposure on the ground abroad prior to beginning medical school. My first exposure came as a young adult witnessing the devastating consequences of malaria as a clinical volunteer in a hospital in Patna, India, where my uncle and aunt are missionaries. Later, I spent brief periods volunteering in clinical contexts in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where the late manifestations of diseases such as tuberculosis of the spine and rheumatic heart disease were observed as daily occurrences due to the lack of early intervention resulting from inadequate access to care. These experiences shaped my interest in medicine and inspired a commitment within me to a lifetime of service to an underserved global population.