Justin Hills is a second-year medical student at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, NC. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Justin’s family relocated to Charlotte, NC, when he was 13, and he completed high school there. He then attended North Carolina State University as a Park Scholar and studied human biology and Africana studies. During his sophomore year, Justin developed a passion for tropical medicine while investigating the association between aflatoxins and liver disease in Kumasi, Ghana, at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. After graduating from NC State, he spent two years exploring his interests in clinical research at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases before starting medical school.
At UNC, Justin is a Regional Pre-Medical Liaison within the Student National Medical Association, where he serves as a mentor and resource for undergraduate students interested in health professions. Committed to rectifying minority health disparities, he also volunteers monthly at the Bloomer Hill People’s Clinic in Whitakers, NC – a free clinic in a small town of approximately 800 residents. Outside of medical school, Justin enjoys trying new recipes and catching up on the latest films and their reviews.
Project: "Introducing Diagnostic Methods for Sickle Cell Disease in Malawi"
June 12, 2017 - July 31, 2017
What does the Kean Fellowship mean to you?
I am ecstatic to be selected as a 2017 Benjamin H. Kean Fellow. I consider the Kean Fellowship to be an early investment in my career development for which I am incredibly grateful and honored to receive. In addition to the generous financial support of this fellowship, joining the Kean community will provide me with an invaluable opportunity to be mentored by renowned leaders in tropical medicine while also meeting inspiring students with similar career interests. I am wholeheartedly looking forward to growing within the Kean program and the ASTMH.
What do you anticipate learning?
Malawi is among the smallest countries in Africa. However, like many Sub-Saharan African countries, Malawi has a substantial sickle cell disease (SCD) burden and scarce resources for its diagnosis and treatment. I anticipate learning more about the natural history of sickle cell disease in Malawi and gaining a better understanding of the complexities surrounding global health interventions. I am looking forward to dedicating my work ethic and enthusiasm to a team of phenomenal clinicians and researchers who are seeking to provide a foundation for a comprehensive care and research program addressing sickle cell disease, especially considering its disproportionate burden.
What interests you about tropical medicine and what problems are you interested in solving?
Unfortunately, many of the diseases that affect minority communities across the world are tropical and preventable infectious diseases. I am particularly interested in filling the gaps in translational research related to these diseases, especially as they concern maternal, infant and child health. In addition to implementing sustainable programs for research and care, I also aspire to dedicate my career to advocacy for greater resource allocation amongst disadvantaged and underserved communities. I am confident that my passion for service and commitment to global health equity will be best nurtured by my participation in the Kean program.