Joshua Yudkin, MA, MPH, a doctoral student in epidemiology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health in Dallas, has been selected for a Fulbright award.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the United States and partner countries. Fulbright grant recipients are selected based on academic and professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential.
Yudkin will be using this award to support his research with Luis Alejandro Gómez Barrera, PhD, at La Universidad El Bosque in Bogotá, Colombia, on developing new national healthcare policies and strategies aimed at disease prevention. Their work emphasizes targeting common risk factors for cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, rather than focusing on treating specific diseases.
“The lack of physical activity, poor diet and nutrition, tobacco use and alcohol consumption are ?The Big Four’ risk factors shared by many chronic diseases and should be synergistically addressed,’” Yudkin says.
In Dallas, Joshua is mentored by his faculty advisor Sarah Messiah, PhD, MPH, professor and director of the UTHealth School of Public Health in Dallas Center for Pediatric Population Health, where he has worked assessing the socio-cultural factors that impact cardiovascular diseases. He has also served as the president of student association on the Dallas campus.
A native of Dallas, Yudkin graduated from St. Mark’s School of Texas, where he was chairman of the school’s community service board. He earned his bachelor’s in international studies and Spanish and master’s degrees in public health and international affairs from Washington University in St. Louis, and went on to work in the private, public and nonprofit sectors.
Yudkin has conducted both field and clinical research in rural communities in India and Mexico as well as clinical research with hospital systems in Texas and the National Institutes of Health. He has also served on both their international board of directors and as Chief of Staff at Hillel International, the American Jewish Committee’s ACCESS Board in Dallas, the board of trustees for the Jewish Federation of St. Louis and, and is currently the recipient of The Ralph I. Goldman Fellowship in Global Jewish Leadership (RIG) from the Joint Distribution Committee. In addition, Yudkin has taught health literacy courses for immigrants with the Aberg Center for Literacy and was internationally recognized by the Association of Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies for his work in serving as president of their local board in St. Louis.
Yudkin says his varied educational, work and volunteer experiences, which also include stints as an EMT and working on Capitol Hill, fostered in him a passion for population-level health issues.
“I believe that bringing together excellence from different fields with different trainings always leads to something greater, and that is exactly what happens in transdisciplinary public health work,” says Yudkin, adding that he is, “excited and motivated,” to begin his work in Colombia.
Gomez Barrera, his local collaborator and mentor at La Universidad El Bosque, echoes Yudkin’s enthusiasm.
“We are very happy and proud of Joshua's visit and we are looking forward to hosting him here in Bogotá,” Gómez Barrera says. “Our relationship with the University of Texas spans more than five years, and is marked by great communication, partnerships, and friends who have come to our university, both students and faculty.”