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First Ben-Gurion Global Health Scholarship Awarded

First Ben-Gurion Global Health Scholarship Awarded

March 13, 2018

Leadership, Awards & Events, Press Releases

The Medical School for International Health (MSIH) at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) has awarded its inaugural Ben-Gurion Global Health Scholarship to Shayna Miodownik of Flushing, New York.

Shayna Miodownik

The highly competitive Ben-Gurion Global Health Scholarship covers full tuition for the M.D. program at MSIH, the groundbreaking medical school that incorporates global health components into all four years of its core medical curriculum.

MSIH was one of the first programs worldwide to provide medical training for physicians to work with underserved populations in developing countries, rural areas, inner cities, and Israel’s Negev region, which has large communities of Bedouins and immigrants.

“My experiences working with underserved communities in many places has helped me understand the need for a holistic, culturally sensitive approach to healthcare,” says Miodownik, who is currently working as a research analyst and consultant for biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms.

“I know MSIH’s philosophy and curriculum will provide the comprehensive medical school experience I need to pursue my passion of working with diverse, underserved communities as a physician in the global health arena.”

Miodownik will begin her studies in July. Her desire to attend Ben-Gurion University is deeply rooted in her mother’s experience meeting David Ben-Gurion when she was 10 years old, two years after the 1967 war. “David Ben-Gurion’s words still resonate with my mother today,” says Miodownik. “At his kibbutz in Sde Boker, Ben-Gurion told my mother she must come to Israel because Israel needs the youth to build the country. Now, 50 years later, I am thrilled to be the one to bring my energy and passion to Ben-Gurion University and to the field of medicine.”

“Shayna’s drive, commitment and experience working with underserved global populations embodies so much of MSIH’s spirit and ethos,” says Lenore Taplitzky, administrative director of MSIH’s New York office. “She has already accomplished so much working with underserved communities while advancing her medical research skills, and she will be a notable member of the class of 2022.”

Miodownik has been motivated to serve the sick and less fortunate since she was a teenager. She began in high school as a home helper to a single mother of triplet babies who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. After high school, she continued her volunteer work in Israel, spending a year at a hospital that provides therapy for Palestinian and Israeli children with traumatic brain injuries, and a year working with Yemenite immigrants on a farm and at a rehabilitation center for adults with developmental disabilities.

Her work with diverse, and low-income populations ranges from shadowing doctors at Maimonides Hospital in New York, a hub for immigrant patients, to volunteering with local doctors and clinics in underserved Uganda villages where many patients were seeking asylum. In Kampala, she participated in deworming projects, taught breastfeeding mothers about the risks of infection and HIV, and designed creative programs to help break the cycle of malnutrition, decrease infant mortality, and promote better hygiene in areas that lack basic plumbing infrastructures.

Miodownik, who currently lives in Tel Aviv, has an M.S. in molecular biology and genetics, and a B.S. in life sciences from Bar-Ilan University, where she served as a teaching assistant in biochemistry and biology labs, and a research assistant in several additional labs. She attended Shevach High School in Queens.

The prestigious four-year MSIH scholarship will be awarded annually to one outstanding medical student anywhere in the world who has an excellent academic track record and a demonstrated interest in building a career in global health.

A committee of world leaders in global health and medicine evaluated applicants for the first Ben-Gurion Global Health Scholarship:


  • Neil Schluger, professor of medicine, epidemiology and environmental health sciences, and chief of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

Deputy Chair

  • Lynne Quittell, assistant director of admissions and student affairs at MSIH, and a pulmonologist at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons


  • Michael J. Klag, dean of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Babulal Sethia, president of the Royal Society of Medicine and consultant congenital heart surgeon at Royal Brompton Hospital, United Kingdom
  • Heather Zar, chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, director of the School of Child and Adolescent Health at Red Cross Children’s Hospital at the University of Cape Town, South Africa

Prospective students who submit a completed admissions application starting July 2018 through January 8, 2019 will be considered for the next academic year beginning July 2019.

In addition to the new global health scholarship, MSIH also has several longstanding scholarships, based on merit and financial need, to support students dedicated to the field of global health.

About the Medical School for International Health

The Medical School for International Health (MSIH) at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) is a unique medical school that incorporates global health components into all four years of the core M.D. curriculum. As a small and prestigious medical school, MSIH offers an M.D. program that teaches students in English and provides the training necessary to practice medicine while meeting the challenges of global health — and make a real impact. With three years of study and training in Israel, fourth-year electives in North America and an eight-week global health clerkship at one of many sites in underserved communities throughout the world, the M.D. program is designed to provide an exciting path to residency in the United States, Canada and elsewhere. MSIH match rates are more than 90 percent, on par with top U.S. medical schools. For more information, visit http://msih.bgu.ac.il/.


Americans for Ben-Gurion University plays a vital role in maintaining David Ben-Gurion’s vision of an “Oxford in the Negev.” By supporting a world-class academic institution that not only nurtures the Negev, but also shares its expertise locally and globally, Americans for Ben-Gurion University engages a community of Americans who are committed to improving the world. The Americans for Ben-Gurion University movement supports a 21st century unifying vision for Israel by rallying around BGU’s remarkable work and role as an apolitical beacon of light in the Negev desert.

Media Contact:
Andrew Lavin
A. Lavin Communications
[email protected]