The Health Policy Fellows Program is a prestigious doctoral fellowship program for students with educational and research interests that include health and health policy analysis and research. The RWJF Health Policy Fellows Program seeks to increase the participation of underrepresented groups throughout the nation in the development, implementation, and analysis of health policy.

Vanderbilt University, in collaboration with Meharry Medical College, accepts qualified applicants to one of their PhD programs in economics, political science, or sociology. Accepted PhD students will earn a doctorate degree from Vanderbilt University while participating in additional coursework, seminars and research activities at Meharry Medical College.

Accepted PhD candidates will receive a generous five-year funding package which includes:

  • paid tuition;
  • department-based stipend of $17,500 per academic year;
  • supplemental participation stipend of $10,000 per academic year;
  • summer funding of $4,500 per summer period; and
  • health insurance.

All application materials should be submitted online to the Graduate School at Vanderbilt University.

Please mention in the application "statement of interest" that you wish to be considered for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellows Program at Meharry Medical College.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: The RWJF Center for Health Policy is no longer accepting applications.

Please visit the Meharry home page and to learn more about these institutions.


Briana AdsitBriana Adsit


Briana Adsit is a doctoral student in the Department of Economics at Vanderbilt University. Originally from Spring, Texas, Adsit graduated cum laude from the University of Dallas with a bachelor's degree in economics and finance with a concentration in business. During her undergraduate career, she studied abroad for a semester in Rome, Italy at the University of Dallas Eugene Constantin campus. Her research interests include health policy, Hispanic health issues, and immigrant access to health care. Adsit enjoys taking photographs and scrapbooking in her spare time.

Mia KeeysMia R. Keeys


Mia Keeys is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at Vanderbilt University. Keeys is a Cheyney University Keystone Honors Academy graduate, where she studied English and psychology and studied abroad in Ghana, West Africa. Upon graduation, Keeys became a Kaiser Family Foundation Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholar working on health policy in Senator Tom Harkin's (D-IA) D.C. office. It was here that she became greatly influenced in studying health policy. Observing the policy formation process afforded her invaluable insight into the role of social science research toward law making. Afterward, Keeys served in the Deputy Mayor's Office for Health and Opportunity in her hometown of Philadelphia before relocating to South Africa to work with loveLife, the nation's premier HIV/AIDS youth prevention campaign. At loveLife, Keeys conducted multi-provincial research on communicative barriers between youth and caregivers concerning sex and sexuality. She also explored the ramifications of male circumcision toward HIV/AIDS reduction. Her time in South Africa encouraged her to explore areas where health policies are burgeoning, thus, she pursued a U.S. Fulbright Scholarship in West Timor, Indonesia. Keeys spent three years in Indonesia, achieving fluidity of the national language, Bahasa Indonesia, and observing how Indonesian youth are motivated toward positive health behavior change. Keeys aims to merge her research interests of health disparities and creative health communications messaging toward African Diaspora youth of the southern U.S. region, southern Africa and South East Asia. She envisions herself eventually writing and producing health media and influencing domestic and international health policies. In her spare time, you can find her writing, reading, dancing, surfing, and playing the flute.



Salama Freed is a doctoral student in the Department of Economics at Vanderbilt University. Her primary research interests are in understanding risky health behaviors, most notably those related to addiction, obesity, and exposure to infectious diseases. Prior to her matriculation at Vanderbilt, Salama earned master's degrees from North Carolina State University and Duke University as well as an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University.

GABRIELA LEONGabriela León-Perez

Gabriela León-Perez is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at Vanderbilt University. A native of Mexico, León graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree in international studies from the Universidad de Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico. During her undergraduate coursework, she studied a semester abroad in Austria where she attended IMC Fachhoschule Krems. She later obtained a master's degree in sociology from Texas A&M International University. Her research interests include Hispanic health, health disparities, immigration, and immigrant identity.


taylor_hargroveTaylor Hargrove

Taylor Hargrove is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at Vanderbilt University. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, she received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2011. Her interests include examining the intersection of health and health disparities (both physical and mental), education, family, and racial identity as they relate to life course outcomes of black and white Americans. Taylor aspires to become a tenure-track professor at a Research-I institution.

erica_leslieErika Leslie

Erika Leslie was born in Jamaica, and migrated to the United States to attend Fisk University. At Fisk, she earned a bachelor’s of science degree in biology. She then matriculated to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where she received a master of science in public health in reproductive and cancer biology with a certification in health disparities. She is a doctoral candidate at Vanderbilt University and resides in Nashville with her husband and dog. Her research interests include access to care, social determinants of health, Afro-Caribbean immigrants, and health policy.

whitney_lopezWhitney López-Hardin

Whitney López-Hardin is a Ph.D. student in political science at Vanderbilt University. Her primary field of study is comparative politics with a secondary focus in American politics. Her research interests include migration, race and identity politics, and gender with regard to health care access. She obtained a B.A. degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in international studies and Spanish. She also earned an M.A. degree from the University of Florida in Latin American studies with a concentration in political science. Her previous research includes a thesis on Puerto Rican circular migration and identity. She is a member of Alpha Gamma Delta and in her spare time enjoys competing in half marathons.

daniel_telloDaniel S. Tello

Daniel S. Tello is a Ph.D. student in economics at Vanderbilt University. Daniel was born and raised in Lima, Peru. After coming to the U.S., he received a B.S. degree in pure mathematics and economics from Florida State University where he wrote an honors thesis on parents’ decisions in signing up their children for SCHIP. His research interests include development economics (application of RCTs for policy evaluations and behavior of low-income groups), and health policies in the U.S. and developing countries. Prior to his studies at Vanderbilt he was a project associate for Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) based in New Haven, Connecticut.  Before joining IPA he worked as research assistant for a development economist at the Catholic University of Lima (PUCP).

kanetha_wilsonKanetha Wilson

Kanetha Wilson is a doctoral student in the sociology department at Vanderbilt University. Prior to Vanderbilt, Kanetha worked primarily in managerial and teaching positions within the education sector. She earned her bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Tennessee, where she was nominated and inducted into Phi Beta Kappa Society. Her research interests include health disparities, physical and mental health of minority children, and the impact of health interventions on the labor market.


helena_dagaduHelena Dagadu, M.P.H.

Helena Dagadu is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology at Vanderbilt University. Before beginning her studies at Vanderbilit, she worked for the American Psychological Association’s Office on Socioeconomic Status as program manager of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded program addressing cancer health disparities in underserved populations. Helena’s research and professional interests include comparative health and health policy, health disparities, social determinants of health, and international medical migration. Helena graduated summa cum laude from Loyola University Maryland in psychology and classical civilization. She holds a master’s degree in public health from the George Washington University.

courtney_thomasCourtney Sinclair Thomas

Courtney Sinclair Thomas is a native of New Orleans. She attended Xavier University of Louisiana and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology while minoring in chemistry and sociology. While at Xavier, she participated in several organizations, including the McNair Scholars Program and Psi Chi Psychology Honor Society.  She also is a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Courtney is a graduate student in the sociology doctoral program at Vanderbilt University. Her research interests are maternal and child health, specifically social factors that contribute to the high rate of infant mortality in the African-American community.