New scholarships and support for COVID-19 epi fellows

Portrait of Former Emory President Claire E. Sterk and husband Kirk Elifson

Portrait of Bruce Brown and Ami Shah Brown.

Claire E. Sterk and Kirk W. Elifson, top, and Bruce Brown and Ami Shah Brown, directly above, have established new scholarships.

Drs. Claire E. Sterk and Kirk W. Elifson have established the Claire E. Sterk Scholarship Endowment. The fund will provide scholarship support to Rollins students with preference for students with a demonstrated interest in addressing the public health challenges related to addiction. “Our collaborative public health research over the past 30 years in the Atlanta community revealed the critical role played by alcohol and substance abuse in exacerbating physical and mental health challenges, community disorganization, and individual distress,” says Sterk.

“We seek to focus on underlying social and health disparities that public health students are ideally positioned to address,” says Elifson.

Sterk served as the 20th president of Emory University from 2016 to 2020, and as provost and senior vice provost beginning in 2005. Prior to those roles, she dedicated her career to research in addiction, mental health, and HIV/AIDS, and she continues that work today in Rollins. Her research support from the National Institutes of Health totals more than $35 million, and she has authored three books and well over 100 academic publications. 

Dr. Ami Shah Brown 00MPHand Bruce Brown 01MPHhave established the Shah Brown Family Scholarship in memory of their daughter, Kaia Morgan Moten Brown. “We originally started thinking about the scholarship as a way to honor Kaia,” says Ami. “But it’s also
a celebration of the fact that public health brings together diverse perspectives and backgrounds, and Bruce and I are representative of that.”

As senior vice president of regulatory affairs for Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Ami works on the development of new vaccines
and immunotherapies. Bruce is president of Natreon, a nutrition and life-sciences company. “We represent different areas of public health,” says Ami. “We wanted to commemorate that, in public health, it’s all important.” 

Funding from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation allowed the establishment of the Rollins COVID-19 Epidemiology Fellows program, a two-year service and training fellowship that aims to bolster Georgia’s epidemiologic capacity. Additional funding from five foundations has allowed the program to recruit its first cohort of 17 recent MPH graduates and place them as entry-level epidemiologists at the Georgia Department of Public Health and across the state’s health districts. 

The R. Howard Dobbs Jr. Foundation provided funding for a fellow in the Savannah/Brunswick/Coastal Health District. Callaway Foundation supported a fellow in the LaGrange Health District. “We were excited to have the chance to be part of the program,” says Tripp Penn, president of Callaway Foundation. “The last year has shown us how critical public health is to our state and how under-resourced our statewide and local teams are.”  

In the Albany/Southwest Health District, the Williams Family Foundation of Georgia supported a fellow. “COVID has unmasked for the rest of Georgia and the United States what we have known for some time as a rural-based funder, that decades of underinvestment in the public health infrastructure is detrimental to our community’s overall health,” says Alston Watt, executive director of the foundation. 

In the Columbus/West Central Health District, the Bradley-Turner Foundation and the Kathelen V. and Daniel P. Amos Fund, Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley funded a fellow. “One of the biggest lessons of this pandemic to us is the absolutely critical role that a comprehensive public health response is to the well-being of all of our citizens,” says Kathelen Amos 79C, Emory trustee and adviser to the fund.