Medical student earns infectious disease research award

Second-year medical student Christeebella Akpala has received the National Medical Association (NMA) Emerging Scholars Infectious Disease Research Award from the National Medical Fellowship.

This new award was established earlier this year for African American medical students with a demonstrated interest in pursuing careers in infectious diseases research and clinical trials. Akpala is one of only two medical students across the country to receive this $11,500 award. This scholarship was based on an applicant’s overall potential to contribute to the future of medicine through research, leadership and engagement.

Akpala is a native of Minnesota who worked as a critical care nurse prior to beginning medical school. She is passionate about health equity and is currently working on research that explores the disproportionate fatality of the SARS-COV 2 (COVID-19) on minority populations. As she devotes time to research and clinical trials in medicine, she looks forward to becoming an orthopedic surgeon in the near future.

“As a global citizen, I believe we can do better to prepare for and anticipate infectious states without gross debility and handicap. This award not only keeps me grounded and humbled but also motivates me to continue to contribute to the future of medicine,” Akpala said. “This award is a representation of the support and mentorship I have gotten from my School of Medicine family, most especially [associate dean] Dr. Shelvy Campbell and the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, for creating awareness about these national scholarships.”

National Medical Fellowships is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the number of underrepresented minority physicians and other professionals in the health care workforce in order to improve access to quality health care in medically underserved communities.