July 20, 2023

Ethan Phillips

Ethan Phillips

Ethan Phillips, a recent graduate of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, has been named a 2023 recipient of the John and Diana Barry Scholarship, which provides full funding for graduate study at the University of Oxford. This fall, he will be reading for a Master of Sciences (MSc) degree in Modelling for Global Health at Reuben College in Oxford, concentrating on health care economics, reform and equity.

The Barry Scholarship is an academic prize awarded to American citizens and permanent residents in recognition of their dedication to the academic vocation and the pursuit of truth, generously funded by the John and Daria Barry Foundation. It provides full funding for a minimum of two years of graduate study at the University of Oxford in any discipline and for any degree.

“One of the main public health challenges I hope to learn about and work on is funding allocation and payment models for primary care,” Phillips said. “Having the opportunity to study in the United Kingdom will give me new understanding about payment structures and health care funding outside of the United States, which could help lead to improvements in Medicare and Medicaid programs to more equitably distribute funding to underserved areas.”

The Barry Scholarship is awarded by academics themselves through a dedicated network of nominators at leading academic institutions in Britain and the U.S. and, as a prize, cannot be applied for. Support includes a substantial living stipend, payment of all tuition fees and university costs, a research allowance and a travel allowance. In addition, the Canterbury Institute devotes resources to helping Barry Scholars run research events of their own design.

Phillips says the course of study at Oxford will give him the opportunity to learn new quantitative research skills he can potentially take back with him to the U.S. “But what makes me most excited about this particular course is the focus on effective research communication and experiential learning,” he explained. “During my final term, I will work with a research center to apply my new skills in a real-world setting and turn research into policy. “

Phillips graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill this spring with highest honors, earning a Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) degree in health policy and management (HPM) with minors in public policy and chemistry. As an undergraduate, he was a Morehead-Cain scholar whose research focused on using health information technology to advance health equity in primary care settings.

“I came into college expecting to study public policy with a focus in health. However, I learned about the BSPH program through a first-year course in global health policy with Professor Benjamin Mason Meier and was immediately drawn to HPM,” he said. “My studies at Gillings and my work at the UNC Center for Health Equity Research have continued to fuel my passion for health care reform, centered in improving access and quality for the most vulnerable and marginalized communities.”

His outstanding academic accomplishments earned him the Department of Health Policy and Management’s James P. Dixon Award for Excellence in Education and the Arnold Kaluzny Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research, as well as the Chancellor’s Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for unselfish dedication to human welfare.

“Ethan has excelled at UNC, achieving Phi Beta Kappa honors, authorship on multiple scholarly journal articles and recognition as a Buckley Public Service Scholar,” said Melanie Studer, PhD, MSHA, assistant professor and director of undergraduate studies in health policy and management. “Motivated by his strong service orientation, deep commitment to mental health advocacy and desire to advance health equity, Ethan has worked tirelessly to ensure the health and wellness needs of students and campus employees are understood and addressed through his leadership roles with the UNC-Chapel Hill Student Government and the UNC System Association of Student Governments, and his membership on the UNC Campus Health Advisory Board, the Campus Mental Health Transformation Steering Committee and the Gillings Student Wellness Task Force. Ethan is a true servant-leader who strives to ensure others have the resources and conditions necessary to flourish.”

“Ethan’s research record is among the most impressive I have seen for an undergraduate,” said Karl Umble, PhD, MPH, associate professor in health policy and management. “Just as importantly, Ethan is also invariably thoughtful and kind in his interactions with faculty and other students. I have no doubt that Ethan will have an influential career in practice, research and leadership.”

Phillips’ student advocacy also included serving as vice president for health and wellness for the UNC Association of Student Governments, which served the entire UNC system, and he was the sole undergraduate representative on the UNC provost search committee.

“Ethan is talented and has an extremely broad range of intellectual interests,” said Christopher Clemens, PhD, provost and Chief Academic Officer at UNC-Chapel Hill. “Ethan has natural gifts in physics, chemistry, engineering and medicine. He wants to nourish the parts of his character that can respond to human tragedy with empathy and compassion. Ethan is truly a deserving recipient of the Barry Scholarship, and we are delighted about the opportunity it provides Ethan to align interest, talent and character.”

Phillips will be moving to the United Kingdom in the fall and intends to apply to medical school after graduation with the goal of pursuing a career as a physician and health policy scholar.

“Ethan is a truly remarkable young man who will make a difference in this world as a physician, researcher, leader and public health practitioner,” said Morris Weinberger, PhD, the Vergil N. Slee Distinguished Professor of Healthcare Quality and Management, who was Phillips’ advisor. “I am confident he will be a physician-scientist who conducts innovative research that helps health care systems deliver high-quality, accessible care that will have equity at its center.”

Read the full announcement from the Barry Scholars.

Contact the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at sphcomm@unc.edu.

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