Geisel School of Medicine students Omar Sajjad ’26 and James Feng ’25 are among 13 medical students nationwide selected by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation as 2023 Gold Student Summer Fellows.
The highly competitive fellowships support humanistic healthcare in underserved communities to help address health inequities through service and research projects that involve direct interaction with patients and community members. Projects that may be either research or service-oriented help students develop skills to become relationship-centered physicians while addressing a public health need in an underserved population.
Sajjad and Feng’s service project, Health Education and Enrichment Program for Adults with Disabilities in Rural New Hampshire seeks to address the systemic need for health education and social enrichment opportunities among adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs). The project focuses on residents living at Visions for Creative Housing Solutions, which provides supportive housing here in the Upper Valley. A 2022 report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that New Hampshire adults with IDDs were 1.5 times more likely to develop obesity, twice as likely to develop diabetes, and three times more likely to develop heart disease than adults without a disability.
The project’s goal is to actively engage adults with IDDs around improved health outcomes. During the 10-week fellowship, Sajjad and Feng aim to create regular interaction with an estimated 70 Visions home residents. Interactive health education and recreational activities will be organized into health-themed classes that will be reinforced through socially engaging activities with no cost to participants. Once the fellowship period ends, the project will continue as part of the Disability Advocacy Group (DAG), a student organization at Geisel.
"We're thrilled to receive a Gold Fellowship,” Sajjad says. “This grant will allow us to bring our dream project to fruition. In the process, we hope to build a deep, long-lasting connection with the local intellectually and developmentally disabled community.”
“Adults with developmental disabilities are one of the most poorly served and cared-for demographics in our country,” Feng notes. “As future healthcare providers, we think there is a lot we can learn and share from this experience that can end up being useful for our future careers and patients.”