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October 22, 2004

New Scholarship to Recruit Public Health Leaders of The Future

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has established a new $22 million dollar scholarship program to recruit the next generation of public health leaders to devise new, effective interventions to improve global health. The Hopkins Sommer Scholars program aims to train the brightest, most promising students. The first class of Sommer Scholars will be named in early 2005.

“This is a major scholarship. This really creates an elite scholars’ program,” said Ron Brookmeyer, PhD, chair of the Masters of Public Health program at the Bloomberg School. “Its focus will be on leaders. We are looking for students who will one day have a significant impact on global health.”

The Hopkins Sommer Scholars program is supported by a $22 million gift made to the Bloomberg School of Public Health in April 2004 by an anonymous donor who believed there is a great need to develop new leadership in public health. The program was named by the donor in honor of Alfred Sommer, MD, MHS, dean of the Bloomberg School.

In the 1980s, Dr. Sommer discovered that mild vitamin A deficiency dramatically increased childhood mortality and that the debilitating consequences of vitamin A deficiency could be effectively, quickly and cheaply treated with oral high-dose vitamin A supplementation. His discovery led to changes in global health practices, which continue to save the lives of millions of children worldwide.

The Hopkins Sommer Scholars program will support up to 15 new Master’s of Public Health students and up to 15 new doctoral students each year, beginning with the 2005-2006 academic year.

“When I review student applications, all of a sudden you come across someone who is already a star, who has so much dedication and leadership potential that it’s clear this student is outstanding—those are the people we will put forth for consideration as Hopkins Sommer Scholars,” said James Yager, PhD, senior associate dean of Academic Affairs at the Bloomberg School.

Each academic program within the Bloomberg School of Public Health will nominate its most outstanding applicants to be Hopkins Sommer Scholars for consideration by a School-wide faculty committee. In addition to meeting the School’s normal rigorous academic demands, Sommer Scholars will participate in special enrichment activities, which will include a series of seminars, meetings on Capitol Hill and internship opportunities in government and private industry both in the U.S. and abroad. 

For more information about the Hopkins Sommer Scholars, visit

Public Affairs media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons or Kenna Lowe at 410-955-6878 or