UAlbany's School of Public Health Names Recipients of Axelrod Fellowships

Contact: Christine McKnight, 518-437-4987 or Lisa James Goldsberry, 518-437-4989

Albany, N.Y. - Sept. 28, 2001 -- For the first time, the David Axelrod Fellowship is funding two graduate students this year at the University at Albany's School of Public Health.

Winners of this year's prestigious Axelrod award are Michaela Gazdik, a 2001 graduate of Rutgers University who plans laboratory-based biomedical sciences study, and Folorunsho Edobor-Osula, a 2001 graduate of Johns Hopkins University who is studying for a master's in public health, concentrating on epidemiology.

The two began their studies earlier this month as the seventh and eighth winners of the Axelrod Fellowship, which is the most generous offered at the School of Public Health and is made possible by private contributions.

"We are delighted to welcome these two young women to the School of Public Health and to the distinguished roster of Axelrod Fellows," said Dean Peter J. Levin. "The Axelrod Fellowships help us attract outstanding students as we seek to develop well-trained public health scholars and activists - professionals who will make a difference in the years to come."

The School of Public Health is a unique institution offering graduate students the academic strength of a major research university and real-life exposure to public health practice at the state Health Department and local health agencies. Many professors also hold key positions at the Health Department and are engaged in a variety of public health problems, including E.coli outbreaks, the West Nile Virus and toxic waste emergencies, as well as chronic problems such as teen pregnancy, smoking, AIDS, cancer and health-care quality improvement.

The Axelrod Fellowship is named for the late state health commissioner who served in that post from 1979 to 1991, and who was nationally known for his leadership on a variety of public health issues and innovations. They ranged from campaigns against smoking to health care for the uninsured and research-based efforts to improve the quality of medical care.

Gazdik, from Westport, Mass., is planning a career in laboratory-based medical research. Her primary interest lies in investigating infectious disease, particularly antibiotic resistant infections, and other infectious agents primarily affecting developing countries. She will work toward a master's degree in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, based at the state Health Department's world-renowned Wadsworth Center laboratories.

Edobor-Osula, originally from Richmond Hill, Queens, plans to become a physician focusing on clinical research. But first she wants to study public health and epidemiology. She excelled in graduate-level public health courses during her undergraduate career at Johns Hopkins University, and also amassed an impressive volunteer record, working with inner-city children in Baltimore. She was also a member of the women's varsity basketball team at Johns Hopkins.

The Axelrod award consists of a $12,000 stipend and full tuition scholarship for the first year of what is normally a two-year study program. Second year public health students working on master's degrees are commonly funded through internships or other means.

The Axelrod Fellowship was established in 1995, with funds raised to honor the former commissioner's record of service and public health innovation. Dr. Axelrod, a native of Great Barrington, Mass., graduated from Harvard Medical College and was a virology researcher at the National Institutes of Health before coming to Albany to establish a new laboratory division in the Health Department.

The School of Public Health was founded in 1985 through the efforts of then-University President Vincent O'Leary and Dr. Axelrod to take advantage of the proximity of one of the nation's top research universities and its premier state health department. The School of Public Health is located in the Edward S. and Frances Gildea George Education Center on UAlbany's East Campus.

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Sept. 28, 2001


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