Annual health disparities symposium draws participants from across region

Topically and geographically, this year’s student-led Sujal Symposium was bigger than ever.

This year's Sujal Symposium draw poster entries from U-M, Michigan State, Central Michigan, Wayne State, and more.

Named for a former UMMS student and organized by current students, the recent Sujal M. Parikh Symposium for Health & Social Justice drew more than 100 participants from across health science disciplines at U-M as well as other nearby universities. The Sept. 29 event attracted attendees from Central Michigan, Wayne State, Michigan State, Calvin College, and more to the UMMS campus for a conversation about health disparities local and global.

“I really appreciated the opportunity to come and see what students at other schools are doing,” said Wayne State medical student Inara Ismailova, whose poster on Emergency Room usage among pregnant women earned an award at the event. “It’s great for us to step out of our respective bubbles and see what’s going on elsewhere.”

This year’s Sujal Symposium focused on interdisciplinary approaches to health disparities, with a keynote from Dr. Timothy Brewer, Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary and Cross-Campus Affairs at UCLA, and panel presentations on U-M projects involving policy, environmental sustainability, and engineering solutions to health issues. A photo competition featured pictures taken in our own backyard and around the world, and a poster session included nearly 40 entries across many disciplines from both graduate and undergraduate students.

This marked the first year that organizing students intentionally promoted the event to peers to other schools.

“Our goal was to expand the conversation because health disparities are complex problems that demand inter-professional collaboration,” said UMMS M4 Lauren Merz, who helped lead year’s event. “We’re grateful to everyone who participated, whether they traveled across campus or across the state. I hope they learned something new about these issues and are inspired to reach out beyond their own school or discipline to find creative solutions.”

See more photos from this year's Sujal Symposium here.



The annual Sujal Symposium is named for Sujal Parikh, a UMMS medical student who passed away in an auto accident while doing HIV research in Uganda in 2010. Each year, student organizers work with UMMS faculty leaders and members of the Global REACH office to plan and facilitate the symposium in Sujal’s honor, typically a single-day event held in the fall.

Any UMMS student interested in helping to organize next year’s event should contact Global Health and Disparities Path Director Brent Williams, MD, MPH, for more information.