A new Morgan State University partnership is opening the door for students to secure Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) Fellowships in Vaccines Medical Development. Learn more in the release by MSU.

Pfizer Doctoral Fellowship is First-of-Its-Kind in Partnership with an HBCU, Inaugural Recipients Selected

As part of an effort to facilitate more diversity in medical development and expand perspectives on vaccine-related real-world data and analysis, Morgan State University has partnered with Pfizer, one of the world’s premier biopharmaceutical companies, to establish the new Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) Fellowship in Vaccines Medical Development. Offered in collaboration with the University’s School of Community Health and Policy (SCHP), the two-year immersive fellowship is a pilot predoctoral program that will provide fellows with a wide range of experiences, including invaluable training and networking opportunities, designed to prepare DrPH-credentialed professionals for future leadership roles in the biopharmaceutical industry. The collaboration with Morgan marks the first-of-its-kind for Pfizer with an Historically Black College and University (HBCU).

To officially kick-off the program, Pfizer worked in conjunction with SCHP to select the inaugural fellowship cohort from Morgan. Monica Ochapa and Nguhemen Tingir, two current DrPH candidates, will begin the program this August.

“We appreciate this tremendous opportunity to partner with Pfizer in putting the call for diversity, equity and inclusion into action, this is a milestone moment,” said Kim Dobson Sydnor, MPH, DrPH, dean of SCHP at Morgan. “The DrPH Fellowships in Vaccines Medical Development is a unique initiative between a leading, global biopharmaceutical company and a rising research university dedicated to ensuring that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. We look forward to seeing our students gaining access to the additional skills and acumen, traditionally afforded to so many others, and becoming successful within this industry.”

Kim Dobson Sydnor

The DrPH fellowship is rooted in aligning a comprehensive public health strategy and Pfizer leadership with next generation public health doctoral candidates. Morgan fellows, Ochapa and Tingir, will engage in a rigorous full-time course of study that comprises therapy area expertise development, scientific community engagement and technical skills practicum. In addition to the fellowship’s on-site and online trainings, upon completion of the two-year intensive, fellows will receive Certification in Medicines Development from the IFAPP Academy in partnership with King’s College London.

“The DrPH Vaccines in Medical Development Fellowship represents a true momentous occasion and milestone moment for Morgan’s School of Community Health and Policy as it marks the first relationship, to our knowledge, between Pfizer Pharmaceuticals and an HBCU,” said Kim Dobson Sydnor, MPH, DrPH, dean of SCHP at Morgan. “We are absolutely thrilled to partner with Pfizer in this capacity as we give action to diversity, equity, and inclusion in public health and the pharma industries.”

In teaming with Morgan for the fellowship program, Pfizer has uniquely positioned itself at the forefront of fostering diverse talent pipelines, creating dynamic work environments and launching rewarding successful careers within the pharmaceutical industry. The Fellowship in Vaccines Medical Development is designed with this purpose in mind. Tapping talent from the nation’s leading HBCUs, who are known to produce more than half of all African American professionals and 25% of African American graduates in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, was central in forming the alliance with Morgan and developing the fellowship.

Nguhemen Tingir
“It [the fellowship] is of tremendous importance that companies like Pfizer engage HBCUs and foster greater diversity among BIPOC talent because it provides the opportunity to level the playing field and create a more equitable society for the future.”  –Nguhemen Tingir

“This landmark partnership with Maryland’s preeminent public urban research university is the seminal public health fellowship within the Pfizer Biopharma organization,” said Ronika Alexander-Parrish, RN, MAEd clinical scientist at Pfizer, founding director of the Doctor of Public Health Fellowship in Vaccines Medical Development and graduate from Morgan’s SCHP DrPH program. “There are fewer than five HBCUs with DrPH programs in the United States. As such, we recognize and appreciate the unique value this fellowship brings to both Pfizer and Morgan.”

The fellowship leadership team consists of strong advocates for the fellows, including executive sponsors, program directors, and preceptors. The engagement and network opportunities with these key constituents within Pfizer’s network will be critical. Among the core competencies fellows will enhance through participation in the program include:

Monica Ochapa
“…[The fellowship] will provide me with a platform to advance solutions for health inequity, increase healthcare for underserved populations, and create innovative approaches to disease prevention through public health research and practice.” 
– Monica Ochapa
  • Partnering with key thought leaders, professional societies, and patient and disease advocacy groups to better understand and gain insights into areas of unmet medical need for patients
  • Understanding and interpreting clinical data, emerging scientific trends, and the competitive landscape, and align internal stakeholders on a balanced benefit-risk proposition
  • Performing in-depth research, analysis, and interpretation of the medical literature from both external and internal sources
  • Providing input regarding the development of medical publications and ensure the scientific accuracy of manuscripts
  • Supporting appropriate dissemination of clinical trial results and real-world evidence

Morgan first launched its Public Health Program in 1999, intent on fostering a new generation of public health professionals. It became the first HBCU to offer the DrPH degree, awarding its first four doctoral degrees in 2003. In 2005, the School of Community Health and Policy was established to expand the University’s health mission and academic programming to meet a growing need for a well-prepared, diverse, culturally responsive health professions workforce. Today, the school is comprised of four programs: the Public Health Graduate Program, the Nursing Graduate and Undergraduate Program, the Nutritional Sciences Undergraduate Program, and the Health EducationUndergraduate and Pre Professional Track programs with a collective focus on urban communities, elimination of health disparities, and a practice-based service-learning framework. The school awarded its 123rd DrPH degree and 240th MPH degree in May 2022.