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Yerby Postdoctoral Fellowship Program

Program Description

The Yerby Postdoctoral Fellowship Program draws on the rich research environment and intellectual resources of one of the world’s premier public health training institutions, The Harvard School of Public Health.

This fellowship is named for Dr. Alonzo Smythe Yerby, an African-American pioneer in public health. Born in Chicago, Dr. Yerby was the youngest of four children. After finishing high school, he went to the University of Chicago and then to Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, one of only two black U.S. medical colleges in existence at the time. He graduated in 1946, and the following year enrolled at the Harvard School of Public Health. As a student, Dr. Yerby was a student of Franz Goldman, Associate Professor of Medical Care in the Department of Public Health Practice. At Dr. Goldman’s suggestion, Dr. Yerby went to Germany, first as a field medical officer for the U.N.’s International Refugee Organization, where he supervised the medical services for displaced persons in refugee camps, followed by service as deputy chief of medical affairs of the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees.  In 1966, Dr. Yerby left public service to return to the School of Public Health as professor and head of the Department of Health Services Administration (forerunner to the Department of Health Policy and Management), a position he held for the next 16 years. Dr. Yerby–a man whose professional formality masked a warm sincerity beneath–was the only black tenured faculty member at the School, a distinction noted by minority students at the School and throughout Harvard University, who sought him out as a role model and adviser on career issues. He believed that public health was not just the purview of public health professionals, but belonged to every physician.

This initiative is geared toward expanding the diversity of those entering academic public health. The program creates a bridge between academic training in health-related disciplines and entry-level faculty positions at institutions throughout the United States. The goal of the program is to advance the intellectual and professional development of each Yerby fellow. Under the guidance of a senior HSPH faculty member with compatible interests, fellows develop their research agendas, gain experience in publishing papers in peer-reviewed journals and obtaining grant support, participate in a variety of professional development workshops, and increase their teaching expertise.

Yerby fellows receive a competitive salary with benefits for one year, renewable for a second year. Up to five new fellowships are awarded annually.  The fellowship begins on September 1 of each year.

Areas of Training

Fellowship training is available throughout the broad range of the school’s activities— laboratory sciences, population sciences, and social and policy sciences. Fellows have a home within one of the school’s nine academic departments.

Eligibility and Application Information

The Yerby Postdoctoral Fellowship Program seeks highly qualified candidates with established research interests and a doctoral degree in public health-related fields.  Of special interest are applicants who will contribute to academic diversity– e.g. those from groups historically underrepresented in U.S. health-related sciences (defined by the National Institutes of Health as American Indians or Alaska Natives, Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, and Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders) and others whose background will contribute to academic diversity, including individuals with disabilities.  For more information, please see How to Apply.

Program Contact

Christina Burkot, Academic Appointments Specialist
Email: yerby@hsph.harvard.edu