Celebrating 20 Years of Inspiring the Next Generation of Health Services Researchers

Celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2019, The LDI Summer Undergraduate Minority Research (SUMR) Program has been a success story of success stories. An incredible number of people both on and off the University of Pennsylvania campus have contributed extraordinary amounts of time, energy and resources to enrich the lives and broaden the career visions for SUMR's twenty cohorts of young scholars. The 36 individuals spotlighted below are representative of an even larger groups of both those who have made SUMR's operation possible year after year, as well as those students whose lives have been changed by the program.

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One of the first seven scholars to enter the SUMR program, Lorraine Dean says it changed her life. She is now an Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University. 

Seven years after he went through the SUMR program in 2011, Elorm Avakame simultaneously earned MD and MPP degrees from Harvard and gave a moving graduation speech.

Naomi Adaniya

Using health service research principles to root out medical fraud, Naomi Adaniya now leads the Analytics Team of the DOJ Health Care Faud Unit.

Ahmet Whitt, PhD

"SUMR 2007 changed my life by enabling me to see HSR as a career path," says Ahmet Whitt, PhD, now an Assistant Professor at the the University of Texas.

Mark Pauly, PhD

Inspired by a GE Foundation diversity pipeline program for minority students at the Wharton School in 1998, Mark Pauly played a pivotal role in the creation of SUMR.

The founding director of the SUMR program, Joanne Levy, MBA, has for 20 years run the three-month summer program involving dozens of undergrads and faculty members.

Eve Higginbotham

"SUMR is one of Penn's most successful pipeline programs," says Vice Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Eve Higginbotham, a strong and constant supporter of the program.

Risa Lavizzo Mourey

Before she became the CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Risa Lavizzo Mourey  was a Penn faculty member who helped launch and mentor  the SUMR program.

Holly Fernandez Lynch

A SUMR Scholar in 2002, Holly Fernandez Lynch went on to become a Harvard faculty member before returning to Penn in 2017.

GJ Melendez Torres

Melendez-Torres, Professor at the University of Exeter in England, received both a Truman and Marshall Scholarship.

Tania Calle

In 2019, 2018 SUMR Scholar and Williams College senior Tania Calle became the second SUMR Scholar to win a prestigious Truman Scholarship. 

Safa Browne

Hired to be SUMR Coordinator six years ago, Safa Brown became so inspired by the program she went back to school to get her MPH.

"Before SUMR, I wasn't aware that this kind of career was a possibility for me," says Victoria Perez, now an Assistant Professor at Indiana University Bloomington.

Darryl Powell, Jr.

Darryl Powell, Jr., MD, was perhaps SUMR's most tragic story. A soaring success at Harvard, he died suddenly as he was preparing to return to Philadelphia to join CHOP.

Amina Massey

A PhD candidate who will receive her degree next year, former SUMR Scholar Amina Massey explains why the Penn program was such a life-altering experience.

Sascha Murillo

After graduating Penn, Sascha Murillo spent several years in national health advocacy organizations before entered the Yale School of Medicine; she receives her MD next year.