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

Holly Fernandez Lynch, JD, MBE, SUMR '02

Holly Fernandez Lynch

Holly Fernandez Lynch, JD, MBE, SUMR '02

Fernandez Lynch with her mentee, 2018 SUMR Scholar Mohamed Abdirisak.
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As a junior from Albany, NY, majoring in Health and Societies at the University of Pennsylvania in 2002, Holly Fernandez Lynch was leaning toward a career path in bioethics at the same time she was hoping to avoid having to spend the summer as a lifeguard, retail clerk or camp counselor. In class, she heard about the two-year old SUMR program that was recruiting its third cohort of paid scholar/interns for 2002 and she applied because she was interested in minority issues.

"Minority research -- focused on both ethnic minorities and gender minorities -- was increasing in importance then and people in academia were talking about it more," said Lynch. "The SUMR program seemed to be a testament to the rising recognition of the white male nature of science and an effort to take active steps to address that."

Lynch’s two SUMR mentors were LDI Senior Fellow Pamela Sankar, PhD, an Associate Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, and LDI Senior Fellow Glenn McGee, PhD, an Annenberg School Professor of the Social Sciences and the Founder of the American Journal of Bioethics.

"For me," said Lynch, "the SUMR experience was more of an enhancement of the interests I already had. But it gave me a chance to focus my career and to actually observe how faculty members advance a scientific field forward by doing empirical research. We were doing interesting, scholarly work over those months and networking with mentors and other faculty in very useful ways. It definitely shaped my interest in doing that kind of work myself."

Lynch got her Penn BA and went on to earn a law degree from Penn Law School as well as a Master of Bioethics degree from the Perelman School of Medicine. She joined a Washington, D.C. law practice focused on U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) work, later joined the faculty at the Harvard School of Law and became Executive Director of its Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy. She also served on President Obama's Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues and was a member of the HHS Secretary's Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections.

In 2017, Lynch returned to Penn as an Assistant Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy in Perelman School of Medicine and an LDI Senior Fellow. She now works in the same department as her former SUMR mentor, Pamela Sankar.