The 2021 Leadership Award and Building a Better Community Through Service Award Presented to Yasemin Cole and Kritika Singh

Beginning in 2020, The International Biomedical Research Alliance introduced two recognition awards to honor Scholars in the NIH Oxford-Cambridge/Wellcome Trust Scholars Program who demonstrate exceptional community service and leadership. These awardees were nominated by their peers to be recognized for their exceptional leadership and service, not only to the Scholars Program but also to the greater community.  It is always an honor to be recognized, but especially notable when the recognition comes from peers who have a unique and focused view of the awardees and their efforts. The ceremony to honor the winners was held during the 2021 NIH Global Doctoral Partnerships Research Workshop, titled Celebrating Science: Looking Back and Looking Forward, virtually from July 13-15, 2021.

The recipient of the International Biomedical Alliance Leadership Award is a role model for their peers and possesses the ability to inspire others to be better and do better by encouraging creativity, cooperation, promoting respect for others, emphasizing collaboration, demonstrating initiative, and adapting to new and changing needs and circumstances. The outstanding Leader has a keen sense of organization and embodies leadership in all that they endeavor, combining clarity in thought with humility in character. The recipient of this award is Yasemin Cole. Yasemin is an NIH Gates Cambridge M.D./Ph.D. Scholar in the Class of 2021, whose mentors are Dr. Zhengping Zhuang at the National Cancer Institute and Dr. Eamonn Maher at the University of Cambridge. 

Yasemin has been involved in multiple leadership positions in the midst of a pandemic, which brought many challenges to the transition to graduate school. Concurrently, she worked closely with NIH OxCam Program Leadership and fellow NIH OxCam Scholar Neha Wali to help implement an F30 grant writing Bootcamp workshop and has worked tirelessly as the Chair of the Workshop Planning Committee to organize the Workshop. Yasemin constantly encourages creativity and collaboration as Chair of the Workshop Planning Committee and demonstrates exceptional organizational skills as she juggles multiple moving parts to ensure things run smoothly. She is a role model for her peers and someone admired by her classmates for her many strengths.

“By focusing on hereditary paraganglioma pheochromocytomas cancer syndromes, I study the intersection of cancer genetics, embryology, and metabolism. Over the past year, I led the organization of the 2021 Global Doctoral Partnerships Program Workshop which was successfully attended by over 200 NIH OxCam Scholars, Alumni, Principal Investigators, and distinguished guests. It’s been an honor to be recognized for my effort to bring together the OxCam community during these difficult times,” stated Yasemin. After Yasemin completes her Ph.D., she will continue her medical studies at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. 

The recipient of the Building a Better Community Through Service Award honors an individual who continuously places significant importance on the well-being of their community. Committed to social responsibility, they invest their time and talent to elevate and inspire others and, in doing so, uplift the community as a whole. The recipient of this award is Kritika Singh. Kritika is an NIH-Rhodes DPhil Scholar in the Class of 2020, whose mentors are Dr. John Schiller at the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Eleanor Stride, and Dr. Udo Oppermann at the University of Oxford, and Dr. Ralph Mazitschek at Harvard University. 

As a first-year student, Kritika has navigated the transition to NIH OxCam amid a pandemic with grace and has established a strong camaraderie not only with classmates in her year but with upper-year NIH OxCam Scholars as well. As the class of 2020 Representative, and even before she was officially a member of the Student Leadership Board in that capacity, Kritika constantly took the initiative to create virtual social events for the Class of 2020 and has always been open and willing to facilitate events that bring the community closer together. She also serves in multiple roles within NIH OxCam and outside of the Program. As a result, Kritika clearly demonstrates her passion to serve the greater community and promote well-being in many different roles, as she is always willing to lend an ear for students to talk to about whatever is going well or isn’t going well in their lives. Her thoughtfulness, work ethic, and genuine personality make her deserving of the Building a Better Community Through Service Award. 

“I am conducting my DPhil at the intersection of bioengineering, chemical biology, and immuno-oncology and am focusing on developing therapies that can be widely adopted in high- and low-resource settings. Apart from research, I am actively involved in community building activities such as being the 2020 Representative to the Student Leadership Board, the Co-Chair for the Career Development Seminar Series, the Student Rep on the Lasker Lessons in Leadership Committee, and on the Workshop Planning Committee. I am also the Board Director of Operations for the Rhodes Trust and Gates Cambridge Trust Global Scholars Symposium and was previously the Welfare Officer for Magdalen College at the University of Oxford. After my DPhil, I plan to go to medical school and pursue a career at the intersection of biomedical research, clinical practice, and global health policy,” shared Kritika. 

“Yasemin and Kritika are exemplary Scholars whose outstanding leadership and service have helped improve the OxCam student experience and NIH community overall,” remarked Kristi Porter, Ph.D., Managing Director and Director of Recruitment, NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program.  “I am continually amazed by their extraordinary talent and dedication and commend them for their remarkable contributions.”