Two Stanford graduates named 2013 U.S. Gates Cambridge Scholars

Alumni Jerry Lee, '09, and Rachel Silverman,'09, are two of 39 Americans recently selected as 2013 Gates Cambridge Scholars.

Two Stanford alumni – Jerry Lee and Rachel Silverman – will head to the University of Cambridge in England this fall as 2013 Gates Cambridge Scholars.

They are among the 39 Americans – from three-dozen U.S. universities – who were awarded Gates Cambridge Scholarships, which enable students from outside the United Kingdom to pursue graduate studies in any subject at the University of Cambridge. The scholarships cover the full cost of studying at Cambridge.

Professor Robert Lethbridge, provost of the Gates Cambridge Trust, said the 2013 Gates Cambridge Scholars come from a range of diverse backgrounds.

"They fully meet the criteria of the scholarship in being both intellectually outstanding and having a capacity for leadership and a commitment to improving the lives of others," Lethbridge said in a prepared statement. "They should be proud of this achievement, and we can expect much of them."

The international round of the Gates Cambridge Scholarship will be announced later this year.

The scholarships were established in 2000 with a $210 million donation to the University of Cambridge from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Jerry Lee

Courtesy of Jerry LeeJerry Lee portrait

Lee, 26, of San Diego, earned a coterminal bachelor's degree in human biology and a master's in biology at Stanford in 2009.

As an undergraduate, Lee spent several semesters conducting clinical research abroad. In 2006, he traveled to Honduras to work on public health interventions. In 2008, he went to Lesotho to research pediatric HIV with funding from a Stanford Undergraduate Advising and Research Major Grant, which supports

 in-depth projects that normally include a full-time summer commitment.

Lee also conducted basic science research at the Hopkins Marine Station, studying under Professor Anthony De Tomaso, and completed an honors thesis on the role of Hox genes in regeneration.

After graduating from Stanford, Lee taught advanced placement biology at Live Oak Academy in San Jose.

Lee also worked as a life science research assistant in the laboratory of Dr. John Cooke, professor and associate director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute. Lee said the research had led to basic insights into stem cells, therapeutics to treat vascular disease and new imaging modalities for use in translational science. The work culminated in several publications in high-impact journals, including a 2012 article he co-authored in Nature Medicine.

"At Cambridge, I hope to deepen my understanding of translational research as it applies to cardiovascular and regenerative medicine," Lee wrote in a profile published on the Gates Cambridge website.

"The master of philosophy in epidemiology would allow me to translate the insight gained from population trends to knowledge that would inform basic research, and equip me with an understanding of how basic research can be better applied to improve population health. In the future, I hope to become a physician-scientist, eventually developing and standardizing the treatment of cardiovascular disease with stem cell therapies."

Rachel Silverman

Kaveh SardariRachel Silverman portrait

Silverman, 25, of Washington, D.C., earned a bachelor's degree in international relations and economics at Stanford in 2009, where her coursework focused on economic and political development.

She was first introduced to development research in the summer before her senior year, when she served as a research assistant at Stanford's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.

Since graduating, Silverman has spent four years working in international development research and practice. Currently, she works with the global health policy team at the Center for Global Development, where her research focuses on value for money innovations within global health funding agencies, and on supporting evidence-based resource allocation for infectious disease and reproductive and child health programs.

Before joining the Center for Global Development in 2011, Silverman spent two years with the National Democratic Institute, where she worked on democratic development initiatives in Kosovo, and a program to increase political participation and civic engagement among Europe’s Roma minority.

In a profile published on the Gates Cambridge website, Silverman said she was eager to pursue a master of philosophy in public health at the University of Cambridge so she could gain valuable scientific and technical public health skills to complement her existing background.

"Driven by the belief that we have an ethical obligation to save as many lives as possible with the resources at our disposal, my interests lie at the intersection of global health and economics, particularly with regard to efficient and equitable resource allocation (priority-setting) and incentive structures to maximize 'value for money' in health policy," Silverman wrote.

"It is my hope that my studies at Cambridge will enable me to be a stronger advocate for evidence-based public health decision-making."