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Vivek Shah 2017-18

Vivek Shah is humbled to be one of the recipients of the Michael B. Keegan Traveling Fellowship.

Vivek graduated from Vanderbilt with a double major in Biomedical and Chemical Engineering and minors in math and chemistry. Throughout his time at Vanderbilt, Vivek also worked in engineering labs focused on nanoparticle formulation for drug delivery and breast cancer treatment using ultrasound. In addition, Vivek served as Head Resident Adviser in Warren and Moore College Halls, Co-Chair of the Vanderbilt University Speakers Committee, and as a Vanderbilt University Tour Guide. However, his fondest Vanderbilt memories were playing Ultimate Frisbee as a part of the Men’s Club team.

Vivek’s project, titled Reengineering Access: Translational Challenges and Cultural Considerations of Western Medical Technology, stems from his divergent experiences growing up as well as his academic experiences. As an Indian-American, Vivek has been deeply aware that different cultures interface with Western medicine and medical technology in different ways. While growing up, colds in Vivek’s family were treated not with Tylenol, but rather with mixtures of turmeric, honey, and ginger. Such alternatives to Western medicine instilled faith in alternative medicine, a faith very much alive despite his breadth of experiences as a biomedical engineering student.

In this spirit, Vivek will visit fourteen countries across five continents to gain perspective on two critical challenges that hinder development of engineering solutions to global health problems. He will focus on the technical challenges and limitations that affect how medical technology is implemented, particularly in low resource settings, as well as the influences of culture on how people interface with medical technology. Vivek will work in conjunction with his advisor, Dr. Patricia Russ, professor of biomedical engineering throughout his project.

Upon returning, Vivek plans to work in industry, but also may pursue a graduate degree. Regardless of where he finds himself, he plans to draw from his experiences during the Keegan Fellowship to maintain a global problem-solving orientation as well as ensure that engineering challenges are framed with an acute awareness of the settings and people that will interact most intimately with design solutions.

Vivek is humbled by the support and assistance of Michael Keegan, the Keegan Fellowship alumni, Dr. Jim Lovensheimer, his family, and all those that have helped made this journey possible.

Images, videos, reflections, insights, and streams of consciousness can be found on Vivek’s blog,