Lauren Wedekind, WLGH 2018 Mentee

Lauren is committed to understanding and preventing cardiometabolic conditions. Since completing her MSc in Public Health at LSHTM, she has undertaken doctoral training through the NIH-Oxford Fellowship between the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) and Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics. She is trained to: quantify the joint effects of genetic and lifestyle factors upon disease risk (especially type 2 diabetes and diabetes during pregnancy); expand understandings of differences in clinical presentation of and disparities in risk of complex traits; and promote population-level health interventions to address these risks and disparities. Ultimately, Lauren wants to understand health inequities, promote cardiometabolic disease prevention and train diverse next generation of researchers and providers.

You can find Lauren on Twitter at @wedekindle

Why have you decided to sign up as a mentee?

Mentors who come from familiar backgrounds and serve in ways we admire can be forces for justice. As a young woman beginning her PhD this year, I hope to learn how to lead a fulfilling and helpful career at the intersection of genetics and medicine. In the long run, I will work to understand and prevent diabetes, both within and outside more thoroughly-investigated Northern and Western European populations. Along the way, by being a mentee at the WLGH Conference, I can learn to be a supportive mentor and clear communicator for my future students.

What do you think the program can offer mentees?

The WLGH mentorship program offers a great opportunity for young people like myself to create and build on connections we will make at the conference, and discuss in depth the benefits and challenges we face in our personal and professional. I am really looking forward to continuing the conversations I had as a student at LSHTM on how to use the privilege of our training and mentorship networks to promote global health. All of my fellow mentees and I could do this in a range of ways, including promoting health education, social care, discussions on research ethics, and disease treatment and prevention.

Who has been your role model in global health and why?

A former classmate and friend Akua Kusi has been a source of inspiration throughout the past two years as the creator of a platform for uplifting voices and promoting the health of women of colour. In the basement of LSHTM's Tavistock building, we met working on our MSc summer projects - she was transcribing interviews on the Ghanian Health Service and how women were being taught about breast cancer. She also started the LSHTM Women’s Health Group, bringing together students of all backgrounds to discuss global women’s health topics from health inequalities to broader social issues like gender and socioeconomics. Akua still supports the Group and  leadership team from Berlin, where she is a physician and a researcher.

What career advice would you give to yourself five years ago?

Looking forward to my coming years of doctoral training, a long-time mentor of mine, Rabbi Patricia, reminded me that our world needs “researchers with heart.” David W. Orr, an environmentalist, shares this convicting and motivating insight that applies however we train and serve: “There is a myth that the purpose of education is to give one the means for upward mobility and success. The plain truth is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does need desperately more peacemakers, healers, restorers, story tellers, and lovers of every shape and form.”


Learn more about the mentorship programme here.