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Fellowships

Vital Strategies Healthy Food Policy Fellowship

Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies’ Healthy Food Policy Fellowship aims to combat an important barrier to addressing global obesity—a dearth of research expertise to guide national policies. The fellowship, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, supports Ph.D. candidates in Barbados, Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico and South Africa who are committed to pursuing a field—such as health economics, nutrition epidemiology or health behavior—that will allow them to contribute to healthier food environments in their country of origin or residence through public policy.

Vital Strategies and Bloomberg Philanthropies are proud to announce that the application for our Healthy Food Policy Fellows’ second cohort will be opening in the first week of November.  


Vital Strategies’ Healthy Food Policy Fellowship has been established to combat an important barrier to addressing global obesity—a dearth of research expertise to guide national policies. 

The Fellowship, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, supports outstanding Ph.D. candidates—who are residents of Barbados, Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico and South Africa—who are committed to pursuing a field study and research that will enable them to contribute to healthier food environments through the use of public policy. 

Strong preference is given to candidates who are committed to work in their country after they complete their program, and who demonstrate that they will apply their experience, skills and knowledge in disciplines, such as, health economics, nutrition epidemiology, marketing, or health behavior. Applicants who can establish their background or interest in contributing to research of national-level importance are encouraged to apply. 

Overall, the goal of the Healthy Food Policy Fellowship is to help strengthen the focus countries’ health systems by developing research expertise—creating a pool of people who are qualified to design, conduct, analyze, present and promote research—to bridge the existing  research gaps and guide national policies for healthier food environment in Barbados, Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico and South Africa  

Successful applicants are awarded a multiple-year Fellowship for the duration of their Ph.D. (up to five years) program to support their studies at top universities in their home country or abroad. Some recipients may combine study in their home country with complementary coursework overseas. The award is only be disbursed to an applicant who has been enrolled in a Ph.D. program and has satisfied all legal requirements. 

In general, the Fellowship covers tuition, accommodation, health-insurance and study-related travel, if appropriate. Each Fellowship is dependent on the needs of the recipient, country of residence/school, and is bound by the funder’s financial parameters.

Selected Fellows must confirm that, in the two years prior to applying, they have had no affiliations with the sugary drinks, ultra-processed food or tobacco industries. In addition, they will need to attest that they have no intention of being affiliated with sugary drinks, ultra-processed food or tobacco industries for a period of five years after completing their studies under this Fellowship.

Application Requirements

Interested candidates must submit the following documents:

  1. Filled application form with an electronic signature
  2. Curriculum Vitae.
  3. Two letters of recommendation (in English) from people who are very familiar with the candidate’s work and professional experience, and/or who might be their potential mentor. The two referees must submit the letter of recommendation directly to Vital Strategies via email to fellowships@vitalstrategies.org before the deadline

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Am I eligible for this fellowship?

The Healthy Food Policy Fellowship program is open for candidates who meet the following selection criteria:

  • Reside in one of the focus countries: Barbados, Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico, South Africa. (“Reside” includes people who are non-citizens of a country and who have long-term residency in that country.)
  • Demonstrate a commitment to improving public policy around a healthier food environment in their home country.
  • In the process of applying, or already accepted, to a Ph.D. for the upcoming semester in a field that will allow them to contribute to healthier food environments through the use of public policy; such as, health economics, nutrition epidemiology, marketing, health behavior, etc., from a university that meets the desired combination of theoretical coursework and practical, field-based research.
  • Have a background in healthy food policy or experience in one of the aforementioned academic areas of interest.
  • Have no conflict of interest, no affiliation with sugary drinks, ultra-processed foods or tobacco industry.

What level of financial support is available through this Fellowship? The fellowship will cover tuition, living expenses (only rent, local public transport travel, and utilities), health insurance (in most cases it should be the plan recommended by school; limited only to the Fellow, and not dependents), travel and one-time costs like laptop, software and books.

Will fellowship recipients be expected to conduct research? Vital Strategies is seeking applicants who are passionate about sharpening their ability to design research studies, lead research projects, and analyze and present results. Applicants who can demonstrate that they will be pursuing studies that include a combination of classroom theory and field-based research will be favorably considered. 

Once I complete my studies, how could I use my research skills? National, subnational or local public health systems, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, universities, and other entities are in need of highly qualified people to help them develop policies and programs related to healthy food, obesity prevention and nutrition. 

Can I apply if I am not from one of the focus countries? At this time, only applicants from or residing in Barbados, Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico or South Africa will be considered.

Whom can I contact if I have questions about my application? Send email to: fellowships@vitalstrategies.org. 

Fellowship Program Disclaimer

Sugary Drinks and Ultra-Processed Foods Affiliation: Fellowship applicants and nominators confirm that they do not have an affiliation with the sugary drinks or ultra-processed food industry, its agents or associates, and have not had such an affiliation in the two years prior to their application; and that they currently do not accept and shall not accept financial or other support from any sugary drinks or ultra-processed food product manufacturer or the parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of a sugary drinks or ultra-processed food product manufacturer until at least five years after the completion of education. Failure to comply with this clause will constitute grounds for terminating the fellowship and require the return of any funds awarded under the fellowship.

Tobacco Affiliation: Fellowship applicants and nominators confirm that they have not had any business relationship with or knowingly received payment or other support from any tobacco product manufacturer or wholesaler, or from any e-cigarette or vaping manufacturer or wholesaler ( “These Industries”), or any parent, affiliate, subsidiary, organization, or foundation with majority support from These Industries, or any person, interest group, advocacy organization, or other business or organization (other than a law firm, advertising agency, or accounting firm) that represents the interests of the Tobacco Industry (collectively, “These Affiliates”) in the past two years prior to their application. Fellowship applicants and nominators currently do not accept and shall not accept financial or other support from These Industries or These Affiliates until at least five years after the completion of education. Failure to comply with this clause will constitute grounds for terminating the fellowship and require the return of any funds awarded under the fellowship.

Non-Discrimination: Vital Strategies does not discriminate on the basis of race, age, religion/creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military or veteran status, sex/gender, gender identity, nonconformity, presentation or expression (including cisgender, transgender, non-binary or intersex status), sexual or reproductive health decisions, pregnancy (including childbirth and related medical conditions), domestic partnership status, caregiver status, alienage or citizen status, disability, genetic information, familial status, marital status, or domestic violence victim status, arrest or conviction record, credit history, salary history, unemployment status, or any other basis protected by federal, state, or local laws. This nondiscrimination policy encompasses the operation of all its programs and activities, including this fellowship. 

Conflict of Interest: In the event that a potential conflict of interest arises during the fellowship process, Vital Strategies commits to deal with each conflict of interest in as open and appropriate a way as possible.