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Fellowships

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. or LL.M. candidates in Barbados, Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico and South Africa who are committed to pursuing a field—such as health economics, nutrition epidemiology, health behavior or law—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 the 2020 cohort of three Healthy Food Policy Fellows. To learn more about them click here.

The Healthy Food Policy Fellowship, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, supports outstanding Ph.D. or LL.M. candidates from Barbados, Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico and South Africa who are passionate about improving policy and research on healthy food in their countries. The goal of the fellowship is to help strengthen the countries’ health systems by creating a pool of people qualified to design, conduct, analyze and present research related to healthy food policy. 

The fellowship is awarded to applicants who are committed to pursuing a field that will allow them to contribute to healthier food environments through public policy. Disciplines may include health economics, nutrition epidemiology, marketing, health behavior or law. A successful applicant should be able to demonstrate how they will apply their experience, skills and knowledge in these subject areas to policy and research on healthy food in their country of origin or residence. A strong preference is given to those applicants who are committed to work in their country of origin or residence after they complete their program. Applicants who can establish their background or interest in contributing to research of national-level importance are encouraged to apply. Click here to meet this year’s Fellows.

Successful applicants are awarded a multiple-year fellowship for the duration of their Ph.D. or LL.M. 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 will only be disbursed to an applicant who has been formally accepted to a Ph.D. or LL.M. program and has satisfied all legal requirements.

In general, the fellowship covers tuition, accommodations and study-related travel, if appropriate. Each fellowship will depend on the needs of the recipient, country of residence/school, and will be bound by the funder’s financial parameters.

Successful applicants will have to 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.

The selection process for the fellowship is two phased.  As a first step, Vital Strategies conducts a pre-screening phase and invites nominators to nominate prospective candidates. The nominations can be submitted only by academics and established researchers with experience in healthy food policy research and/or research in health economics, nutrition epidemiology, marketing, health behavior or law.

The nomination committee is comprised of three representatives from the University of North Carolina International Development Research Center and Vital Strategies. Out of a pool of all nominees, the committee shortlists a few outstanding candidates who are passionate about working in one of the Obesity Prevention program’s focus countries to improve policy and research that will foster healthy food environment. On being shortlisted, these candidates are invited to submit a full application for the fellowship.

All final applications are reviewed, and a final decision is made by the fellowship’s selection committee that consists of five members who are experts in practice and research related to healthy food policies. The selection committee comprises representatives from Vital Strategies, University of Western Cape and The George Institute for Global Health. All applications are individually reviewed by each committee member, and then the shortlisted candidates are invited for an in-person virtual interview with all the members of the committee. After taking into consideration the full application and interview, the final unanimous decision is made by all the committee members. 

The nominations are currently closed but we anticipate that a second call for nominations will open later in 2020 or early 2021. Please refer to the below FAQs for more information on who can nominate and be nominated. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Am I eligible for this fellowship?

The Healthy Food Policy Fellowship program is not open for general application. Acceptance into the fellowship program is by nomination only by academics and established researchers with experience in healthy food policy research and/or research in health economics, nutrition epidemiology, marketing, health behavior or law. The nominator must:

  • have worked closely with the nominee or is well aware of the nominee’s academic and/or research work and professional goals;
  • be able to vouch for the nominee’s commitment to using their Ph.D. or LL.M. in one of the fellowship’s focus countries. 
  • be willing to serve as an informal advisor to the nominee throughout their Ph.D. or LL.M. studies to help the nominee remain connected to the research community and potential job opportunities in their home country. 

Can I be nominated for this fellowship?

Candidates must 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.)
  • Be considering, in the process of applying to, or already accepted to, a Ph.D. or LLM. program 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 or law, from a university that meets the desired combination of theoretical coursework and practical, field-based research.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to improving public policy around a healthier food environment in their home country.
  • Have a background in healthy food policy or experience in one of the aforementioned academic areas of interest.
  • Seek to apply their new skills and knowledge to research on policy and programming related to healthy food policy in in their country of origin or residence. 
  • Be a promising scholar who is able to establish their need for financial assistance to pursue a Ph.D. or LL.M. 

What level of financial support is available through this Fellowship?

The fellowship may cover tuition, accommodations and study-related travel, if appropriate. Each fellowship will depend on the needs of the recipient and the country of residence/school, and will be bound by the funder’s financial parameters.

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 be nominated 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. 

Disclaimers

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.