CBS Student Experiences Public Health Policy in Israel

CBS graduate student Rachel Gur-Arie is coming up on her sixth month of being a Fulbright research scholar at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer Sheva, Israel, with Dr. Nadav Davidovitch. Gur-Arie received the fellowship in spring 2015, when she graduated from CBS and Barrett, the Honors College with a degree in Biology and Society and a certificate in the History and Philosophy of Science.

Gur-Arie’s suggested research proposal built upon her honors thesis, focused on influenza vaccination, which she completed under the mentorship of Dr. Jane Maineschein, Dr. Manfred Laubichler, and Dr. Richard Creath. Utilizing survey data she collected during CBS’s Global Classroom initiative, her honors thesis suggests that university student actions are not consistent with their knowledge of influenza vaccination prevention and treatment. She proposed to conduct comparative research while in Israel, studying Israeli physician perception and action regarding influenza vaccination.

While her proposed research will begin within the next month, Gur-Arie has immersed herself in public health policy and ethics work in Israel. She is working on two main projects, one focused on the place of trans-disciplinary rhetoric in medical school education and the other on getting a second opinion within the Israeli healthcare system. Her work is rooted in clinical data, as Ben-Gurion University is connected to Soroka Hospital, the largest hospital in the Negev Desert in Israel. Soroka sees perhaps some of the most diverse populations in Israel, catering not only to the main metropolitan areas of the south, but also minority populations, such as Bedouins, and the Gaza Strip.

When she is not working on her own projects, Gur-Arie is involved in the science and technology studies community more broadly within Israel. Her home university has hosted numerous international conferences, including a workshop in partnership with UCLA on public-private relationships in healthcare. Gur-Arie received a private tour of Hadassah Hospital at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and also is active in the Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics at Tel Aviv University.

While the research opportunities are surpassing all of her expectations, Gur-Arie is dedicated to serving as a cultural ambassador to Israel – a main requirement of the Fulbright program. She is dedicated to becoming fluent in Hebrew, and is currently in the midst of her second six-week intensive Hebrew learning course, called Ulpan. When she arrived to Israel, Gur-Arie was vaguely familiar with the Hebrew alphabet. Today, she is conversational.

Gur-Arie also joined Model United Nations at Ben-Gurion University. She represented the United Kingdom in the FAO during her first conference, where she was the only delegate to pass a resolution regarding world huger. Recently, she represented Israel within UNESCO at a conference at Haifa University regarding mitigating the presence of ISIS within World Heritage Sites.

Outside of her studies and academic pursuits, Gur-Arie enjoys hiking with friends from her university and the Fulbright program, exploring Tel Aviv, eating everything her eyes see and nose smells, and visiting her seemingly endless family within Israel. She feels extremely fortunate to have this opportunity, and is not taking one moment for granted.

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Andrea Cottrell (