Isaiah Levy knows he wants to build prosthetics for people who have lost limbs from landmines and improvised explosive devices. He's just not sure how he'll be able to do it.
He was inspired as an undergraduate at the U.S. Military Academy, where a mentor and fellow member of the cycling team had a prosthetic limb that replaced the one he lost in Iraq. Levy decided he wanted to pursue global health. He studied engineering at Johns Hopkins and then was admitted to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
"My whole dream is to be someone on the ground in a war-torn region, or any region with little resources, and to be able to help implement some engineering intervention that I could be designing and distributing," he said.
It's not something Levy is likely to learn in the medical-school classroom. And so in an effort to support students like Levy, Mount Sinai has partnered with GLG, a company that connects professionals with a network of about 425,000 experts around the world for one-on-one learning experiences.
Too often, medical education has been an exercise in box-checking, with students asked to put aside their passions as they train to become a doctor. The new program instead aims to nurture those interests, said Dr. Prabhjot Singh, director of Mount Sinai's Arnhold Institute for Global Health, which is leading the program.
"In a traditional setting, [Levy] would be asked to pursue his passion but do so independently, with maybe a little bit of faculty support," he said. "The difference here is we're saying no, that's actually something we should be spending institutional resources on."
GLG works as a business-to-business solution, charging subscription fees that can run more than $100,000 a year for access to its network. It has often provided expertise at the intersection of science and business to corporate clients and physician-scientists, but this is its first venture working with students, said Alexander Saint-Amand, the company's president and chief executive.
"We've achieved a certain scale, and that's all come from one-on-one learning," he said.
Singh declined to disclose how much Mount Sinai is paying to participate in the program, but said it was "in the form of a commitment that makes it easy for me to say we should do this."
Levy is one of seven Mount Sinai-GLG Global Health Scholars announced Wednesday who will work with a Mount Sinai faculty member and GLG's network of policy specialists, academics and engineers to work on a global health project throughout their time in medical school. The others selected for the program are Nikita Gupta, Syed Haider, Lillian Jin, Samuel Kebede, Taylor Miller and Mimi Smith.
All are first-year medical students tackling problems that range from treating traumatic brain injury to addressing the social determinants of health. Each has a litany of questions about ways to achieve those goals.
For Levy, those questions include how to create products on a large scale at a low cost, how to work with manufacturers and how to navigate foreign countries' legal, political and economic climates.
"The sheer amount of personnel this program could put me in touch with to answer the questions I already have, and the ones I don't even know I have yet, is something that really excited me," he said.