UIC alumnus wins Soros Fellowship for New Americans
University of Illinois Chicago alumnus Anis Barmada is among 30 scholars nationwide selected to receive the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, a merit-based fellowship that funds graduate or professional schools for immigrants and children of immigrants in the United States.
From a pool of over 1,800 applicants, Barmada and the other fellows were selected for their potential to make significant contributions to the U.S. Each individual receives up to $90,000 in funding over two years to support their graduate studies.
Barmada, who is currently an MD/PhD student in immunobiology at Yale University, fled the civil war in Damascus, Syria, at the age of 17 with his mother and two brothers.
After graduating from Wheeling High School in 2016, he came to UIC as part of the President’s Award Program STEM Initiative, which is a selective peer and faculty network for students in STEM disciplines to do research, develop professional connections and prepare for graduate education.
He was an Honors College member and earned bachelor’s degrees in biological sciences and chemistry from the UIC College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 2020. He went on to earn a master’s degree in genomic medicine at the University of Cambridge, while also conducting research at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, where he investigated altered immune responses in COVID-19 patients with pre-existing autoimmune conditions using single-cell multi-omics.
He plans to become a physician-scientist conducting translational experimental and computational research to address currently incurable diseases, as well as contributing to a new era of health care without disparities.
Kim Germain, director of the UIC Office of External Fellowships, advised Barmada on his Soros Fellowship bid, as well as previous applications for other prestigious honors he earned while at UIC. These included the Gates Cambridge Scholarship in 2020, which funded his master’s degree at Cambridge, and a Goldwater Scholarship in 2019. He was among the U.S. finalists for a 2020 Rhodes Scholarship.
“It has been such a pleasure to work with Anis since his sophomore year, and I am thrilled to see his talent recognized yet again,” Germain said.
As a UIC student, he received several scholarships and awards, in addition to research support via Honors College research grants, the Liberal Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Initiative and the chemistry department’s Herbert E. Paaren Summer Research Stipend.
Members of the 2022 Soros Fellows cohort are from more than 20 countries and represent a wide range of fields, including law, music, economics, architecture, business, physics, medicine, engineering and agricultural studies. They join a community of more than 715 past recipients.
Founded in 1998 by Hungarian immigrants Daisy M. Soros and her late husband Paul Soros, the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans program honors the contributions of continuing generations of immigrants in the U.S.
“Immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees are an essential part of the United States. The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows demonstrate the ingenuity and diverse perspectives that immigrants of all backgrounds bring to America’s graduate programs and to the country as a whole,” said Craig Harwood, director of the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans.