Medical advocacy groups

The groups listed below are run by Alpert Medical School students and focus on advocating for patients in the Providence area and around the world. They are funded by the Medical School Senate as well as the Patient Advocacy Coordinating Council.

If you would like to get in touch with any of these groups, please email for contact information.

Brown Agriculture, Nutrition, and Community Health

2013-2014 Leaders: Emma Anselin MD'16, David Lieberman MD'16

BrANCH (Brown Agriculture, Nutrition, and Community Health) was founded in the spring of 2010 by a group of medical students who believe that some of the most pressing health problems that this country faces are rooted in nutrition. Effectively combating the growing epidemics of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, means more than admonishing people in the clinic and telling them to lose weight. It means meeting people in their communities, teaching them hands-on ways to eat healthier, cook better, and be more invested in their own health and their own nutrition.

To that end, we founded BrANCH to help bring the fight against nutritionally-based diseases out of the clinic and into the Providence community. At Blackstone Academy Charter School in Pawtucket, BrANCH members teach weekly nutrition classes to a group of 20 high school students and work with these students to maintain a vegetable garden on the school's campus. We use this garden as an interactive way of teaching students about where their food comes from and the impact it can have on their health. We believe that effective and empowering nutrition education is the key to combating childhood obesity. We aim to give our students the tools to make healthy choices about their diets throughout the rest of their life.

Visit our website to learn more about BrANCH!

Cancer Awareness and Reflection Elective

2013-2014 Leaders: Anna Costello MD'16, Kimeya Ghaderi MD'16

CARE is an elective that provides a unique opportunity for medical students to learn about the bio-psychosocial model of cancer and patient advocacy in the preclinical years. The elective begins in the fall semester with an orientation on the bio-psychosocial model and patient advocacy, and several guest lecturers who will give talks and lead discussions on cancer biology and epidemiology, treatment modalities, radiation oncology, pediatrics, and spirituality and hope. There will also be a careers panel about oncology open to all medical students. The spring semester will continue the course with small group sessions on hospice and end of life care, alternative and complementary therapies, and advocacy and awareness. A lecture and patient panel on "Breaking Bad News" will also be opened to all medical students.

In addition to the didactic portion, each student will be matched with a member of the Providence community who is living with cancer and will meet individually with patients by attending support group meetings (with approval of group facilitator and members), scheduled appointments at the hospital, or meeting at other locations within the community. These meetings will begin in the fall and continue on into the spring, and will be complemented by reflection sessions where students will have a forum to discuss their experiences with their peers and course leaders. Students will also have the opportunity to shadow physicians within outpatient, inpatient, and hospice settings.

Disability Awareness Group

2013-2014 Leaders: Helen Johnson MD'15, Claire Williams MD'15

The Disability Awareness Group (DAG) focuses on promoting awareness of different disabilities. We explore the causes of disabilities as well as existing and future approaches to managing these disabilities. We also discuss how doctors should best interact with patients who have disabilities, as communication access is often a problem. To understand these issues well, we invite doctors and patients to share their perspectives and we provide community service opportunities with these population groups.

Gays, Lesbians and Allies Advancing Medicine

2013-2014 Leaders: Hannah Janeway MD'15, Zach Marcus MD'16, Liz Rubin MD'16, Liz Schindler MD'16

GLAAM (Gays, Lesbians and Allies Advancing Medicine) provides students at the Warren Alpert Medical School with opportunities to advocate for LGBTQ patients, find physician mentors, and foster a strong student community. Members of GLAAM offer free screening and counseling services at health fairs and other community events, and also organize educational talks at the medical school. Education within the group consists of sharing medical literature related to LGBTQ issues and lunchtime talks with health care providers who participate in advocacy and/or conduct research in areas of interest. GLAAM also helps organize medical and graduate student social events to keep the greater Brown LGBTQ community and its allies connected.

Healthcare for the Underserved

2013-2014 Leaders: Emma Anselin MD'16, Julius Ho MD'16, Rian Yalamanchili MD'16

This preclinical elective course involves monthly student-led seminars focused on medical care of vulnerable populations and clinical experience as a volunteer student provider at Brown Student Community Clinic, Rhode Island Free Clinic, Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic (CEHC) or CEHC Student Clinic. The course aims to provide students with the knowledge, skill and support needed for medical care of underserved populations and to enable them the opportunity to practice these new-found skills in a clinical setting that services that population. The intent of the course is to create future leaders in primary care and care of underserved populations.  Visit our website to learn more!


2011-2012 Leaders: Grayson Armstrong MD'14, Shreyus Kulkarni MD'14, Paul Shultz MD'14, Steven Straube MD'14

ImproveHealthCare seeks to bring together a community of medical students and professionals interested in health policy and improving quality, promoting policy education, expanding access, and lowering disparities in health care.

Institute for Healthcare Improvement

2013-2014 Leaders: Seungjun Kim MD'17, Zachary Rubin '15

The mission of the IHI Open School Rhode Island Chapter is to advance health care improvement and patient safety competencies in the next generation of health professionals in Rhode Island. The chapter provides health professions students at Brown University, the University of Rhode Island, and Rhode Island College opportunities to learn about quality improvement and patient safety in an interactive and interdisciplinary setting.

Physicians for Human Rights

2011-2012 Leaders: Colin Burke MD'14, Milan Satcher MD'14, Mansi Shah MD'14

We are Brown's chapter of the international organization Physicians for Human Rights. We host speaker events and service opportunities throughout the year to educate students about a broad range of topics related to human rights both domestically and internationally and to inspire students to engage in patient activism. Events in recent years include panels on health care for incarcerated populations, presentations on healthcare in the aftermath of natural disasters in Haiti and Pakistan, and service opportunities at local health fairs, to name a few. We are always looking for new ideas, and welcome input from students at any level!

Primary Care Progress

2011-2012 Leaders: Colin Burke MD'14, Christi Butler MD'14, Mae Shen MD'14

Brown Primary Care Progress is Brown's chapter of a national organization devoted to promoting primary care and transforming care delivery and training. Our goal is to bring students, residents, and faculty together to inspire innovation in primary care and to create a network of primary care-oriented community members. Our chapter is relatively new, and we are constantly seeking input from students, residents, and faculty at all levels on ways in which we might best serve the primary care community here at Brown.

Refugee Health Initiative

2012-2013 Leaders: Andre Anderson MD'15, Kate LaMancuso MD'14, Deborah Lee MD'15, Milan Satcher MD'14, Bianca Stifani MD'15

The Refugee Health Initiative works with refugee service agencies in Providence to increase primary care and community health knowledge in refugee communities. Recognizing that interpreters, many of whom are often refugees themselves, are key stakeholders in their communities, the Refugee Health Initiative supports the interpreters' development as community health workers. Medical students partner with an interpreter and work with him/her to coordinate and host community sessions on health topics communities themselves identify as relevant. This is an excellent group for anyone looking to gain experience in the Community Health Worker (CHW) model or to engage global health needs in America.