Ishaan Desai is pursuing an MD at Harvard Medical School. Ishaan most recently served as research assistant and teaching fellow to the late physician and medical anthropologist Paul Farmer, who co-founded the international nonprofit Partners In Health. Ishaan completed his bachelor’s degree in 2015 at Harvard College, where he was active in infectious disease research, community health initiatives in Boston, global health education, and student activism for health justice.
As an undergraduate, he worked with Dr. Farmer and Partners In Health to help launch the inaugural degree program of the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE), a new university in rural Rwanda that seeks to train the next generation of global health professionals. Shortly after his time in Rwanda, Ishaan joined Partners In Health and Harvard Medical School to work as Dr. Farmer’s research assistant and to support his teaching and advocacy. Recent projects include interdisciplinary research for Dr. Farmer’s book, Fevers, Feuds, and Diamonds: Ebola and the Ravages of History (2020), the design and delivery of a novel course in medical anthropology and social medicine at UGHE, and a multifaceted campaign to expand global access to COVID-19 vaccines. Ishaan hopes to situate his career at the intersection of clinical practice and global health delivery, with the goal of seeing dignified medical services rolled out—equitably and with quality—in places long deprived of them.