Phillips was awarded the prestigious Barry Scholarship to study Oxford University – UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

July 20, 2023

Ethan Phillips

Ethan Phillips

Ethan Phillips, a recent graduate of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, has been named the 2023 recipient of the John and Diana Barry Scholarship, which provides comprehensive funding for graduate study at the University of Oxford. This autumn, he will read for a Master of Sciences (MSc) in Modeling for Global Health at Reuben College, Oxford, focusing on health economics, reform and equity.

The Barry Scholarship is an academic award given to American citizens and permanent residents in recognition of their dedication to an academic calling and the search for truth, generously funded by the John and Daria Barry Foundation. It provides full funding for a minimum of two years of undergraduate study at the University of Oxford in any discipline and for any degree.

One of the major public health challenges I hope to learn about and work through is the funding allocation and payment models for primary care, Phillips said. Having the opportunity to study in the UK will give me a new understanding of payment structures and funding for health care outside the US, which could help improve Medicare and Medicaid programs to more evenly distribute funding to underserved areas.

The Barry Scholarship is awarded by academics themselves through a dedicated network of nominees at leading academic institutions in the UK and the USA and, as a prize, cannot be claimed. Support includes a substantial living salary, payment of all tuition and tuition costs, a research grant and a travel allowance. In addition, Canterbury Institute dedicates resources to help Barry Scholars organize research events of their own design.

Phillips says studying at Oxford will give him the opportunity to learn new quantitative research skills that he could potentially bring with him to the United States. During my last term, I will work with a research center to apply my new skills in a real-world context and turn research into policy.

Phillips graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill this spring with honors, earning a Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) in health care policy and management (HPM) with minors in public policy and chemistry. As an undergraduate, he was a Morehead-Cain scholar whose research focused on using health information technology to promote health equity in primary care settings.

I entered college expecting to study public policy with a focus on health. However, I learned about the BSPH program through a first-year course in global health policy with Professor Benjamin Mason Meier and was immediately drawn to HPM, she said. My studies at Gillings and my work at the UNC Center for Health Equity Research have continued to fuel my passion for health care reform, focused on improving access and quality for the most vulnerable and marginalized communities.

His outstanding academic achievements have earned him the Department of Health Policy and Management’s James P. Dixon Award for Excellence in Education and the Arnold Kaluzny Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research, as well as the Chancellors Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for selfless dedication to human welfare.

Ethan has excelled at UNC, earning Phi Beta Kappa honors, authorship of numerous academic journal articles and recognition as a Buckley Public Service Scholar, said Melanie Studer, PhD, MSHA, assistant professor and director of graduate studies in health care policy and management. Motivated by his strong service orientation, deep commitment to mental health advocacy, and desire to promote health equity, Ethan has worked tirelessly to ensure that the health and wellness needs of students and campus employees are understood and addressed through his leadership roles with the UNC-Chapel Hill Student Government and the UNC System Association of Student Governments, and his membership on the UNC Campus Health Advisory Board, Campus Mental Health Transformation Steering Committee, and Gillings Student Wellness Task force. Ethan is a true servant-leader who is committed to ensuring that others have the resources and conditions they need to thrive.

Ethan’s research record is among the most impressive I’ve seen for an undergraduate student, said Karl Umble, PhD, MPH, associate professor of health care policy and management. Just as importantly, Ethan is also invariably thoughtful and kind in his interactions with faculty and other students. I have no doubt that Ethan will have an influential career in practice, research and leadership.

Phillips’s student advocacy also included serving as vice president of health and welfare for the UNC Student Governments Association, which served the entire UNC system, and he was the sole undergraduate student representative on the UNC Chancellor’s Research Committee.

“Ethan is talented and has an extremely broad range of intellectual interests,” said Christopher Clemens, PhD, dean and chief academic officer at UNC-Chapel Hill. “Ethan is naturally gifted in physics, chemistry, engineering and medicine. He wants to nurture the parts of his character that can respond to human tragedy with empathy and compassion. Ethan is truly a deserving recipient of the Barry Scholarship and we are delighted with the opportunity it provides Ethan to align interest, talent and character.

Phillips will move to the UK in the autumn and intends to enter medical school after graduation with a view to pursuing a career as a doctor and health policy scholar.

Ethan is a truly extraordinary young man who will make a difference in this world as a physician, researcher, leader and public health professional, said Morris Weinberger, PhD, Vergil N. Slee Distinguished Professor of Healthcare Quality and Management, who served as a consultant to Phillips.

Read the full Barry Scholars announcement.

Contact the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health Communications Team at

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