Sujal Parikh, a fourth-year student at the University’s Medical School, passed away Tuesday night in Kampala, Uganda after being injured in a motorcycle accident.
Parikh was researching pediatric HIV and AIDS at the Joint Clinical Research Centre in Kampala as a Fogarty International Clinical Research Scholar.
Elizabeth Petty, associate dean of the University’s Office of Medical Student Education, said in a phone interview that Parikh was a “very inspirational, visionary young man who was incredibly humble and incredibly generous with his time.”
Petty wrote in an e-mail interview that Parikh “will be dearly missed” by the Medical School community.
“Sujal was such an exceptional human being — a true humanitarian,” Petty wrote. “He was tireless and selfless in his passionate efforts to address social injustice and health disparities globally. He touched us all so profoundly with his insightful words, visionary thoughts and generous actions.”
Petty wrote that Parikh had a passion for social justice and international health, which could be seen in the variety of organizations he participated in. Parikh partook in the Student Advisory Board for Physicians for Human Rights, the Student Advisory Committee for the Global Health Education Consortium and the American Medical Student Association’s AIDS Advocacy Network Steering Committee.
Originally from Dallas, Texas, Parikh got his undergraduate degree in public health and neurobiology at the University of California–Berkeley. He came to the University in 2007 for his first year of medical school.
On his blog called “Mzungu Bye!”— a phrase Ugandan children often yelled out to him because mzungu means foreigner or white person — Parikh wrote about the two previous visits he made to Uganda.
In 2005, Parikh led a group of seven other volunteers for the Uganda Village Project, a health and development non-governmental organization. In 2008, together with researchers from the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, Parikh worked in Kayunga, Uganda as a field coordinator for a study on cognitive rehabilitation for HIV-positive children, according to his blog.
“Both of those were wonderful experiences for me, and are a big part of why I wanted to come back to Uganda,” Parikh wrote in a July 30 blog post.
Parikh wrote in the same blog entry that he planned to stay in Uganda until the summer of 2011.
The Medical School community is currently organizing a memorial service to honor Parikh and has set up a memorial fund in his name.
“As we celebrate his life we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends throughout the world,” Petty wrote. “Sujal will be dearly missed by our students, staff and faculty.”