Matthew Jeremiah Matson, an M.D./Ph.D. student at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, has been named a 2017 recipient of the Benjamin H. Kean Travel Fellowship in Tropical Medicine by the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH).

Matson will travel to the Republic of the Congo in November for a one-month fellowship to pursue his submitted project, “Arboviruses in the Republic of the Congo: Host Ecology and Epidemiology.”  The fellowship is the only medical student award dedicated to nurturing a career path for physician-scientists in tropical medicine.

“The society congratulates this year’s ASTMH Kean Fellows,” said ASTMH President Patricia F. Walker, M.D. “As a society, our goal is to guide these future leaders toward fulfilling careers that help improve the lives of the millions of people who suffer needlessly from tropical diseases.

The ASTMH Kean Travel Fellowship helps make overseas training possible and works to build the ranks of physician-scientists focused on diseases that particularly impact those living in low-income countries.”

According to ASTMH, 21 fellows from 14 medical schools were selected through a highly competitive process.

Matson is a native of Charleston, West Virginia, and did his undergraduate work at Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. He also completed a bachelor’s degree in theology from Moore College in Sydney, Australia.

“I am very honored, encouraged and thankful to receive the Kean Fellowship,“ Matson said. “As a student, it’s far too easy to compartmentalize training and career, and thus miss out on all sorts of opportunities for growth because of an instinctual adherence to this false dichotomy. The Kean Fellowship and other similar programs help break these barriers.”

After completing his second year of medical school at Marshall this past spring, Matson began working on his dissertation research through the National Institutes of Health at the NIH/NiAID Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana.

His mentor at Marshall, Hongwei Yu, Ph.D., a professor in the department of biomedical sciences, says he’s very excited that Matson has been recognized for his work.

“Jeremiah works very hard in the laboratory and is a well-thought-of medical student,” Yu said. “This fellowship will enable him to gain the firsthand experiences of how an infectious disease starts its cycle, from its native ecology, environment to the first human contact.  This will also motivate a future physician-scientist like him to dedicate his career to fight the infectious disease which impacts all of us in the long run.”

The fellowship is named to honor Benjamin H. Kean, MD, (1912-1993), an internationally acclaimed tropical medicine expert and personal mentor to many of today’s world-renowned tropical medicine experts who were inspired by him as his students in medical school. Kean is also credited with discovering the causes of several diseases, including turista or traveler’s diarrhea.