Sujal Parikh in the Congo

Sujal Parikh

PHR has sadly received word of the untimely death of Student Advisory Board Member Sujal Parikh. Sujal was a third year medical student at the University of Michigan Medical School and a member of PHR’s Student Advisory Board. He was born and raised in Dallas, TX and was a 2006 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Public Health and Neurobiology. His research and advocacy focused on health and human rights, access to medicines, medical education, and infectious disease issues in the US, Sub-Saharan Africa, and India.

In addition to his work with PHR, he was the Associate Editor-in-Chief of Global Pulse Journal, and served on the the Student Advisory Committee for the Global Health Education Consortium, the American Medical Student Association’s AIDS Advocacy Network Steering Committee, the Board of Trustees for Uganda Village Project, and the Internal Advisory Council of the University of Michigan Center for Global Health. He hoped to pursue a career that spanned education, research, advocacy, and clinical practice. Sujal was the 2009 recipient of PHR’s Emerging Leader Award, presented at the 2009 National Student Conference, in recognition of his dedication to human rights advocacy.

“There are many ways for us to work together and even more reasons for doing so.”
Sujal Parikh

We invite you to offer your own comments and remembrances below.

“PHR mourns the loss of Sujal Parikh. As a member of our Student Advisory Board, Sujal’s passion and insight helped guide our National Student Program. Sujal had recently been awarded a position in Uganda by the Fogarty International Clinical Research Program, where he was working with Dr. Peter Mugyenyi at the Joint Clinical Research Centre. His untimely death is a loss not only for those who knew and loved him but for the thousands whose lives his work would have doubtless touched as a leading human rights activist. Those who worked with Sujal can best capture the spirit of this remarkable man.”
— Frank Donaghue, CEO, Physicians for Human Rights

Sujal Parikh and members of the PHR student team during the 2010 National Student Conference.

Sujal Parikh, far right, and members of the PHR student team during the 2010 National Student Conference.

“Sujal was, in all arenas, the embodiment of John F. Kennedy’s words: a man whose horizons were never limited by the obvious realities, a man who dreamed of things that never were — and a man who gave his entire life to the advancement of the right to health. As we mourn a friend who personified audacity in all that he did — our generation’s Jonathan Mann — we must rededicate ourselves a hundred-fold to advancing Sujal’s dream. To do anything less would be the gravest of injustices.”
— Ali Khan, MD, MPP, PHR Board Member

Sujal Parikh at the 2009 PHR Student Conference

PHR Deputy Director Susannah Sirkin presents Sujal Parikh with the "Emerging Leader" award at the 2009 National Student Conference.

“Today we honor Sujal Parikh, our friend, colleague and one of the foremost leaders of his generation with respect to health and human rights. His recent death is a tragedy for those of us who loved him deeply but also for the thousands of people who would have benefited from his creative ingenuity in tackling public health problems and the myriad social disparities that leave the poor and neglected without healthcare. Sujal was an inspiration to us all, and it was evident early on that his intelligence, compassion and refusal to accept the “impossible” would lead him to the forefront of the fight for human rights equality.”
— Katherine Ratzan Peeler, MD, former PHR Student Advisory Board while at Dartmouth Medical School

Sujal Parikh and others at the 2009 Conference

Sujal Parikh (far left) and fellow Student Program members at the 2009 Conference.

“It is heartbreaking. I worked closely with him both with the PHR medical student chapter and in our work trying to strengthen our global health curriculum and programs at the University of Michigan. Even in the midst of all of his clinical clerkships these past two years, doing the long-term research in Uganda with children with HIV he was involved in (and where he died), and all his multiple advocacy leadership efforts, he would email me long, thoughtful emails about how we could improve global health, sharing multiple resources with me. I think this Claude Bissel quote from his Facebook page profile speaks eloquently to the way he lived his life:
Risk more than others think is safe.
Care more than others think is wise.
Dream more than others think is practical.
Expect more than others think is possible.

— Michele Heisler, MD, PHR Board Member, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan

Sujal Parikh speaking at the 2010 National Conference during the panel discussion “Human Rights and Health Education: Dueling Frameworks or Essential Integration?”

Share Your Thoughts and Memories

19 Comments »

19 Responses to “A Tribute to Sujal Parikh”

  1. Lakshmi Krishnan says:

    Sujal,

    Your loss is devastating. You inspired me with your intelligence, kindness, and bravery, your unflinching dedication to bettering this world. And you leave it, as well as the many lives you touched, better for having known you. Thank you.

  2. Avatar of Ben Pederson Ben Pederson says:

    I am heartbroken at this news; your loss is indeed devastating. Your work and energy are inspiring. May we continue to work to manifest your vision of a more just and equitable world. Our prayers are with your family, you will be missed and remain in our memories.

  3. Nick Reeves, former member of PHR's Student Advisory Board says:

    Sujal was an exemplary health and human rights activist, a brilliant scientific mind, and a wonderful friend. He was always willing to take on another fight against injustice, even during his grueling 3rd year of medical school, when time is so precious. After a conversation we had about the health and human rights consequences of cluster munitions, he took the idea and ran with it, creating an amazing poster presentation and immediately starting to contact key players who could help him build a movement… he taught me what effective activism really looks like. Even though his expansive conscience compelled him to take on these many struggles, while medical school already demanded most of his time, Sujal still managed to spend abundant time with his many friends. His friends knew him as a warm-hearted, open, often hilarious, fun-loving, eclectic, and sharp-witted friend, whose brilliant mind didn’t prevent him from being a bit goofy on occasion. Sujal was loved by so many, and he will be dearly missed! Sujal’s loss is also a major loss for health and human rights activism, and the greatest way to honor his memory is to continue that work, and redouble our efforts, to make the world a healthier and more peaceful planet.

  4. Aliza Norwood says:

    Sujal was one of the most impressive, unique people I have ever met. In any meeting he immediately became a conspicuous leader, not because he was louder or more assertive than others, but because he was so eloquent and projected a sense of confidence and ease that made leadership seem natural for him. His words were invariably insightful, intelligent and kind. Sujal had every right to tout his superhuman accomplishments, but in every interaction I had with him he was nothing but welcoming, humble, and genuine.
    The waves from Sujal’s impact in this world, and the effects of the incredible work he did, will be felt far, far into the future. He will forever be a role model to me, both as a human rights advocate and a person. I am thankful to him and his family for his remarkable life; our world is a better place because he was here.

  5. Kanwal Kalim says:

    I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing away of Sujal. I met Sujal very briefly at the 2010 PHR national conference, he left a huge impression on me. I deeply admired the work he had already done and believed he would go on to do great things.

  6. Jake Imber says:

    Sujal was an inspiration to me personally and to many of those I know in the human rights movement. His passing is a major loss to all who knew him. I plan to honor his memory by continuing to work for the issues he held dearest: equality, non-discrimination and health-care for all. Sujal – you will be missed, but you will live on in the work you dedicated your life to.

  7. Jacqueline D. says:

    I did not have the fortune of knowing this extraordinary young man, Sujal, but I’m very saddened by his passing. I pray for God to give strength and comfort to his family and friends. This is such a tremendous loss. My heart goes out to Sujal’s parents especially. Sujal’s memory and life will touch so many people–I have no doubt this. My he rest in peace.

  8. HEARTFELT CONDOLENCES !!!

    We all are deeply saddened by the most unfortunate and untimely demise of dear Sujal.

    Sujal was working with lot of commitment,sincerity and diligence in Uganda under the Fogarty International Clinical Research Program at the Joint Clinical Research Centre.

    The untimely demise of a human rights activist of his stature and potential is a great loss for all those who worked with him directly and the thousands of others whose lives his work would have touched through the zealous and committed approach he always adopted.

    Sujal you will always be in our hearts and will continue to inspire all of us to go working, inter alia , for the establishment of the right to health (and not just right to healthcare) as a basic human right.

    May the members of his family and close friends get the courage and strength to bear the irreparable loss !

  9. We all in Gujarat,India are are deeply saddened by the most unfortunate and untimely demise of dear Sujal.

    Mr.Sujal Parikh -a third year medical student at the University of Michigan Medical School was working with lot of commitment, sincerity and diligence under the Fogarty International Clinical Research Programme at the Joint Clinical Research Centre, Uganda.

    As a Fogarty Fellow he was doing long-term research with children with HIV (CLHIV and he would have returned to the University of Michigan for his 4th year but for his premature death.

    He was born and brought up in Dallas, Texas and was a 2006 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Public Health and Neurobiology. His research and advocacy focused on health and human rights, access to medicines, medical education, and infectious disease issues in the US, Sub-Saharan Africa, and India. He was a member of several committees including the American Medical Student Association’s AIDS Advocacy Network Steering Committee. Late Mr.Sujal Parikh was the 2009 recipient of the Emerging Leader Award of the Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).

    The untimely demise of a scholar and a health and human rights activist of his stature and potential is a great loss for all those who worked with him directly besides the thousands of others whose lives his work would have touched through the zealous and committed approach he had adopted.

    Sujal you will always be in our hearts and will continue to inspire all of us to go working, inter alia, for the establishment of the right to health (and not just right to healthcare) as a basic human right.

    May the members of his family and close friends get the courage and strength to bear the irreparable devastating loss!

    We all will fondly remember the prophetic words and will try to work on them:

    “There are many ways for us to work together and even more reasons for doing so.”
    — Sujal Parikh

  10. Sohil Sud says:

    To Sujal’s family:
    Sujal was the complete package: a do-er and a thinker; inspiring and innovating; eloquent and casual; wise and witty. And all this with generous heart and a wide smile. Never have I interacted with someone possessing more knowledge, courage, and conviction. Please know that Sujal’s life and work continue to inspire us all, and I will miss him so dearly. I mourn your loss, the world’s loss, and heaven’s gain.

  11. Sujal’s range of interests and commitments to the health and human rights agenda was vast. As he headed off to become a Fogarty Fellow in Uganda, he dashed off a note to us indicating his interest in connecting with our partners there at the Action Group for Health, Human Rights and HIV-AIDS. Just a month or two earlier, he was revising a medical journal submission on the health consequences of cluster munitions. His grasp of the connections between disease and human rights, and his engagement with the strengthening of a true advocacy movement for health and rights was always so serious, but also so much fun. His wit and intensity and humility will inspire me as we mourn his loss. I will remember his sweet and somewhat bemused smile as I handed him the 2009 Emerging Leaders Award. His leadership certainly emerged and will survive well beyond his all-too-short life on earth.

  12. Nathan Mustain says:

    This is hearbreaking! I first met Suj at the regional PHR conference in Chicago last year. He made an instant impression, as a brilliant, friendly, energetic, compassionate and creative guy. A born leader, with both confidence and humility. It was obvious that he loved people very much. We corresponded on many occasions since then, and when I was in Uganda this summer, I experienced a really scary sudden onset unilateral neurological deficit, sensory and motor. I called Suj and asked for his help finding help, as I knew he was working with some bigwig docs. He dropped everything, made a ton of calls, and called me back several times, both to give me more contacts and advice, and to check on how I was doing. We had plans to hang out, but it never panned out, as I had to return to the north before we could get together. But with his help, I found the help I needed and miraculously ended up finding an MRI and a qualified spine specialist to read it. I would never have known where to go if Suj hadn’t gone out of his way to make a ton of calls. He was a baller and a good man. And I think he still is. Rock on Suj,

    I echo the sentiments of others posting here: the best way to honor Suj is to cary on the work for peace, unity, justice and love for everyone.

  13. Alastair Green says:

    I went to high school with Sujal and am saddened that hear that he is no longer with us. As someone who works extensively in East Africa, I am acutely aware of how much needs to be done, especially in the healthcare space. Sujal was making a real difference to thousands of people, and it is tragic that his life and his great work have ended so prematurely. My thoughts go out to Sujal’s family and friends in this difficult time.

  14. Fiona Somers says:

    Sujal was taken from us far too soon, but in the short time that he had, he accomplished more and touched more lives than many could hope to in a lifetime. His ability to inspire so many was his greatest gift–one that will ensure that his work and his passion live on in his absence. I can only hope to continue learning from his example of compassion, eloquence, humility, and dedication as we strive to promote the causes that he cared so much about. To Sujal’s family: thank you for nurturing such an amazing person and sharing him with the world. And to Sujal: thank you for giving so much of yourself to everyone you encountered. You will be deeply missed.

  15. Dr Rajesh Gopal says:

    On 17/10/2010, cklife999@yahoo.com wrote:

    Kindly manage to convey our heartfelt condolences on untimely sad demise of
    Sujal.

    Pray his soul may rest in peace.

    With Best Wishes

    Yours sincerely

    Chandrakant Koticha
    Mobile : +91 98240 43363

    Tel.: +91 281 245 32 82 (D)
    Tel.: +91 281 247 91 33 (B)
    Fax: +91 281 247 91 22
    Email: savelife@999life.org
    Web: http://www.999life.org

  16. Hitesh & Niki , NJ says:

    To Sujals Family:
    May God Bless this kind soul, I just learned about all the good things he has accomplished in his life and are truly saddened by this huge loss to humanity.

  17. asha parikh says:

    to his family

    He was such a fine person and talking to him when he last visited Inida made me think that he had THAT THING to change the world. He could have made a difference if GOD has given him time. But what he achived in such a short life will make him to be remembered forever.

    may his soul rest in peace.

  18. Hope O'Brien says:

    Like all of you, I’m deeply shocked and saddened by Sujal’s passing. We are all better off for having had Sujal in our lives. He envisioned a higher standard, a better world, and urged us to work together towards that goal. I admired that he applied these lofty ideals in such practical, applied ways. I will continue to be inspired by his example.

    I want to thank Sujal’s family for nurturing his integrity, his discipline, his intelligence, his compassion, and his dedication. Please accept my condolences.

    As inadequate as these words seem to me, I’m grateful to be able to share my grief. Thank you all for your thoughts, as well. I agree with what so many of you have said: it is important for us to find a way to honor him, remember him, and to inspire others to follow in his footsteps.

  19. Manoj Parikh says:

    Everyone’s comments are comforting to us to bear his loss. We appreciate it. We may have lost one Sujal, our son, but he lives his dreams and inspiration in each and every one of you.

    Please carry on the torch he lighted for the betterment of humanity.

    Appreciate kindness of everyone

    Manoj & Sita Parikh

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