UCLA’s African Studies Center, part of the UCLA International Institute, has established a new fellowship to promote student research and public service in Africa. The Dr. Elizabeth Woldemussie Centennial Global Health Fund was made possible by a $250,000 gift from the estate of Elizabeth Woldemussie, an Ethiopian American pharmacologist who devoted her life to research on ophthalmological diseases. The fund will allow UCLA students to pursue academic study, cultural immersion and public service centered on health and community development in Africa, prioritizing work in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

With additional funding from the Chancellor’s Centennial Scholars Match Initiative, the total investment of the Dr. Elizabeth Woldemussie Centennial Global Health Fund is $375,000. The endowed fellowship will provide up to $4,000 for each student and support four to five students annually for travel and other approved expenses, with a requirement that Woldemussie fellows spend a minimum of 45 days in-country. The fund will be available to undergraduate and graduate students who want to study in an existing program, conduct original research under the guidance of a UCLA faculty member, or implement an original project in partnership with a local health-based or community development agency in the region.

Woldemussie was born in Ethiopia and received the Haile Selassie Prize for talented scholars upon graduation from high school. She earned a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy at Addis Ababa University, a doctorate in pharmacology at Emory University in Georgia, and completed fellowships at Michigan State University and the U.S. National Institute of Health. With a focus on pharmacology, ophthalmology, neuroscience and inflammation, Woldemussie spent her career as a scientist at Pfizer Biopharmaceutical Company and Allergan Pharmaceuticals. Upon retirement, she created Woldemussie Consulting to continue sharing her expertise in ophthalmology research. Throughout her career and life, she was a dedicated mentor to students in both the United States and Ethiopia.