Tarun Ramesh, a third-year student at the University of Georgia, has a passion for using research to develop evidence-based policy solutions to address health care disparities. Further, he seeks to bridge the gap between policy research and community needs by bringing together individuals and organizations with diverse perspectives; developing practical, testable interventions; and making research and conversations surrounding health care more accessible. Through internships and research assistantships, Tarun has worked on multiple issues of health care access and quality, most recently focusing on the opioid crisis in the United States. He hopes that his future work will continue to shift the narrative surrounding addiction away from criminalization and toward disease prevention and treatment.
As an obstetrician, my grandmother dedicated her life to combating disparities in maternal mortality between rural and urban areas, treating sexual violence injuries, and advocating for women’s health. I grew up with her stories as an unapologetic activist and a distinguished physician. They catalyzed my own interest in health policy and advocacy, speciﬁcally centered on social determinants of health and their disparate impacts on vulnerable populations with addiction. In that vein, I have sought to bridge the gap between policy research and community needs by building diverse coalitions to reduce disparities in health care access. In Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, I have worked with the Roosevelt Institute to expand medication-assisted treatment for incarcerated individuals with opioid use disorder, helping to deconstruct the criminalization of addiction. At the Center for American Progress, I highlighted the inadequacies in emergency medical care and the risks that future hospital closures pose to rural residents. These recommendations have been used by congressional campaigns and by hospital boards to emphasize the dangers of closure. Prioritizing community needs has shaped my own policy evaluation framework. I incorporate these narratives into policy analysis, placing the ultimate emphasis on the human cost of health care decisions.