An Emory University graduate student who works with survivors of torture who have sought asylum in the United States has been awarded the 2005 Navin Narayan Award by the Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). Presented annually, the award recognizes one student in the country who has demonstrated great leadership, commitment and dedication to health and human rights activism.
Brandon Kohrt, in his fifth year of MD/PhD training in medicine and anthropology at Emory, was recognized for his work with the Atlanta Asylum Network, a group he co-founded in 2003 to provide medical and psychological documentation for torture survivors now living in the southeastern United States. For the past three years, he has also been active with PHR. Mr. Kohrt became interested in helping immigrant populations after spending time engaged in mental health projects in Nepal and Mongolia.
"Human rights violations underlie the majority of health problems both in the United States and throughout the world," he says. "After my experiences in other countries, I wanted to work with survivors of human rights violations who have come to the United States. Survivors of torture are one of the communities in greatest need." Len Rubenstein, Executive Director of Physicians for Human Rights, presented Mr. Kohrt with the award at a recent PHR conference. Rubenstein remarked that Mr. Kohrt's compassion for victims combined with his clinical and social training makes him a "powerful advocate for survivors of torture."
Thomas J. Lawley, MD, dean of the Emory School of Medicine says, "I couldn't be more pleased for Brandon. His work can serve as an example of altruistic outreach for all in our profession."
George Armelagos, PhD, chairman of Emory's Department of Anthropology adds: "Brandon Kohrt's contribution to health and human rights exemplifies the best of medicine, anthropology and Emory University. His contribution to social justice as a member of Atlanta Asylum Network's outreach to victims of torture living in our community reflects a local response to a global problem. We are proud of Brandon's application of anthropology to this important cause in Atlanta and his future work in Nepal."
Mr. Kohrt will travel to Nepal in 2006 to provide clinical care for survivors of torture. He will also conduct medical anthropology research addressing human rights violations in the ongoing conflict between government security forces and Maoist rebels. Mr. Kohrt will be working with the Center for Victims of Torture, an organization founded in 1990 by the current president of the International Council for the Rehabilitation of Torture Survivors.