Joan A. Kleinman Travel & Language Grant: Jessica L. Ding (2019)

January 19, 2023
Photo of crowded lobby and escalator in China

The Joan Andrea Kleinman Travel and Language Grant is made in memory of Joan A. Kleinman, a scholar of Chinese language and literature and co-researcher with Dr. Arthur Kleinman of projects in medical anthropology. Joan Andrea Kleinman was committed to language as the basis for cultural and international studies and developed Chinese fluency only after her initial graduate studies in French. The goal of this grant is to promote language acquisition for use in the service of global health research. The language acquisition aspect of the summer research project may involve formal coursework or informal tutoring.


One or two annual awards are made to support summer field research and language learning outside of the United States in East Asia: China (including Hong Kong), Taiwan, Korea, and Japan. This grant supports research on the broadest aspects of health, illness and social suffering. Jessica L. Ding was the 2019 award recipient of the Joan Andrea Kleinman Travel and Language Grant. Ding’s project was titled “Navigation, Consumption, and Provision of Healthcare at the Intersection of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Biomedicine.” Ding’s recent statement about her project and experience is below, along with fieldwork photos she shares from her trip.


When I think back to the summer of 2019, I am struck by how much those three months shaped my current life and career path. Thanks to the Joan Andrea Kleinman Travel and Language Grant, I was able to use that time to its fullest. I conducted independent ethnographic fieldwork at a research hospital in Shanghai, China, and received medical Chinese language tutoring at the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. I investigated the processes of medical integration, reciprocal caregiving in practice, and therapeutic itinerary construction. That summer’s research culminated in my undergraduate senior honors thesis, “Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts: Narratives of Integrative Care in China,” which won the Evon Z. Vogt Prize for best social anthropology thesis of 2020. It also informed a paper, “Negotiating Doctor-Patient Relationships: Lessons for Caregiving from Integrative Medicine in Shanghai, China,” that won the 2021 W.H.R. Rivers Prize from the Society for Medical Anthropology. Most importantly, the grant funded an experience that solidified my decision to pursue dual degree training in medicine and anthropology.

I am now a first-year MD-PhD student at Michigan State University, where I plan to build on my prior research and apply that knowledge to future clinical practice. I am very thankful to the Joan Andrea Kleinman Travel and Language Grant for allowing me to grow academically and personally, and for helping me reach where I am today.”


The Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School invites MD and MD-PhD students of Harvard Medical School and students of Harvard College to apply for this year’s Joan Andrea Kleinman Travel and Language Grant. The maximum award will be $7,500. Applications will be accepted until February 3, 2023. Apply via CARAT at

Search for Joan Andrea Kleinman Travel and Language Grant.


IMPORTANT NOTE: Please note that all support related to international travel is contingent upon Harvard University guidelines and safety protocols. Please see the following sites for the most up-to-date guidance: Harvard Travel Guidance and Harvard GSS COVID-19 travel advice.


Please contact Kathryn Vandever with any questions at