Outstanding Undergraduate Alumni: Philippa Newell

Philippa “Pippa” Newell grew up in the Sonoran Desert and graduated summa cum laude from the University of Arizona with degrees in Anthropology and Sociology in 1997. She attended medical school at the University of Arizona (M.D., 2003), and completed her Internship and Residency in General Surgery at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York. There she was introduced to the world of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The neighborhood around the hospital, Spanish Harlem, had the highest Hepatitis C seropositivity rates in the nation.

In 2010 Dr. Newell moved to Portland, Oregon for a Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery Fellowship at Providence Portland Medical Center. She is currently in the surgical oncology unit at The Oregon Clinic and at the Liver Cancer Clinic at Providence Portland and Providence St. Vincent, caring for patients with HCC.

Dr. Newell writes about the importance of her undergraduate studies in Anthropology at UA:

It probably does seem like a far cry from anthropology to liver and pancreas cancer surgery! The path to get here sort of meandered, but the point of embarkation was definitely anthropology. My time in UA School of Anthropology’s Applied Anthropology Program with Tim Finan and the rest of the crew there formed the basis of my decision to go to medical school. I went to Senegal for my junior year and returned as a Fulbright Scholar for a couple years between college and med school. My anthropology training helped me understand life in Senegal in a way that I never could have otherwise, and the stories and insights I came home with from Senegal really got the attention of both medical school and application interviewers. Anthropology training gives you a point of view about the way societies function and the way people function within those societies that you might be blind to otherwise. People are way more complex than their biology!

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