WRAP 2022: Vasuprada Shandar, W’25, C’25

This summer I had the opportunity to explore my interest in the field of healthcare economics and policy at the London School of Economics under Professor Joan Costa-Font. Through this experience I worked on multiple projects in the healthcare field including a book on the political economy of healthcare, WHO reports, and a data analysis project on life expectancies and health inequalities. My research took the form of compiling data, coding in R, and reading literature.

As a dual-degree student in the Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management, I initially applied to World Research Assistantship Program (WRAP) because I wanted to learn about healthcare from a different perspective. There’s a somewhat limited way that healthcare is researched in the US, and it’s often because we’re so focused on solving the pitfalls we see in our own system. But I wanted the opportunity to study healthcare inequities and systems on a broader, more encompassing scale. Being in London allowed me to do that in multiple ways. First, as part of my internship, I worked on multiple projects that studied the sustainability of healthcare systems in different countries including Mexico, Italy, and the UK. One of the most interesting reports I was able to work on looked at long-term care around the world and the challenges facing its financing in the coming decades in countries like China and India. The project that I primarily worked on was analyzing changes in health disparities based on different social/income class in European monarchies over the past few centuries.

Vasu sits in a London cable car over the Thames River with a view of London through the window
Riding a London cable car over the Thames River with a view of the city skyline.

But one of the best aspects of WRAP is that I was able to learn and grow even more beyond my internship. Conversations with local friends and colleagues about their interactions with the UK healthcare system (NHS) allowed me to deepen my understanding of what I had learned through my research and draw comparisons to what I knew of the American healthcare system. I found it incredibly interesting to see the tradeoffs between access, cost, and quality, especially considering the emphasis different countries place on each aspect. I’m excited to continue exploring the healthcare industry when I get back to Penn, especially as it fits into my career goals in medicine and research.

Vasu stands in front of the Thames River in London. On the other side are Parliament and Big Ben.
Standing in front of the Thames River across from Parliament and Big Ben in London.

While I learned so much through my internship and by being at LSE, some of the most fun parts of my summer was also just exploring London! I lived in Brick Lane in East London, one of the most unique areas known for its cultural diversity, fashion scene, and buzzing energy. I had so much fun exploring the local vintage stores, cafes, and parks with the new friends I made along the way! You can never run out of things to do in London from visiting the National Art Gallery to strolling along the Thames to walking into a random stand-up comedy show! Moving to a new country by myself was something I had never done before, and it forced me to step out of my comfort zone and learn to say yes more. My summer in London was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I’m so glad I got this opportunity through WRAP!