Fatema Basrai: Educator, Innovator, Mentor
By Hailey O'Connor YC ’24
Across Yale’s landscape of global health innovation, Fatema Basrai stands out as a driving force behind initiatives that bridge education and public health. As the Managing Director of InnovateHealth Yale and the Sustainable Health Initiative — housed within the Yale School of Public Health and the Yale Institute for Global Health, respectively — Basrai and the innovation centers she leads represent Yale’s interdisciplinary approach to social innovation and entrepreneurship in global health.
Basrai's journey into the world of innovation began with her experiences as a third grade teacher and involvement in education non-profits, where she tackled diverse issues in the K-12 educational landscape. Being an educator helped to lay the foundation for her commitment to facilitating positive change.
In her role as Managing Director, Basrai collaborates with Yale students, faculty, staff, and the broader community to nurture social ventures in health and education on a global scale. InnovateHealth Yale and the Sustainable Health Initiative, under her guidance, support exciting projects through crucial elements like funding, mentorship, and community building. For Basrai, the measure of a successful venture is not merely financial metrics, but innovation that can truly make a meaningful impact.
Basrai is deeply involved in supporting student-led global health ventures, particularly those serving underserved communities both in the United States and around the world. The ventures encompass a wide array of public health issues, including digital health, diagnostic tools, policy initiatives, and technological support. The emphasis remains on fostering innovations with the potential for substantial, real-world impact.
Being an integral part of Yale's innovation ecosystem, Basrai ensures that she remains plugged into the ever-expanding network of resources. This connectivity allows her to share valuable relations and insights with emerging innovators. She actively links students with alumni engaged in similar innovative endeavors, creating a bridge between the current and future generations of change-makers. In the spirit of collaboration, Basrai brings together interdisciplinary teams comprising students from various academic backgrounds. The goal is to encourage diverse perspectives in tackling complex global health challenges.
One aspect of Basrai's role that she particularly relishes is mentorship. She actively engages with student founders, providing guidance and support throughout their journeys. Witnessing the lasting impact of their work on global health is a source of immense pride for Basrai: “It’s always amazing to see and hear from [innovators] years later and learn the impact their work is making around the world. I feel honored to play a small part in their journeys!”
Her advice to Yale innovators is simple: Leverage the abundant resources within the innovation ecosystem and seek out opportunities for collaboration and learning.
Looking ahead, the Sustainable Health Initiative is gearing up to run a global health venture development program in collaboration with Tsai CITY this spring while InnovateHealth Yale is looking forward to sponsoring this year’s Thorne Prize for Social Innovation in Health or Education. These initiatives reflect a commitment to continually evolve and expand the scope of impact within the realm of global health innovation.
Through Basrai’s leadership, InnovateHealth Yale and the Sustainable Health Initiative serve as catalysts for transformative solutions at the intersection of education, innovation, and global health creating a ripple effect that extends far beyond the Yale community. As Basrai aptly puts it, "We all want to see each other succeed," encapsulating the spirit of collaboration and shared success that defines Yale's innovation ecosystem.