Michelle Munyikwa MD, PhD

Michelle Munyikwa MD, PhD

Resident Physician, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania & Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania

Internal Medicine-Pediatrics Residency Program

about me


I recently graduated from the joint MD/PhD program in anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania in 2021. I defended my dissertation, Up from the Dirt: Racializing Refuge, Rupture, and Repair in Philadelphia, in 2019. Now I am a current resident physician in combined internal medicine and pediatrics.

Prior to my time at Penn, I studied at the College of William and Mary, where I was a Murray 1693 Scholar. I graduated in 2011 with a self-designed major in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and a second major in Anthropology. As an undergrad at William & Mary, I spent much of my time in biology labs, studying molecular biology through the intricacies of protein signaling pathways. This work culminated in my honors thesis. I subsequently spent a brief time at Merck Research Laboratories, where I discovered that while I was passionate about the molecular pathways that lead to disease, I yearned to know more about the other paths ā€“ historical, social, political-economic ā€“ that structure patterns of health and illness. These interests led me to the combined study of medicine and anthropology.

A political and medical anthropologist by training, I am most interested in understanding the relationship between political economy, history, and practices of care. My dissertation research explored the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers in Philadelphia and the institutions designed to care for them. I have also conducted research on political ideology in the United States, the use of race in biomedicine, and human rights & humanitarianism both domestically and abroad. Clinically, I am interested in work at the intersection of medicine, rights, and the law and have frequently collaborated with lawyers to advocate for patients.

Aside from research, I am passionate about interdisciplinary collaboration, education at all levels, and service.

In my non-academic life, Iā€™m a voracious reader and lifelong diarist, am a consummate digital hoarder and technology fiend, and feel lucky to call the city of Brotherly Love my home.


  • Critical ethnic studies
  • Global health and humanitarianism
  • Health equity
  • Medical education


  • MD, 2021

    University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

  • PhD, Anthropology, 2019

    University of Pennsylvania

  • BS, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; Anthropology, 2011

    College of William and Mary