Scholars At Risk


Scholars At Risk (SAR) is an international organization dedicated to promoting academic freedom through protection, advocacy, and learning. Scholars facing threats in their home countries move to host institutions, where they can continue their work until conditions improve and they can return home. UCSF recently has established an SAR chapter; scholars who find themselves in danger can apply to UCSF through SAR, and their move and professional/educational endeavors will be facilitated and funded. From 2021, the UCSF SAR committee has raised funds to assist several scholars from Afghanistan, Ukraine, and other countries.

More information on the global Scholars at Risk network can be found here.

Current Opportunities

UCSF Scholars at Risk is coordinating with the Global Disaster Assistance Committee to develop ways to help scholars in Turkey and Syria to bring them to UCSF to continue their scholarship and eventually return to their home country.

The UCSF Scholars at Risk Program also invites scholars studying in Ukraine to apply for two unique training opportunities.

  1. Training opportunities at UCSF. Our Scholars at Risk Program is offering multiple training opportunities for health professionals, students, and researchers to apply for one of many programs to advance their careers at a time of grave and catastrophic destruction to Ukraine and their academic and health care institutions. These programs allow for a continuation of training until a safe return to Ukraine is possible. Scholars may apply to bring their family with them. Most, if not all, costs will be covered by our program, including travel and accommodation, tuition, stipend, lab fees, etc. The possible programs are listed below, including advanced degrees in Global Health Sciences. Unique fellowships are also possible for scholars with specific credentials.
  2. UCSF Scholars at Risk Fellowship. Fellows apply for a one-year fellowship based at UCSF’s Institute for Global Health Sciences and UCSF’s Health and Human Rights Initiative to gain additional skills, contribute to advancing global health and human rights, and contribute to communities in need.

Interested candidates in either opportunity can apply by writing directly to the UCSF Scholars at Risk Program with the following information and materials:

  1. Statement of intent, purpose, background, and plans
  2. Statement current living situation and if family members will be joining the scholar
  3. Evidence of degree, if applying to a degree program
  4. Selection of desired training program

The SAR Committee will review these documents in a timely manner and respond with follow-up steps.

Examples of possible programs include:

Click here to learn about other programs and opportunities.

SAR Scholar spotlight

On August 15, 2021, Kabul, Afghanistan fell to the Taliban. For many people, this was a nightmare come true. The Taliban sent death threats to anyone they viewed as a traitor. Jane (not her real name) was the recipient of one of these threats.

Prior to the takeover, Jane worked in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Kabul. In the latter half of 2021, she participated in the International Traineeships in AIDS Prevention Studies Scientific Writing Distance Learning Program. During this period, she received a threat on her life from the Taliban because she had previously worked with the Afghan government. Desperate for help, she wrote to a staff member of UCSF.

Immediately, the UCSF Scholars At Risk (SAR) team got to work, and Jane was admitted to the UCSF Masters in Global Health program. Because Jane didn’t have a US visa and all flights out of Kabul were cancelled, it was impossible for her to leave for UCSF. She still had to escape Kabul, however, so she started a days-long journey to the edge of Afghanistan by bus and crossed the border to Pakistan on foot. Once she arrived in Islamabad, Pakistan, the SAR team helped her find housing until she was able to apply for her visa at the US embassy. Less than two weeks later, her visa was denied under the condition of failure to establish strong ties in her home country. This news left her devastated, as she was stranded and alone in a new country.

Jane forged onwards and reapplied for her US visa. Finally, she was granted her US visa 20 days after it had been denied. After all her travel arrangements were made, she finally arrived in San Francisco where members of SAR welcomed her.

Jane’s journey was tedious and grueling, and it could not have been accomplished without her grit and SAR’s diligence. Now Jane is a loved and respected member of the UCSF community, and she hopes to help others in similar situations to hers.


UCSF Scholars at Risk Initiative invites you to partner with us! Your donation will help bolster our efforts to give scholars a safe haven at UCSF to continue their studies free from persecution.

To learn more about supporting UCSF SAR and how you can direct your gift toward this program, please contact Allison White, director of University Development, at [email protected] or 415-502-5868.

To donate online: Make a Gift to the Scholars at Risk Initiative

You can also donate to specific campaigns:

Thank you for your interest and support!

Contact Us

For more information on UCSF SAR, please contact [email protected].