Tran aspires to work in mental health policy to enact change at a larger scale.
Headshot of Henry Tran
Henry Tran

Michigan native Henry Tran found his calling in biology as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan where he completed a BS in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology with high honors. During his studies, Tran devoted himself to stem cell research, with a particular interest in bipolar disorder. "My colleagues and I were growing and culturing stem cells in the lab, changing them into neurons and studying the developmental differences between neurons with and without bipolar disorder. We also changed neurons into brain organoids—early models of the human brain—essentially modeling the early human brain in a petri dish.”

Though fascinated by the research, Tran began to wonder about its social impact. "I asked myself and my colleagues if people are benefiting from biological research on mental health. Do people actually have access to these treatments? Do they get the help that they need? What can we do on a policy level to enact real changes?”
These questions, Tran said, motivated him to pursue a degree in public policy.

"Research certainly contributes to innovations and treatments, but access to mental health resources continues to be a struggle for many people. That's an issue I hope to help resolve with my Harris education." Tran continued, “The chance to make real change is what motivates me. My work in the biology lab was valuable, but I think I’ll be able to make an even greater impact through policy than I could in the lab."

Tran said attending Admitted Students' Day in 2022 confirmed that Harris was the right fit for him. "The diversity of interests among the students and faculty I met during Admitted Student Day was incredible, and my experience thus far—collaborating with people who have different backgrounds, interests, and skills—has been everything I had hoped for."
One of the skills Tran said he has been honing thus far at Harris has been his policy memo writing skills, fortified through a combination of coursework and group work with fellow students who have strong English proficiency.

In addition to his academic interests, Tran also has been able to enjoy his love for tennis and pickleball while at Harris. "Whether it’s officiating, coaching, competing, or even building the courts, I love all aspects of tennis."

Outside of academics (and off the courts), Tran is working as an intern in Senator Tammy Duckworth's office, focusing on assisting constituents with Medicaid/Medicare services and researching policies on mental healthcare benefits for veterans. "I'm looking forward to leveraging the necessary policy skills I gain at Harris to contribute towards revitalizing mental healthcare and removing the stigma associated with those seeking mental health assistance. My time at Harris will be crucial for achieving my aspirations of applying policy concepts in biological research funding and mental health accessibility. I believe it will broaden the scope of my science background to help create tangible policy change that positively impacts humanity."