Alumni Q&A

Rekha Ramesh, MPP’99 (Chicago)

Rekha Ramesh is a graduate of the MPP program with a concentration in health policy and administration and is now the Head of Public Policy at Gilead Sciences, a research-based pharmaceutical company. In this Alumni Q&A, she talks about the value of a Harris Public Policy degree and the significance of the double executive Master’s with the LSE.



Head of Public Policy, Gilead Sciences


BA in biology, Washington University in St. Louis

What makes Harris unique?

Frankly, people take you very seriously when you say you came out of Harris. They know that they’re dealing with somebody who has deep, substantive knowledge and can solve problems thoughtfully and creatively. You have the ability to make a difference because you know what you’re talking about.

I feel strongly that Harris and the University of Chicago uniquely position students with a strong foundation that allows them to do whatever they want to do in the policy arena. It’s hard to find multi-disciplinary programs that hit economics, political science, law, and statistics in such a way that you feel comfortable will all of them by the time you graduate. Also, the University of Chicago offers vast resources that Harris students tap into, including an incredibly powerful business school and Nobel laureates on staff from varying disciplines.

Why do you think that policy students in health care should be knowledgeable about other systems in the world?

I’ve been watching the international stage evolve on health care and the truth is that there are more similarities than differences across countries. For example, many countries face fragmentation in the financing of health care. There are countries that are not as fragmented as the United States, but they still have misaligned resources when it comes to delivering services and treatments and balancing annual budgets. Health care budgets and government budgets are constrained around the world while new and highly effective innovations are changing the way that health care is delivered. Learning how to best deliver those breakthroughs to patients is a goal shared by all of us in health care—around the world. The more we talk, the more we can learn from one another and figure out how to solve these critical problems.

What is the value of a Double Executive Master’s in Health Policy with LSE?

Graduates of the Chicago-LSE Double Executive Master’s in Health Policy will be prepared to engage in high-level and multi-stakeholder policy discussions and debates about health care financing, reimbursement, and coverage, as well as recognize the common goal of providing access to health care for patients without dis-incentivizing new and effective ways to provide health care. It’s really unique to have a program that allows executives to learn about the nuances of health care worldwide and allows them to be part of the strategies that will balance sustainability of innovation and health coverage for the future.