One of the biggest benefits of a Southwestern education is the opportunity to get to know the faculty one-on-one. Many students develop lasting relationships with their professors and stay in touch long after they have graduated; some even offer to come back to Georgetown to guest lecture or talk about their careers with current students. Travis Bias ’04 took things one step further when he told Professor of Biology Maria Cuevas that he would be happy to speak to her class in 2016. Cuevas was teaching in London as part of Southwestern’s London Program at the time.

“Travis put together a panel of doctors and visited my class, where we discussed the differences in health care systems between the United States and the United Kingdom,” Cuevas says. “It was phenomenal! This is the generous and kind person Travis is.” 

To be fair, Bias was already planning to be in London when he made his thoughtful offer. He was in the middle of an international teaching opportunity like no other. He taught for over a year in East Africa, first for four months at Kabarak University in Kenya and then for eight months at Busitema University in Uganda through the Global Health Service Partnership, a collaboration between the Peace Corps, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and Seed Global Health. The experiences in these low-income areas cemented Bias’s goal to drive system-level change toward health and equity through policy. 

Esther M. Johnston, director of medicine at Seed Global Health, met Bias when he was interviewing for the Global Health Service Partnership position. “Though he is a very strong clinician and educator, one of the things that made him so unique was his understanding of the complex interplay between government, society, and health, and the need to think more distally, more upstream, to truly create positive systemic change. He worked with his colleagues at the university not just to provide high-quality clinical education, but also to elevate conversations about leadership and good governance,” Johnston says.

A biology major and political science minor at Southwestern, Bias served as social chair of Pi Kappa Alpha, was a member of the University Committee on Discipline, and played on the men’s tennis team, earning all-conference honors his senior year. He received his D.O. from the University of North Texas Health Science Center Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine and his M.P.H. from the George Washington University. He also earned a diploma in tropical medicine and hygiene from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Today, Bias is a family medicine physician in Oakland, California, and clinical transformation consultant at 3M. He has lectured at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health and the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health and written articles for several publications. He also maintains a personal blog. He volunteers as a member of Human Rights Watch’s San Francisco Committee and as an advisor to Bulamu Healthcare, which provides medical care to rural families in Uganda.

“Travis has this drive to always do more, to be better, and to stay engaged,” says his partner, Ashley Ramirez. “At times he reminds me of the Energizer Bunny that just keeps going and going and going—especially after he has his double shot cappuccino. Travis is a fully engaged citizen in an interconnected world that is constantly learning and growing, always focused on how he can contribute and help improve the lives of other humans on this planet.” 

“Travis has truly exemplified what it means to be a humanitarian and represented Southwestern well throughout the world,” says Christopher Morgan ’04.

For his contributions to global health and the well-being of humanity, the Southwestern University Alumni Association is proud to honor Travis Bias with the Distinguished Humanitarian Award.