Meet Our Scholars
Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
Janssen Infectious Diseases Scholar
Omar Salman was born in Kuwait to two Palestinian refugees. Due to violence in the region, he became a refugee himself when his family fled the Gulf War. He came to the U.S. at age 8 and lived in Tennessee, where he faced a great deal of stigma as a gay Muslim immigrant in the South. Omar pursued a career in medicine and eventually studied biomedical engineering at Vanderbilt University. During this time, he was outed and experienced a period of homelessness until eventually being connected with resources to regain his footing. After this experience, Omar became passionate about minority and LGBTQ+ health. He spent a summer in Sierra Leone working with a program for HIV patients. He then founded and facilitated a support group for HIV-positive LGBTQ+ men of color at a health center in Massachusetts. In medical school, he became Vice Chair of LGBTQ+ Issues for the American Medical Association. In this role, Omar wrote a resolution to end the discriminatory deferral period for MSM blood donors that led the AMA to oppose the ban and write the FDA to reconsider the policy. He also facilitated sexual health courses for LGBTQ+ teens, set up a health fair and screenings at Pride, created and led LGBTQ+ provider competency workshops for students and providers, and launched a mentoring program for medical students to mentor ELL students in the region. He also currently serves as an Associate Director for the MSV Foundation, a philanthropic organization for Virginia’s medical society and conducts research on medical devices for children with neuromotor impairments such as cerebral palsy. When he is not studying, Omar enjoys distance running, vegan cooking and baking, and volunteering with kids. Omar hopes to eventually work in pediatrics and advocacy to address health disparities faced by LGBTQ+ immigrants and people of color.