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Victor  Lopez-Carmen

Victor Lopez-Carmen

Award-Winning Writer & Indigenous Health Advocate

Victor Lopez-Carmen

Award-Winning Writer & Indigenous Health Advocate


Victor A. Lopez-Carmen, an enrolled member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe and also from the Yaqui Nation, had ancestral strength instilled in him from the very beginning of life. After receiving his traditional name and baptism as a baby on the Pascua Yaqui Reservation, he attended traditional ceremonies every year of his life, and remains an active cultural participant in his communities today. In 2022, he became the first documented Native American to make the Forbes 30 under 30 list in the Healthcare category. In 2024, he will make history by becoming the first enrolled member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe to graduate from an Ivy League university, and the first male-identifying member to become a physician.

After growing up poor, Victor navigated hardships that come with being an Indigenous young person in America, going on to pursue a path that led to him becoming a nationally-recognized thought-leader in Indigenous health advocacy. His path to medicine was in large part inspired by an experience he had in childhood. In the 7th grade, while visiting his Yaqui family in rural Mexico, he was severely burned by fireworks, suffering third-degree burns that required emergent surgery. Yet, medical care was not available in the remote villages of Mexico, so his family drove him as quickly as they could across the border to Arizona, where he underwent two skin-graft surgeries and was hospitalized for a month. This experience made Victor realize first-hand the consequences of healthcare inaccessibility in Indigenous communities and inspired him to try to do something about it.

Today, Victor is a graduating MD student at Harvard Medical School (HMS). Next year, he will be a resident physician in pediatrics at the University of Washington, Seattle Children’s Hospital-Alaska Track. He also earned his Master of Public Health on a Fulbright Scholarship from Western Sydney University, where he received an honorary fellowship, and his Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences and Chemistry with Magna Cum Laude honors from Ithaca College.

Prior to medical school, he was elected Co-Chair of the UN Global Indigenous Youth Caucus, the official caucus representing Indigenous youth in international fora. After serving two terms, he continues to advocate for Indigenous health rights across the UN system, including most recently at COP 28. In 2019, he was a clerk and fellow for the U.S. House of Representatives, Natural Resources Committee, where he organized legislative hearings on violence against Indigenous women and Indigenous mental health in boarding schools. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Victor galvanized support to raise over $20,000 for Indigenous communities globally, and organized UN webinars to promote awareness around their struggles. Noticing that Indigenous languages were left out of mainstream COVID-19 health literacy efforts, he brought together faculty, medical students, and Indigenous community leaders from over 35 countries to create accurate COVID-19 information in over 40 global Indigenous languages. Each community translator was compensated through grants for their work. This transformative organization, aptly called Translations for our Nations, was profiled in the Boston Globe, NPR, Global News Canada, and Corriere Della Sera. Soon after, he was nominated by HMS faculty and appointed by former Mayor Marty Walsh to represent Indigenous interests on Boston’s COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force and was also nominated by U.S. Congressman Raul Ruiz to the US Office of the Vice-President’s White House Health Inequities Roundtable Leaders group.

Victor also helps bring Indigenous health disparities to the forefront of public discourse. He has given numerous talks on Indigenous rights and health at the likes of Ralph Lauren and TED, and is an Executive Producer for the new documentary showing in AMC Theatres, Bad River, narrated by Edward Norton and Quannah Chasinghorse, Directed by Mary Mazzio (A Most Beautiful Thing, I am Jane Doe), and produced by Grant Hill (Atlanta Hawks) and Allison Abner (Narcos, West Wing). In 2023, he was selected as a Bristol Myers Squibb scholar to attend and speak at the One Young World Summit in Belfast, Ireland. His contributions also include five published books, academic publications, and features in the BBC, Boston Globe, Teen Vogue, ABC News, Indian Country Today, and the UN News Centre. Currently, he is a paid health equity, climate health, and representation Contributor for Forbes Magazine.

For his work, he has received numerous honors including being named a Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar, Boren Scholar, Udall Scholar, and a "Native American 40 under 40" honoree. Most recently, Victor was inducted into one of Harvard Medical School's oldest social and academic clubs, The Aesculapian Club, and one of Boston’s most exclusive social clubs, The Quin’ House. Victor’s remarkable journey from being a young Indigenous child navigating poverty and hardship to becoming an international thought-leader on Indigenous rights and health is largely due to the support of his family, friends, and communities, as well as the sacrifices of his ancestors. After residency, he plans to utilize his immense privilege as a physician to galvanize investment in higher quality healthcare, pipeline programs, public health initiatives, and equitable Indigenous health policies on local, national, and international levels. Through grounded clinical work, education, cultural awareness, and community action, he will continue to dedicate himself to this vision and make his ancestors proud.

Speaker Videos

The Power of Indigenous Intergenerational Intelligence | Victor A. Lopez-Carmen | TEDxParramatta

Indigenous Peoples Have Answers to the Climate Crisis

Equality for Indigenous Docs Will Take 100 Years

Bringing health equity to Indian Country

Speech Topics

Indigenous Health Equity: Addressing the Gaps in Access, Representation & Care

This talk delves into the systemic barriers and disparities faced by Indigenous Peoples in accessing quality healthcare and representation in medicine. Drawing from personal anecdotes and insights gained through advocacy work, Victor highlights the urgent need for equitable healthcare policies and equitable representation. By sharing stories of resilience and resistance from Indigenous communities, he underscores the importance of amplifying Indigenous voices in healthcare decision-making processes. As an Indigenous healthcare advocate with firsthand experience navigating healthcare inequalities, his perspective sheds light on the lived realities of Indigenous peoples and offers innovative solutions for improving health outcomes.

Cultural Competency in Healthcare: Embracing Indigenous Perspectives

Explore the significance of cultural competency in healthcare delivery, particularly concerning Indigenous patients. This presentation shares strategies for healthcare professionals to respectfully engage with Indigenous cultures and traditions while providing care. Through personal stories and experiences, Victor illustrates the impact of culturally competent care on patient outcomes and satisfaction. By drawing from his own cultural background and navigating the healthcare system as an Indigenous individual, he offers firsthand insights into the importance of culturally sensitive care.

Advocating for Indigenous Health Rights: A Call to Action

Join the fight for Indigenous health rights. Through frontline stories of Indigenous Peoples advocating for their rights to health, Victor highlights the urgent need for policy changes and systemic reforms. By sharing insights from grassroots organizing and advocacy efforts, he demonstrates the power of collective action in driving positive change. As a prominent Indigenous health advocate with a track record of effecting change on national and international levels, his perspective brings firsthand knowledge of the challenges and opportunities in advocating for Indigenous health rights.

COVID-19 & Indigenous Communities: Lessons Learned & Paths Forward

Examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Indigenous Peoples and explore lessons learned for future pandemic preparedness and response efforts. By highlighting the intersection of pandemic-related challenges with existing structural-based Indigenous health disparities, Victor underscores the importance of inclusive and culturally responsive public health strategies. His perspective offers valuable insights into addressing pandemic-related challenges in Indigenous contexts, grounded in real-world experience.

Intersectionality in Indigenous Health: Addressing the Complexities

This presentation explores the intersection of Indigenous identity with other social determinants of health, such as gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and geography. By examining the nuanced ways in which multiple forms of oppression impact Indigenous health outcomes, Victor underscores the need for holistic approaches to healthcare. Through personal anecdotes and insights, he offers practical strategies for advancing health equity through an intersectional lens. His perspective, informed by a deep understanding of intersectionality and its impact on health, brings nuance and depth to discussions on this critical topic.

Indigenous Health & Climate Change: Navigating Intersections for Resilience

Explore the complex relationship between Indigenous health and climate change in this thought-provoking presentation. He delves into how environmental degradation, loss of traditional lands, and changes in weather patterns impact Indigenous Peoples' health and well-being. By sharing stories of adaptation and resilience, he highlights the innovative strategies Indigenous peoples are employing to mitigate the health effects of climate change. He offers insights into the importance of centering Indigenous knowledge and leadership in climate resilience efforts to address the intertwined challenges of Indigenous health and environmental sustainability.

Indigenous Languages & Health: Revitalizing Culture for Well-Being

This presentation explores the vital role of Indigenous languages in promoting health and well-being within Indigenous communities. Victor discusses how language revitalization efforts contribute to cultural resilience and improved health outcomes by fostering a sense of identity, belonging, and connection to traditional knowledge. By centering Indigenous perspectives and voices, this talk offers insights into the transformative power of language revitalization for Indigenous health.

Indigenous Youth Health: Empowering the Next Generation

Join Victor in exploring the unique health challenges facing Indigenous youth and the innovative approaches being undertaken to promote their well-being. Through personal anecdotes from his life growing up as an Indigenous young person, he sheds light on the social, cultural, and systemic factors that impact Indigenous youth health outcomes. This presentation also offers practical strategies for empowering Indigenous youth to become advocates for their own health and agents of positive change within their communities.

UN Mechanisms & Indigenous Health: Navigating Pathways to Equity

Navigate the complex landscape of UN mechanisms and their interaction with Indigenous health in this informative presentation. Victor provides an overview of key UN frameworks, such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and discusses their relevance to Indigenous health rights and equity. Drawing from his experiences advocating across the UN, he offers insights into the opportunities and challenges of engaging with UN mechanisms to advance Indigenous health priorities. This talk provides a roadmap for effective advocacy and collaboration in addressing Indigenous health disparities on a global scale.