Alum’s Spanish flu research shows connections with COVID-19

CWRU alum Tarun Jella

In 2017, Case Western Reserve University student Tarun Jella completed a capstone research project about Cleveland’s response to the Spanish flu.

His deep dive into the archives describes social distancing 1918-style: schools closing, movie theaters shutting down and public service announcements that stressed the importance of hand washing—an “eerily similar situation” to today’s COVID-19 response, in the words of CWRU history professor John Grabowski.

Read the news article describing Tarun's research and its relevance today.

Tarun majored in history at CWRU and is now an MD candidate at CWRU’s School of Medicine. His current research investigates racial disparities, the role of the safety net and fiscal efficiency within the U.S. health care system.

“I would never have been able to pursue this type of work without my undergraduate coursework focused on the use of archives, medical history [and] critiques of capitalism,” he says.

Tarun’s work is the kind of thing CWRU is famous for: connecting disciplines, discovering timeless truths and, always, staying relevant.