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  Learn how our PhD and Masters graduates are MAKING DIFFERENCES around the world



Mike Thompson
PhD in Epidemiology 2015

I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Section of Health Services Research and Quality in the Department of Cardiac Surgery, University of Michigan Medical School.  My research focuses on evaluating the intended and unintended effects of healthy policy, health system redesign, and changes in clinical practice on quality of care and outcomes.  I frequently use epidemiologic and statistical methods to analyze large administrative and clinical databases in an array of clinical contexts, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, hospital readmissions, and hospital-acquired conditions. 

My experiences as a doctoral student in the MSU Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics laid the foundation for my success.  The extensive training in epidemiologic and statistical methods provided me with a valuable set of tools to conduct rigorous health services research.  Additionally, the departmental emphasis on developing scientific and grant writing skills have enabled me to communicate my research effectively, and have already produced several high-impact publications.  Above all, the thoughtful and personal mentoring I received from faculty in the department aided in developing my career trajectory, and molded me into a successful independent investigator.

My current job title is Assistant Professor of Biostatistics, at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth, Texas and what I like most in academia is the freedom to pursue research topics that I’m interested in.

The quantitative-focus and research-focus aspects of the Epidemiology/Biostatistics program at MSU helped me get this job. The program provided a wide choiceof biostats classes which I think is very unique. I benefit a lot from those biostatistics classes since my research area is statistical genetics and genetic epidemiology. The methodological training such as causal inference and research methods in epi helped me developed a deep understanding in design and methods used in population based study. The Epi training in different specific chronic diseases also helped a lot when I communicate with collaborators.  

Matt Francis
PhD in Epidemiology 2014

What I like most about my job is working across the globe to ensure the safety of consumer products and the challenge of working in a regulated space. At P&G I have the opportunity to apply my skills as an Epidemiologist to pharmacovigilance of consumer products, OTC medicines and medical devices. By far, the breadth of experience that I received at MSU helped me land not only a CSTE/CDC fellowship, but a Pharmacoepidemiologist position at one of the largest consumer product companies in the world.

During my time at MSU, I had the opportunity to work on perinatal studies, infectious disease studies, maternal smoking cessation, environmental toxicology and cancer research. The faculty at MSU pushed me to function as an expert in these fields and gave me the help and guidance needed to succeed. One of the most important parts of my Epi training was the breadth of statistical experience, which allowed me to step into key roles and not only manage the study design aspect of my work, but deliver new statistical models and vantage points while working closely with my statistical colleagues.

The professors foster an independent thought process by pushing the science of Epidemiology further while having their students focus on the discipline of the science, and not just its application. I remain close to various professors I worked with during my graduate career and lean on them for advice and guidance as I navigate my way through being a PhD level Epidemiologist.

I am currently a research fellow at the Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center, Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.*  I am involved in many epidemiologic research projects at various stages in the areas of cancer epidemiology, chronic disease epidemiology, and women’s health. The training I received from MSU epidemiology in epidemiologic methods, data management for large datasets, statistical analysis, and grant writing has helped me to be successful in my current position.

As a student at MSU in the department of epidemiology, I had the opportunity to obtain unique training and research experiences, tailored to my research interests and future professional goals. I was a trainee in a fellowship program, which allowed me to pursue my own research agenda, under the mentorship of world-renowned faculty, and also participate in many applied training experiences in the conduct of epidemiologic research, which helped me to develop into a successful research scientist and obtain a research position at an academic institution. MSU faculty provide students the opportunity to participate on multiple research projects, and both encourage and provide support for participation in scientific conferences and specialized competitive training experiences. MSU faculty are committed to helping students find employment after graduation.

* Postdoctoral Fellow of the Year (2011), Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Vanderbilt University

I lead the newly formed Perinatal Epidemiology Unit within the Perinatology Research Branch (NICHD/NIH) and also serve as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Wayne State University School of Medicine. My position involves collaborating with perinatologists to conduct clinical research with the goal of developing diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive strategies to reduce adverse pregnancy outcome, infant mortality and handicap. I also provide training on perinatal epidemiology to physicians, scientists and other health care professionals involved in research/fellowship at the Perinatology Research Branch whose aim is to improve the health care of mothers and their children.

Education and profound mentorship provided at MSU gave me the opportunity to learn from NICHD T-32 Perinatal Epidemiology Training Program faculty on campus, achieve participation in the NICHD/CIHR Summer Institute in Reproductive and Perinatal Epidemiology, and lead Michigan’s Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology section while pursuing my masters and doctoral degrees in epidemiology.

Together, the MSU experience provided me an advanced understanding of the historical context of epidemiology, the important nuances of study design and analysis, and the critical role epidemiology plays in shaping public health. The department also provided ‘hands-on’ experience in SAS programming, multiple opportunities to participate in large research initiatives, and its faculty and seminar program in addition to conference sponsorship provided exposure to a wide range of international experts focused on groundbreaking applications of epidemiology in perinatal health.

I truly can’t emphasize enough my appreciation for the education/mentorship I received at MSU and how it has prepared me to pursue a meaningful career in perinatal epidemiology.

I am currently a research scientist / biostatistician at the International Clinical Research Center, University of Washington.

I mainly work on analysis using data from a multi-center HIV prevention trial. I am also participating in a PEPFAR study testing the feasibility of home-based HIV counseling and testing using a novel instrument for on-site data-entry in South Africa.

My training in Epidemiology is absolutely the key for me to get my job at UW. It provides both epi knowledge and field work experience. My current job is heavily involved in clinical trials. Because I worked on a clinical trial during my doctoral program, this experience was greatly valued and asked about during my interview. I believe this experience was the key for me to get this job.

 Another significant part is that all epi professors are devoted to helping students get a job, which is very important and helpful!

Epi training is fundamental. Although I am in a different research field now, the epi training I received helps me to understand study designs, analysis approaches, etc. The SAS programming skills I learned through my PhD program also are very critical in my daily work.

I am an EIS officer at the CDC, assigned to the Chronic Viral Diseases Branch in Atlanta, Georgia. I work on research related to human papillomavirus and cervical cancer and precancers. I also participate in field investigations and public health emergency response activities.

My training in epidemiology and biostatistics at MSU gave me a solid methodologic foundation that has opened doors to diverse opportunities at the CDC. Because of my skills in data management and survival analysis, I was able to travel to Kenya to work on a study of adult mortality in a high HIV prevalence area. Because I had training in survey design, I was chosen to lead a field investigation and implement a household survey after a water shortage in rural Alabama; this resulted in new CDC recommendations for water emergency preparedness.

The many group projects and thoughtful discussions with peers throughout my MS and PhD training were great preparation for the teamwork necessary when working with colleagues from many disciplines and backgrounds across a public health agency.

Masters in EPIDEMIOLOGY Alumni

Jean Kerver
MSU in Epidemiology 2010

I am currently an assistant professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Michigan State University, but located in Traverse City, Michigan.

My position is part of the MSU College of Human Medicine’s attempt to form a scientific safety net across the state. We now have 5 faculty members located at 3 of our smaller medical campuses, and together with all of the other faculty in East Lansing, Flint, and Grand Rapids, we are forming a statewide research network.

My training is in nutrition and epidemiology and my focus is on the perinatal period. Without my training in epidemiology, I would not have had the opportunity to be part of this large and important epidemiologic study. I work closely with renowned scientists within Michigan and across the country. Because I am able to understand the nuances in study design and operations, I will continue to pursue similar activities in the future.

I am currently an epidemiologist and lecturer with the Faculty of Public Health at Thammasat University (TU), Thailand. My work focuses on risk assessment in Thai communities exposed to air pollution resulting from emissions from industrial estates and heavy traffic. My primary project duties include data analysis and manuscript preparation. The research group coordinates activities with stakeholder initiatives such as the Public health and Air Pollution in Asia (PAPA) and Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities (CAI-Asia) which together work with the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. We also work with the Thailand Environmental Institute when performing outreach for local communities.

Getting this rewarding and satisfying job is a direct result of my going through MSU Epi. Epi training fostered a sense of competence, confidence and creativity in how I practice research. For instance, with the data from the Air Pollution project, I started with a search for an optimal analytical approach that pointed the way toward use of disease mapping using Generalized Additive Models (an approach with which I had no previous experience). Using these models has produced cluster maps adjusted for covariates that have proven fantastically useful for the identification of clusters, modeling dose-response relationships, and risk characterization while communicating actionable information to stakeholders in the study setting.

I am a biostatistician at National Institute of Mental Health working on large epidemiological data with complex sampling design.

MSU Epi provided me with a high-quality education and the tools I needed to succeed and grow. Introduction of Epi, causal inference, and statistical courses gave me knowledge and techniques in critical thinking and appropriately use of statistical methods. My problem solving skills in data management and ability of conducting statistical analyses were greatly enhanced by working with the fisheater project data for my Epi thesis.

As a foreign student with cultural shock and language barrier, I was especially grateful for the study environment that the loving and caring EPI faculty and staff provided.

I am currently an Instructor of Medicine/Epidemiologist at the Cardiovascular Research Institute of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. My main research interest is in CVD Outcome studies using health care claim data.

I started CVD epidemiology research when I was a MSU Epi graduate student participating in the MASCOTS study. I was able to continue in this field owing to the solid training I received from MSU. It is not only the knowledge I acquired but also the hands-on experience that prepared us well for Epi jobs on the market. Epi courses such as Introductory Epi, Causal Inference, and CVD Epi taught me how to correctly design and critically review epidemiology studies, while statistical and SAS courses provided me everyday skills I need to dissect huge amount of data I used for my research.

My words aren’t enough to express my appreciations to the caring epi professors and staff, to the nurturing environment of the Epidemiology department, and to the continuing support I received from my mentors and friends from MSU.

Masters in BIOSTATISTICS Alumni

Shyamali Mukerjee
MS in Biostatistics 2017

I graduated in May 2017 with my Master’s degree in Biostatistics, and got hired with the Michigan Public Health Institute as an affiliate employee with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in August 2017. I am a Health Systems Analyst, where I collaborate with various divisions at MDHHS to analyze Medicaid claims for disease surveillance. It’s a very fascinating job, because I get to work with large volumes of data and answer all sorts of questions related to patient quality of care and measure disease distributions.

I believe extensive training in statistical programming from the Biostatistics courses offered at MSU helped me hone my analytical thinking skills when it comes to programming. Because of the training, I was able to pick up new programming languages at work with ease. Additionally, it helped having a wonderful mentor who would guide me on improving programming and statistical thinking skills through project involvement. The epidemiology classes offered at MSU also helped me think about biostatistics problems from an epidemiological perspective.

I currently work as a Biostatistician at the Oakland University William Beaumont (OUWB) School of Medicine based in Metro Detroit. I work in a consulting role, primarily assisting all medical students with a required four-year longitudinal research project. I also assist other investigators on their research projects. The primary bulk of my work is statistical analysis; however, I also work on power/sample size calculations, data analysis plans, and student questions regarding any statistics-related topics.

There are many skills that I learned during my time at MSU that help tremendously in the workplace after graduation. The wide variety of statistical analysis methods and the willingness of the faculty to present the most contemporary methods in clear, concise way help students to learn a wide variety of statistical methods. I have found my knowledge of statistics from MSU faculty prepared me for the workforce.

The Biostatistics faculty expose students to a wide variety of software packages, including SAS, Stata, and R. Being exposed to various software packages has allowed me to be more versatile in the workplace and able to approach problems in more than one way. Employers look for graduates who are well-versed in more than one software package.

The integration of Epidemiology classes and a course in Statistical Consulting helped train me well for the modern-day workforce as a consulting Biostatistician. These courses expose students to a variety of terms, which allow graduates to speak directly to collaborators who have a clinical and non-statistics educational background.

Finally, there is a comradery and a great culture amongst the students and faculty in the MSU Biostatistics program. This close comradery is great because it allows for students to build a good career network before graduation and values teamwork to help solve problems.

I am currently a program analyst at Pharmaceutical Product Development (PPD), Wilmington, NC. PPD is a global contract research organization (CRO), which provides discovery, development, and post-approval services, as well as compound partnering programs. My daily work mainly focuses on project management, statistical analysis, and programming involved with Phase I – Phase IV of clinical trial research from clients.

I was fortunate to be one of the first groups of students who graduated from the master program of biostatistics at MSU. The program provided me a solid foundation for my career. In the two years of study at MSU, I had access to all the essential courses for my work. This includes from probabilities and hypothesis tests to observational studies, longitudinal studies, survival analysis and clinical trials. More importantly, and also what makes the MSU biostat program special, is that I had the opportunity to gain practical skills through working closely with professors with different backgrounds on real data analysis. The experience provided me proficiency in statistical programming and thinking, which gave me an advantage in securing a job.

I still miss life in Michigan State. Every professor was knowledgeable and helpful. They care about each student, and they work hard to ensure that each student is successful. I am thankful for the knowledge and skill that I learned from them.

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