What attracted you to the health metrics field?
My interest in health metrics took a somewhat circuitous route, beginning with an interest in environmental metrics. I worked at an energy efficiency partnership on a team dedicated to “big data,” aggregating, evaluating, and measuring these data to inform energy, economic, and environmental policies. The questions that came up in this work – how to measure cost-effectiveness, how to make the data comparable, and how to make the qualitative quantitative – were complex puzzles that seemed fascinating to solve.
Before this summer internship, I took an environmental justice class that opened my eyes to the health consequences of social, political, and economic issues. It wasn’t until after the internship, however, that I took a more active interest in public health. I studied health economics and took several political science courses through which I became more and more engaged with how public health policies are made.
During my senior year, I remained invested in the metrics and “big data” aspects of energy efficiency, but realized that I really wanted to pursue public health. It wasn’t until I came across IHME, however, that I recognized how the public health field was working to answer the same fascinating questions I’d encountered with energy efficiency. Within the health metrics field, I could not only take on both interests, but I could also actively engage with the quantitative data that are necessary for guiding and implementing more effective public health policies.
What work are you doing at IHME?
At IHME, I am a part of the cost-effectiveness team. We are finishing up a model that evaluates the cost-effectiveness of various guidelines for screening and treatment of hypertension in Kenya. In the long run, we will be working up to a microsimulation model that could inform policymakers of the most cost-effective interventions for several diseases, given the country’s disease burden and financial constraints.
How do you think your experience at IHME will contribute to your future work?
While not entirely certain about where I will be at the end of this fellowship, I hope to continue pursuing the health metrics research that drives better decision-making regarding health. The research and analytical skills I develop at IHME, and specifically within the cost-effectiveness team, will be invaluable for moving in this direction, as more countries begin to rely on evidence-based policymaking. The overall foundation provided by IHME – one based on quantitative research, rigorous methodologies, and critical thinking – opens the door to many opportunities, and regardless of which one I choose, I’m sure that I’ll be prepared for the challenge.