What attracted you to the health metrics field?
It was through the lens of biology that I first fell in love with health and medicine. My belief in the power of basic science to fuel impactful change led me to several formative research experiences in the lab. When I started college, I was still fixated on this idea, but my experiences as an undergraduate ultimately reshaped the lens through which I understood health. The liberal arts environment showed me that by engaging with issues in interdisciplinary ways, we could often develop more creative, more meaningful solutions. In line with this perspective, in addition to studying neuroscience, I took courses in health economics, race economics, and mental health policy. These varying perspectives gave me the framework to understand that the interplay of metrics, public policy, and science collectively contributed to the “health machine.”
As I continued with research in college, I began to question the broader implications of my work through this new lens. How are new treatments implemented on a global level? Why is it that many global health issues can be prevented and treated with our current tools, yet so many people still suffer? I began to see that that the solutions to these problems do not exist solely within test tubes, but they also require better understanding of the health system as a whole – only then will the development of newer treatments have the broadest and most meaningful impact. I saw the field of health metrics as a rapidly developing discipline that could play a key role in this understanding and immediately knew that it was something I wanted to take part in.
What work are you doing at IHME?
I am working on the covariates research team. Covariates, which include anything from cigarette use to annual inches of rainfall, are indicators of key aspects of health and thus play a role in several different projects across IHME. These measures are crucial for estimating and predicting health indicators within and across countries and ultimately contribute to our understanding of the pathways of disease.
The work plays a key role in the modeling process of the Global Burden of Disease study, but it also lends itself to the study of several covariates at an individual level. For example, I am working on the Health Systems Access project, which seeks to better understand the state of immunization and maternal care coverage across counties. This information can be used as a tool to better guide relevant policies that will impact health at the individual level.
How do you think your experience at IHME will contribute to your future work?
I wish to develop the theoretical basis and quantitative skills to contribute to our understanding of the health system and its key issues, and IHME is the perfect environment to help me accomplish this. The Post-Bachelor Fellowship is an opportunity to learn and integrate my interests in medicine, metrics, and policy alongside peers and mentors from various backgrounds. I ultimately wish to carry the tools and perspectives I develop at IHME as I pursue medical school, so that I will one day, as a doctor, be better equipped to address the root causes of disease.
The GBD 2015 Obesity Collaborators. Health effects of overweight and obesity in 195 countries over 25 years. New England Journal of Medicine. 12 Jun 2017. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1614362
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GBD 2015 Risk Factors Collaborators. Global, regional, and national comparative risk assessment of 79 behavioral, environmental and occupational, and metabolic risks or clusters of risks, 1990–2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. The Lancet. 2016 Oct 7; 388:1659–1724.
GBD 2015 DALYs and HALE Collaborators. Global, regional, and national disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) for 315 diseases and injuries and healthy life expectancy (HALE), 1990–2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. The Lancet. 2016 Oct 7; 388:1603–1658.
GBD 2015 Maternal Mortality Collaborators. Global, regional, and national levels of maternal mortality, 1990–2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. The Lancet. 2016 Oct 7; 388:1775–1812.
GBD 2015 Mortality and Causes of Death Collaborators. Global, regional, and national life expectancy, all-cause mortality, and cause-specific mortality for 249 causes of death, 1980–2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. The Lancet. 2016 Oct 7; 388:1459–1544.
GBD 2015 Child Mortality Collaborators. Global, regional, national, and selected subnational levels of stillbirths, neonatal, infant, and under-5 mortality, 1980–2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. The Lancet. 2016 Oct 7; 388:1725–1774.
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*Authors listed alphabetically
Haakenstad A, Birger M, Singh L, Liu P, Lim S, Ng M, Dieleman JL. Vaccine assistance to low- and middle-income countries increased to $3.6 billion in 2014. Health Affairs. 2016 Feb 8.