What attracted you to the health metrics field?
I’ve been interested in research for most of my life. During my undergraduate studies, I learned an incredible amount through working in two wet labs performing systems biology and biochemistry research. Although I enjoyed the work, after those experiences I knew that I wanted to move into a field with a larger scope and faster timeline. When I heard about IHME and its annual Global Burden of Disease study, the impact of the research and the sheer scale of the work being done impressed me. I felt that the field of health metrics was the right fit for me; it would allow me to put the computational and quantitative skills I developed in undergrad to work and to build to new skills along the way.
What work are you doing at IHME?
I work on the Disease Estimation team for the Global Burden of Disease study (GBD) modeling both the fatal and nonfatal side of sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) excluding HIV; rheumatoid arthritis; and other musculoskeletal disorders. Estimating STIs in particular is tricky due to the large variance in data quality, lack of population-representative studies, and the tendency for underreporting in administrative notifications of new cases of disease. One of my main focuses during this round of the GBD has been improving our estimation process for congenital syphilis, which has the highest health burden of all of the STIs excluding HIV.
How do you think your experience at IHME will contribute to your future work?
I believe IHME is one of the best places I could have come to straight out of undergrad. Few places would give fresh college graduates the amount of responsibility IHME gives to its Post-Bachelor Fellows. It’s challenging but a great opportunity to learn and to grow while being surrounded by the many intelligent individuals working here who are passionate about health metrics. While I am not sure where I’ll end up after my time here, I am confident that IHME will help me to improve my quantitative skills, critical thinking, and knowledge of the field of public health.