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Meghan Work, M.P.H., Ph.D., Brings Years of Epidemiology Experience to the SHSP

Dr. Work’s first encounter with epidemiology unexpectedly led to her discovering her passion for the field.

January 31, 2022
Meghan Work, M.P.H., Ph.D.

Dr. Work was not initially on an epidemiology track when she began to pursue her Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, but after one required introductory course in the field, she made the decision to change course.

“[Epidemiology] is one of the underpinning sciences of public health,” Dr. Work said. “I had always been a science-oriented person but didn’t want to work in laboratory. I also liked it that was health-oriented yet also appealed to my quantitative side.”

A laboratory was not where Dr. Work saw herself, but she did know she wanted to be involved in public health. She began studying epidemiology at a time when the field was not in the national spotlight and taught an introductory course—much like the one that piqued her interest —at Montclair State University in New Jersey, as an adjunct professor when students were uncertain about what the class would entail. Now, as the public has become more familiar with the field due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she finds it interesting to see the contrast in how popular the field has become. “It was interesting how it exploded. Epidemiologists were on every news show. Before, it was not a field most people had exposure to,” Dr. Work said.

Dr. Work spent the majority of the past eight years working for the pharmaceutical company, Bayer, where she focused on cancer epidemiology, research, and contributed to several reports about drugs in development and on the market for patients with cancer. Even though she enjoyed her job in industry, she frequently kept an eye out for a full-time faculty appointment in academia to fulfill her joy of teaching others.

Her goal as a professor at Montclair State University was to break down epidemiology in a way that seemed less ominous to students, who she said mostly took the course as a requirement. “What I enjoyed the most is if I could make the topic of epidemiology interesting, not scary,” Dr. Work said. “It was fulfilling if at the end of the semester if students said that I made the topic easy or that they were happy they took the course.”

Now, after starting her first full-time faculty appointment at NYMC on January 25, Dr. Work will continue to use her passion for epidemiology to teach aspiring public health professionals about the field and how it plays a role daily life. She has enjoyed her transition as part of the faculty. “The faculty all seem very dedicated,” she said. “There’s a heavy focus on teaching and discussing tools for the most effective teaching methods.”

"We share Dr. Work’s excitement about the field of epidemiology, which leverages data to better comprehend all manner of human endeavors, from pharmaceuticals to public policies. We are delighted to welcome her to the public health faculty in the School of Health Sciences and Practice," said Robert W. Amler, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the School of Health Sciences and Practice and vice president for government affairs.

Although she is still new to the NYMC community, Dr. Work has embraced the College’s environment and collective mindset and looks forward to being in front of public health students to share her knowledge and experience.

“It’s great being part of a medical school and medical community. Working in industry, I did not really have the opportunity to feel like part of a scientific community. I like the intimacy of that at NYMC,” Dr. Work said.