NYMC's Elizabeth D. Drugge, Ph.D., M.P.H. ’12 Marks World Field Epidemiology Day
September 7, 2021 marks the first year of World Field Epidemiology Day to highlight the importance of epidemiologists amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elizabeth D. Drugge, Ph.D., M.P.H. ’12, assistant professor of epidemiology and adjunct professor of pharmacology, trained to be an epidemiologist long before the term became commonplace amongst the media and the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, epidemiology is at the forefront of the national public health conversation.
Dr. Drugge earned her Ph.D. in pharmacology from Columbia University in 1985 but her motivation for learning did not stop there. She was fueled by her interest in research and how it impacts clinical studies leading her to obtain a Master of Public Health in epidemiology from NYMC in 2012.
For World Field Epidemiology Day, Dr. Drugge shares her involvement in research projects and the importance of the field.
What inspired you to pursue a M.P.H. in epidemiology?
I have always been interested in research that drives clinical decisions and after training in basic medical sciences, specifically pharmacology, I realized that a foundation in epidemiology would give me the best preparation to evaluate research on which clinical decisions rely.
What is your favorite part about being an epidemiologist?
Epidemiology requires consideration of how biological pathways, social processes and behavioral patterns interact to affect public health. Consequently, there are endless ways epidemiology is used to analyze and interpret health phenomena. One of my favorite aspects is the creativity involved in forming a research question, designing a study, seeing how the risk factors and outcomes interact and then seeing how the results support the research question.
How do you think the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of epidemiology?
COVID-19 has brought several of the concepts that were relatively unfamiliar prior to the outbreak to the spotlight. Suddenly, disease transmission, surveillance, herd immunity and measures of morbidity and mortality are familiar and easier to explain in the context of COVID-19.
Do you have a favorite study you have been a part of relating to epidemiology?
I’m a curious person, so choosing one area is not easy since each project tends to become my current favorite. Studying regulatory mechanisms contributing to hypertension using samples from the original DASH-Sodium trial has been particularly interesting because we are examining basic science results in the context of a clinical study.
What would you say to someone who is considering getting a degree in epidemiology?
Absolutely go for it. As I say to all students who take the introduction to epidemiology course with me, they will forever be a more sophisticated consumer of healthcare information and resource for others. The concepts apply to every field and once mastered provide the path to critical appraisal of the evidence.
When you’re not working or teaching, what are your hobbies?
I love technology, research, and statistics and although I use it for work, I consider exploring and learning a hobby. When I can pull myself away, I love spending time with family, friends, and of course, my pets. I play classical piano and love live performance