Andrew Petrone, Brigham and Women's Hospital

Andrew Petrone, MPH graduate 2012

"...I realized that an MPH with a concentration in epidemiology and biostatistics could combine public health with my propensity for mathematics, and allow me to follow my passion..."

Statistical Programmer/Analyst
Brigham and Women's Hospital, Division of Aging
BA/MPH combined degree program, 2012
MPH concentration Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Tell us about your current job.
As a statistical programmer and analyst in the Division of Aging at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, I write code to create datasets and analyze data from major epidemiological cohort studies, present the results of analyses, and write manuscripts for publication in academic journals. Our research in the Division of Aging investigates the role that diet and other modifiable risk factors play in the development of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and heart failure. Some of my past projects have included looking at the effect of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids on metabolic syndrome, chocolate consumption on endothelial function, and egg consumption on risk of developing diabetes.

What inspired you to pursue an MPH?
As an undergraduate at Tufts, the community health classes I took quickly became my favorite, and they had a profound impact on how I thought about health. This led me to pursue internships where I could apply a public health framework to problems such as improving obesity in a local community and healthcare payment reform. While these experiences crystallized for me that I wanted to work in public health, throughout my life I had always been a numbers and data guy. After taking an introductory epidemiology course, I realized that an MPH with a concentration in epidemiology and biostatistics could combine public health with my propensity for mathematics, and allow me to follow my passion for using data to inform public health decision making. 

What drew you to the Tufts Program?
During my junior year at Tufts, I took a full-year university seminar on the obesity epidemic and food economics that enrolled both undergraduate and graduate students. In this class, I had the opportunity to interact with Tufts MPH students and saw first-hand the knowledge base and accessibility of the Tufts faculty. Tufts is a small program that offers strong core classes in a variety of disciplines and meets each student’s individual needs. Combined with the fact that I knew that I wanted to pursue an MPH following graduation, the BA/MPH program at Tufts seemed like the right fit for me.

How did your Tufts degree help prepare you to work in the field (or what were the highlights of your Program)?
As an Epidemiology and Biostatistics concentrator, I learned valuable skills on how to understand, analyze, and present public health data, and from the Regression Methods course, I learned how to build prediction models using large datasets - something I do daily in my current position. I also learned how to look at data and think like an epidemiologist, and not purely as a statistician. This gave me the ability to think critically about what appropriate conclusions can be drawn from epidemiological datasets. Tufts also places a strong emphasis on health communication, and through both class presentations and a class offered on Professional Communications, I developed the skills to deliver effective messages, which tends to get overlooked in a purely data focused curricula.

 What advice do you have for prospective students?
When considering programs, think about what how you want to use your MPH after graduation, and research what skills are necessary for potential jobs and careers in your chosen concentration. Then examine the online class offerings, email professors, and talk to current students to find out if the program provides those skills and in what capacity. When at Tufts, take full advantage of your Applied Learning Experience to gain the skills you want to use to market yourself to potential employers once you earned your degree.