Alumni Statements about the HBR Program
The doctoral program in Preventive Medicine at the USC Institute for Prevention Research (IPR) offers a unique opportunity to gain the skills needed in conducting valid research, which can be applied to a multitude of career paths including but not limited to biomedical, behavioral, and psychological fields. Doctoral students at IPR make great candidates for future employment as they receive diversified training in statistical analysis, research design methodology, grant writing, and behavioral and psychological theory. Moreover, students receive hands-on training as IPR has a several ongoing federally funded research grants in a variety of fields with the opportunity for students to be involved in data collection, data analysis, manuscript preparation, and peer-reviewed publications. As a comprehensive training institute, IPR has given me the fundamental skills to thrive in a top biomedical research institute.
The training I received in health behavior research at IPR was world class. The unique, transdisciplinary environment and faculty who are at the top of their respective fields combine to produce a rich academic incubator for the next generation of health behavior researchers. The invaluable opportunities the program provides to doctoral students to be a part of the active and cutting edge research portfolio the faculty hold firmly places the strong training students receive in research methodology into context. IPR has also developed a strong reputation for top quality and innovative science, as well as solid training in health behavior theory and methods, that only helps students as they transition out of the program from student to independent researcher.
In my experience, the PhD in Health Behaviour Research has provided me with the tools I need to be competitive and successful in the labour market. One of the many strengths of this program is the interdisciplinarity of the training. The prevention of disease and the promotion of healthy behaviours cannot be understood and achieved solely through the methods or theories utilised by one field of research. The training at IPR pulls from many different research areas, including psychology, sociology, economics, biology, statistics, etc., and pushes students to think through different problems from a more rounded perspective. The researchers in IPR are among the best in their field and are always pushing their specific areas of research forward. They often include students in their research projects and collaboration often continues after the student has graduated and moved to other institutions. The statistical and theoretical training that I received from IPR has gone a long way to provide me with the research career I have today.
The training I received at IPR was the best type of training I could have received for the type of work I've always wanted to do, HIV prevention. In the real world, HIV/AIDS is much more than just a disease; there are myriad aspects of this disease (intrapersonal, social, cultural, public health, political) that need to be addressed simultaneously in order to fight the epidemic at both the domestic and global levels. The interdisciplinary training I received at IPR has enabled me to examine the epidemic from all of these vantage points and to think about disease prevention from a "big picture" perspective. Additionally, the very "hands on" approach to learning about behavioral and biomedical research gave me an advantage in that I know what is involved in designing and implementing research projects, from the development of the initial concept to analyzing the data and writing up the results of the study for publication. This sort of breadth of expertise is extremely important in the work I am currently doing. In many ways, I don't think I'd be as effective in my work if I didn't have this level and this quality of training.
The in-depth and broad training I received at IPR was cutting-edge and has given me an advantage in the increasingly complex and competitive field of research in which I am now involved. I was fortunate to be mentored by faculty members at IPR who bring together a broad spectrum of expertise in behavioral and preventive medicine, community-based interventions, psychometrics and biostatistics, and nutritional, cardiovascular and cancer epidemiology. The extensive and focused research experience I gained as a research assistant has served me extremely well through my post-graduate fellowship and residency training, and now in my growth and transition to becoming an independent researcher in a top-notch medical institution. My five-year training at IPR has undoubtedly carried a lot of weight in my career development, and has carried me very far. I am sure it will carry me even further in my career pursuit as a cancer epidemiologist.
My training at IPR was the state-of-the-art in health behavior and disease prevention research. From the application of innovative interventions to the use of modern statistical analytic methods, I believe my training at IPR has put me ahead of the curve and has given me a completive advantage in an increasingly complex scientific world of multidisciplinary research. My mentors were the best in their field and challenged and encouraged me to think critically and simultaneously "outside the box". Since my graduation in 1995, I have enjoyed a productive professional research career and have gone up for tenure this year – I attribute this in large part to the personalized and careful training I received at IPR.
The PhD in Preventive Medicine program at USC is timely and unique. As medicine and public health converge, the importance of preventive medicine as a cost-effective way to promote health and prevent or delay the onset of diseases becomes apparent and more and more recognized. The PhD program trains students to become independent health researchers by equipping them with rigorous research skills that are applicable to a broad range of health issues. Students have great flexibility in defining their research interests and topics. In addition, the skill-oriented approach allows students to be marketable in a wide range of job sectors, including private consulting, pharmaceutical, academia, and governmental and non-governmental agencies. The strong research skills I learned have been crucial in my marketability post-graduation.