Henry Lin, MD '15, PhD '15, MS '16

As a student in UB’s rigorous MD/PhD program, Henry Lin appreciated learning about health care from multiple perspectives in preparation for his career as a physician-scientist.

And when he was introduced to an epidemiologic approach that he wanted to explore further, he didn’t hesitate to pursue an additional degree.

“During the first two years of medical school, we discussed how obesity is arguably the greatest public health challenge American society will face for the next few decades and how it impacts the pathophysiology of the various organ systems,” he explained. “We touched upon the concept that obesity is largely a preventable disease, and I wanted to know more—about promoting healthy lifestyle choices and how to apply this knowledge to help those in the greatest need. I felt that I needed to learn more about study design and statistical analysis.”

After meeting with the director of graduate studies in the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, to discuss his goals, Lin said he felt that the epidemiology MS program was a natural fit.

Broad Perspective of Health Care

Now enrolled in the program, Lin enjoys the weekly seminars where professors or invited speakers present their research. “Other professors attend and ask questions, so it gives me a chance to see how they interpret data and how they think about different problems,” he said. “Also, since the professors all have diverse backgrounds and interests, I feel that I am getting a broad perspective of health care problems.”

Through his research, Lin is confronting one of those problems and the issue that encouraged his interest in public health: obesity.

“While there have been steady increases in the prevalence of obesity across all socioeconomic classes, the highest proportions are still found amongst the most disadvantaged groups,” he said. “Obesity results from energy intake in excess of metabolic needs, and previous research suggests that disadvantaged individuals may be predisposed toward purchasing high-energy-dense foods that are cheaper per calorie. My studies aim to clarify the mechanism driving this predisposition and to develop behavioral interventions for promoting healthier food choices among low socioeconomic status populations.”