Lauren Saag Peetluk, M.P.H.

Research Mentor: Tim Sterling, M.D.

Thesis Topic: Characterizing the Impact of HIV in Prediction Model for Pulmonary Tuberculosis Treatment Outcomes

While completing my undergraduate public health education at Tulane University, I was introduced to the multifaceted nature of studying infectious diseases, and was able to explore a variety of career options through an internship at the New Orleans AIDS Task Force and a summer research assistantship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s 1917 Clinic for Comprehensive HIV Care. From both of those experiences, I realized the importance of developing innovative and well-designed research studies and analytic plans to examine the dynamics of disease trends, including prevention, transmission, screening, diagnosis, treatment, and long-term outcomes.  After Tulane, I migrated up to Boston to pursue a Master’s of Public Health in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Boston University. There I sought to further understand the complexities of study design and develop a strong analytic skill set to analyze and interpret data. I also pursued research opportunities in the realm of infectious disease, though my focus shifted more towards Tuberculosis. I am honored and excited to be continuing my epidemiologic education at Vanderbilt University, working with Dr. Timothy Sterling and the Regional Prospective Observational Research for Tuberculosis (RePORT) Brazil team.

Why Vanderbilt?
Among the many reasons I chose to pursue my PhD education at Vanderbilt University, I believe the most important is the program’s focus on its students. Starting on day one of the program, students begin working among a research team and courses are designed to allow each student to apply their research to course-specific learning objectives, projects, and assignments. Class sizes are small and facilitate collaboration between multiple programs of the graduate school at Vanderbilt University. Many of the courses are comprised of students from diverse backgrounds, including Biostatistics and Epidemiology students, allowing students to develop interdisciplinary relationships that will benefit future research relationships. In addition, I relish the opportunity to work with Dr. Sterling and his research team. Dr. Sterling’s success, both clinically and in research, and the strong infrastructure of RePORT-Brazil will provide vast opportunities for me to learn and grow as I pursue advanced epidemiologic training. Lastly, having grown up in Birmingham, AL, I am very excited to be back in the Southeast, closer to family and friends and away from the cold winters of Boston!