Testimonials from recent graduates of our MPhil programme can be found at the University’s virtual tour.
Further alumni testimonials are provided below.
MPhil in Epidemiology
Professor of Biostatistics and Clinical Trials, Queen Mary University of London
Rhian studied her MPhil in Epidemiology in 1998-1999. She stayed on at the Institute of Public Health for a short time afterwards working with Carol Brayne on the CC75C study, before joining the then newly formed MRC Clinical Trials Unit, London as a statistician.
Her subsequent career progression and research is summarised on here.
The MPhil in Epidemiology in Cambridge was a turning point in my career. I started out with some practical experience from having worked in a trials office, but the MPhil taught me methods and research skills I would come to use later in my career. I felt very lucky to have been taught by some of the most experienced and respected researchers in the field on the MPhil. I was inspired and motivated to hear about their work and learn from them. I made some good friends on the course. The choice of topics being taught and small group size for practical work provided me with a broad base of knowledge and confidence in my research. I was particularly interested in cancer research and trials, and these have been abiding interests throughout my career. One of our essays was a review about a controversial topic of our choosing. I chose breast cancer screening in women in their 40’s and found it fascinating. A few years later I returned to the topic of breast cancer screening for my PhD, and have since been lucky enough to have worked on some really exciting trials in the areas of prostate cancer detection (PROMIS – using MRI) and lung cancer screening (YLST – using low dose CT). The MPhil provided me with excellent foundations that have helped in my research.
Dr Kelly Bolton, MD PhD
Medical Oncology Fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering
Dr. Bolton attended medical school at UCLA School of Medicine and completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Weill-Cornell Medical College-NYP. She has a MPhil in Epidemiology and a PhD in Genetic Epidemiology from the University of Cambridge. Dr. Bolton’s research focuses on the use of blood-based genomic screens for early detection of malignancies and pre-malignant states.
My time at Cambridge as an MPhil student was the most intellectually enriching (and fun) part of my education. The small class sizes, one-on-one interactions with world-class epidemiologists and research thesis gave me a really strong background in epidemiologic theory and application. Because of the small class sizes I developed strong relationships with many of my course mates and we continue to remain in touch and collaborate to this day. After seven years, I continue to remain in contact with several MPhil faculty who still mentor me to this day. Comparing my experience at Cambridge to my American colleagues’ experience in their graduate epidemiology courses I would definitely say that I received much more individual attention and feedback. Graduate life at Cambridge is also very unique compared to the States with much more social activities and interest groups specifically for graduate students. Cambridge, and the Department of Epidemiology and Public health is a very special place and the MPhil was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.
Dr David Wormser
Real World Data Science Manager
Roche, Basel, Switzerland
Dr Wormser completed his MPhil in Epidemiology in 2008. Subsequently, David enrolled in a 3-year PhD program at the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Unit (CEU), Department of Public Health and Primary Care in Cambridge. Under the supervision of Dr Angela Wood and Professor John Danesh, David’s research focused on the association of adiposity markers and risk of cardiovascular disease using large-scale observational data from the Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration (ERFC). His work was published in the Lancet in 2011.
After completion of his PhD in 2011, David continued with his research at the CEU as a post-doc. In 2014, he accepted a global position as an Epidemiologist at Roche, UK. Currently, David is leading a Global Real World Data group in neuroscience and rare diseases.
David said: “The education received at Cambridge provided me with all the necessary skills and tools to conduct observational studies to support the research, development and access of new drugs at Roche”
Dr Miriam S. Udler, MD PhD
Endocrinologist, Massachusetts General Hospital
The University of Cambridge MPhil in Epidemiology was a truly fantastic learning experience! The course offered high quality teaching in principles of epidemiology that laid the foundation for the research I have performed ever since. Additionally, the hands on research experience leading to the masters thesis helped solidify the concepts presented in lectures and provided an opportunity for performing cutting-edge research with world-class research mentors. I would highly recommend this course! For me it was truly life-changing, as it paved the way for my future career in genetic epidemiology research and introduced me to exceptional colleagues and mentors.
Following the MPhil, I went on to complete an MD/PhD, followed by residency in Internal Medicine and fellowship in Endocrinology. I am now an Endocrinologist at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), where I focus clinically on genetic forms of endocrine conditions as the director of the Diabetes Genetics Clinic. I also continue to perform research at MGH and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard with a focus on the genetics of type 2 diabetes.
Medical Student, University of Pennsylvania
The University of Cambridge MPhil in Epidemiology gave me the opportunity to expand my understanding of public health and healthcare data analysis in a practical, project-oriented way. Before matriculating to the University of Cambridge, I had completed a degree in Applied Mathematics at Yale University and been exposed to a range of statistical tools and interesting analytical questions, but I had little experience interpreting health research or writing about data analysis in a clear, reproducible way. The program in Epidemiology helped address both of my relative weaknesses head-on: the course material introduced me to the key study designs and analytical methods used in health studies, and the course assignments taught me how to think and write like an epidemiologist. The mix of one-on-one mentorship on research papers and in-class group-based learning helped me to benefit from the strengths of my mentors and peers. Even the informal assessments helped me to track my progress and solidify my personal learning.
As a first-year medical student at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, I’ve already experienced the benefits of the MPhil. Papers on clinical research are much more accessible to me than they once were, and the competencies I gained at Cambridge have been highly relevant in my courses on genetics, infectious disease, cancer biology, and more. I still have much to learn in the field of epidemiology, but I’m confident that the fundamentals I gained at the IPH will be useful both in the clinic and the lab throughout my medical career.
MPhil in Public Health
Ashri Anurudran (class of 2020)
Growing up in London, Kuala Lumpur and Houston, Ashri Anurudran witnessed the prevalence of sexual violence within vastly different societies. Ashri founded and taught two school-based sexual violence prevention programs for 12 to 14-year-olds in India and Kenya. As a Social Innovation Cheng Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, Ashri furthered empirical research in this space by conducting a randomized control trial of 1200 students in Kenya to evaluate the impacts of her program in changing knowledge and gender attitudes. This work sparked her research interests in the efficacy of violence prevention strategies from a public health lens.
Informed by such experiences supporting survivors of violence, Ashri hopes to foster a career at the intersection of medicine, policy, and public health. For this reason, after graduating from Harvard with a degree in Economics, she pursued an MPhil in Public Health at the University of Cambridge (2019 – 2020) to strengthen epidemiological research skills, assess various public health burdens, and better understand how to effectively engage stakeholders to develop interdisciplinary health policies. During the pandemic, she spearheaded the COVID-19 Taskforce on Domestic Violence in order to investigate, educate, and advocate on behalf of survivors. In October 2020, she started working on a research team focused on intimate partner violence at the Department of Emergency Medicine at Stanford University. In the future, she hopes to train as a physician and continue her research on gender-based violence prevention. Using lessons from the MPhil in Public Health, she hopes to introduce preventative norms early enough to create a generation of powerful, confident and informed citizens with the tools to fight sexual violence. She is very grateful to the University of Cambridge, her fellow classmates, and the amazing faculty at the Department of Public Health and Primary Care for their multidisciplinary teaching, thoughtful guidance and unwavering support.
Becky Lantaff (class of 2017)
Before I applied to study this MPhil, I had completed an undergrad degree in Natural Sciences at Cambridge, and spent a year working as a research assistant in the Department of Public Health and Primary Care. The MPhil was the perfect next step to build on my existing experience and teach me the theory behind some of the things I had been doing. I also knew that this is a great, friendly department to work in.
The MPhil has opened the door me to start a PhD in Cambridge on primary care management of gestational diabetes. I’ve had the chance to publish my MPhil thesis and am using lots of what I learnt on the MPhil course in my PhD – particularly the core epidemiological concepts, statistics and data management. I had never used statistics software before the course and now I am (relatively) confident using STATA!
Cambridge is a lovely place to live and work! The course was very interesting and diverse, and its great at the end of the year, once the lectures and exams have finished, to independently work on your own thesis project. I felt really supported throughout – by supervisors, the course organisers, course admin staff, classmates… and there are always lots of people at college who will listen to you if you ask them.
This MPhil brings together people from all different backgrounds with different skills and interests, but with a passion to make a difference through public health – this is inspiring!
Tereza Kaplanova (class of 2017)
“I chose the MPhil Public Health at Cambridge to consolidate and enhance my understanding of principles underpinning my work as an NHS and non-profit healthcare management practitioner.
Being a law graduate with experience in the areas of health care policy implementation, health service redesign and performance optimisation, I wished to gain an understanding of quantitative methods and strengthen my abilities to engage with academic research and evidence.
Due to my interests in a variety of public health care fields, I welcomed that the course offered a mixture of modules enabling me to reinforce my generalist and multi-disciplinary background while specialising in my areas of interests through course assessments. Moreover, I was keen to leave London for a city which has a real sense of community.
My newly gained epidemiological research proficiency has enabled me to pursue a role as an Epidemiologist for Medecins Sans Frontieres.
I also feel more confident in my quantitative skills and my abilities to scrutinise evidence required for my role of an NHS business analyst and project manager. Plus, the small class sizes allowed me to meet, interact and build a network of close colleagues, many of whom I have become very good friends with.
The rich discussions during lectures have taught me to challenge and question any idea, opinion and piece of information – a skill I hope to treasure forever. Cambridge enabled me to meet many amazing and inspiring people, who I will always view as role models and who will always humble me.
I will never forget the sleepless nights cramming statistics and writing essays. I will forever remember the amazing Darwin kitchen and bar that made the year much more bearable. Cambridge will always remind of what I am able to achieve with perseverance and endurance.”
Dr Molly Thomas-Meyer (class of 2015)
Consultant in Public Health
“A masters degree was a requirement of my professional training to become a Consultant in Public Health. It was a huge benefit and privilege to study on the MPhil at Cambridge, and one of the reasons I applied to the East of England training programme.
The MPhil has been an integral part of my academic groundwork to becoming a Consultant in Public Health. It contributed a great deal to my knowledge and confidence in understanding and communicating epidemiology and public health issues on a daily basis.
For my thesis I chose the topic of public attitudes towards taxes on sugary drinks.
The research I did has encouraged me to pursue a career path around communicating Public Health policy to the general public, and has allowed me to start using and developing these skills by influencing key people in this wider discussion.
I will never forget the fabulous formal dinners at some of the most beautiful buildings in England. At Cambridge I made friends with like-minded people from every corner of the globe.”
Prof Nick Steel (class of 1999)
Clinical Professor in Public Health
“Why did I want to study at Cambridge? Why would you not want to study at Cambridge? I imagined I’d be working in a medieval room with a view over the backs – but the Institute of Public Health was nearly as good…
The Diploma in Public Health, as it was then, gave me the academic grounding and personal confidence to apply for a Harkness Fellowship in the USA and then a NIHR doctoral fellowship back in the UK. It enabled me to pursue an academic career.
I will never forget having lunch with Amartya Sen in the Masters Lodge at Trinity just after he’d been awarded a Nobel Prize – simply because we were in the same College. More practically, (University Lecturer) Tom Davies’ mantra “what exactly is your research question?” was perhaps the most useful thing I learnt.”
MPhil in Primary Care Research
Dr Golnessa Masson (class of 2018)
I had the opportunity to complete the MPhil in Primary Care Research during my clinical General Practice training. I felt nervous embarking on a postgraduate degree course, having worked full time in hospital or general practice clinical training posts for the preceding 5 years. My university days felt a long way off and I wasn’t sure I still had the stamina or concentration for long lecture/ study sessions and challenging written assignments. I had completed an intercalated degree in Community Health Sciences during my time at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry but my research experience felt like a distant woefully inadequate memory.
These fears were soon allayed on starting the course. Though indeed demanding and challenging, the MPhil was taught clearly through small groups seminars where topics were introduced and explained simply, gradually built upon and reinforced with practical exercises. Sharing many seminars with other MPhil students meant we could discuss and debate topics such as research ethics, research experience and critical appraisal, drawing from our different respective experiences. I felt free to ask questions and for clarification during teaching sessions or by contacting tutors directly, all of whom were knowledgeable, approachable and had inspiring enthusiasm for their subjects.
During the course I was equipped with core knowledge and skills in epidemiology and biostatistics as well as primary care specific modules, a particular highlight being the fantastic qualitative research module delivered by Dr Jenni Burt. It was a privilege to have the space to step back slightly from my clinical work and develop my academic knowledge and interests.
I was lucky to be matched with a supervisory team with relevant expertise who helped me fit my MPhil research project to my interest in risk communication. In particular I am grateful to Dr Juliet Usher-Smith for her patience and support as I navigated the new world of research proposals, protocols, ethics applications and more. I intend to maintain and build the working relationships I have developed within the departments of epidemiology and primary care as I move forward in my academic and clinical career. Specifically, I have been awarded an NIHR In-Practice Fellowship in order to continue to develop my academic skills and experience alongside my clinical work as a General Practitioner.
I would highly recommend the MPhil in Primary Care Research to anyone wanting to establish a sound grounding in epidemiology and research methods and gain valuable research experience.
(Note the previous MPhil courses in Epidemiology, Public Health, and Primary Care Research are now specialisation themes within the new MPhil in Population Health Sciences.)