Khalil Zlaoui

ScM in Biostatistics ’19


Undergraduate & Graduate Institution: ENSAE ParisTech
Current Role: Data Scientist, Aetna (New York City)

Why did you choose the Brown University School of Public Health?
I chose Brown for many reasons. The first is that the program in biostatistics is relatively small, which has many positive aspects. We can easily connect with faculty members, our professors are very approachable. The second reason is that the school offers many opportunities via its collaborations with hospitals in the Providence area, and in the Boston area. I knew I would not have trouble finding a job while I was completing my degree. Last but not least, Providence is a great city. It's not too small, not too big, and relatively affordable.

What made Brown's program different from other programs you considered?
The faculty at Brown was more available and approachable than in other schools, particularly in biostatistics programs. For such reasons, I believe it was much easier for us to find part-time jobs through the program. Brown is more affordable than the competition, and most students receive partial tuition funding. This and its reputation make the program in biostatistics very competitive.

What did you enjoy most about your program?
I have a passion for biostatistics. What I like most is the interplay between the fields of mathematics, computer science, and biology. In biostatistics, we learn the methods and tools to analyze data and conduct research. What I liked most about the program was that in addition to studying mathematics, we helped science and healthcare advance. In my case, Brown gave me incredible opportunities.

In addition to working as a statistical consultant at school, I worked as a genetics data analyst at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston.

What was your academic area of interest and why?
I found a particular interest in statistical genetics and bioinformatics. I enjoyed learning about the theoretical methods and algorithms used to analyze genetic data. I was also interested in the model assumptions of association studies and the challenges that arise when they are not met, for example when phenotypes are unusual or when data are missing. I was also passionate about uncovering associations at the genome and epigenome level and therefore enjoy applying these methods.

How did your program prepare you for your current position/next steps?
The program in biostatistics provided me with the necessary tools to analyze data. Thanks to Brown’s advanced courses in statistics and big data, I learned how to apply statistical models and machine learning algorithms to understand and/or predict outcomes.

What did you enjoy most about Providence?
The Beach. Summer in Providence is beautiful. I have been exploring the beaches in Rhode Island thoroughly. Narragansett, Newport, Charlestown, Block Island, or the Cape are nearby and worth a visit!

What advice would you give to prospective applicants?
If you are unsure about biostatistics, I can say from my experience that it is a very exciting field. Brown University and the School of Public Health will give you many opportunities. I think it's important for prospective applicants to weight all the variables, i.e. school reputation but also location, opportunities, tuition & fees, etc. To me, Brown has the perfect balance and is a great choice.

Learn more about Brown's ScM in Biostatistics