Miremad (Mir) Moafi Madani

Ph.D. in Epidemiology ’24


Previous Institutions: Mashhad University of Medical Sciences (Iran), MD
Yale School of Public Health, MS in Chronic Disease Epidemiology

Why did you choose the Brown University School of Public Health?
Brown SPH provides a balanced combination of almost every factor that I cared about, things like the quality of methods education, diversity and inclusion, mentorship quality, reputation, research fit, and a nice, affordable place to live as a Ph.D. student. I remember it was the interview day when I made my decision to join Brown SPH if I receive the admission letter. I was mainly impressed by the friendly, intimate atmosphere and the level of satisfaction and excitement among students who had joined us for the recruitment events. It is astonishing that the Brown SPH has succeeded to be ranked among the top schools of public health during the eight years since the public health program expanded to became the school of public health. Now, one year after joining Brown, I’m so grateful of all the support I’ve received from the faculty, staffs, and the administration during this unprecedented time.

What makes Brown's program different from other programs you considered?
Small size, collaborative environment, supportive faculty and staffs, robust methodologic courses, and providing one of the most generous funding packages throughout the US are some of the relatively unique features of the Brown SPH. Furthermore, there are other special opportunities like the Open Graduate Program in which PhD students are able to apply for a Master’s program in another field of interest to facilitate interdisciplinary research. Another source of Brown’s uniqueness stems from its location; the majority of top-ranked universities are either located in large cities or in rural areas, both of which have some pros and cons. However, Brown is located in a beautiful mid-size metropolitan area which provides all pros of urban universities without wasting time in traffic and spending a ton of money on housing and transportation.

What do you enjoy most about your program?
With regard to the Epidemiology Ph.D. program, I’m so satisfied and proud of our department’s Epidemiologic methods courses, a series of four courses, designed to fully prepare students for conducting epidemiologic research and critically engage with the research literature. Our curriculum is also so much appropriately designed so that doing research is easily manageable from the first semester, while in some universities, it is so hard to be seriously involved in research during the first two years. I also like that there are always numerous teaching and research opportunities available to both doctoral and MPH students. Another positive routine of our program is that we receive an academic assessment letter every semester in details, which shows how closely our advisors and graduate program director follow our academic performance to be as supportive as possible.

What is your academic area of interest and why?
I’ve come from a medical background, which made me interested in non-communicable chronic diseases including cardiometabolic diseases and sleep disorders. I’m also deeply interested in causal inference methods such as causal mediation analysis. The etiology of non-communicable diseases is so much complex so that it is really challenging to understand how different genetic, behavioral, social and environmental risk factors interact with each other in different populations to develop an end-stage disease like heart failure. In addition to the huge burden of cardiovascular diseases and their preventable nature, figuring out these stunning complexities is another motive in focusing on this area of research.

What are your postgraduate goals/plans?
I am motivated to continue in academia to be able to teach, learn, and research at the same time. I believe that asking good questions by itself is more challenging and impactful than finding best answers for not-so-good questions. With that in mind, I’m going to dedicate the remaining of my life to ask valuable questions that answering them not only help people live longer, but also meaningfully improve their quality of life and satisfaction.

Why Providence?
Providence is astonishingly beautiful, sufficiently modern, and surprisingly affordable! Considering the size of the state and its free public transportation for Brown students, one can literally live anywhere in the state she likes and still be able to arrive on-time pretty easily. As a foody person, I should acknowledge that I’m so stunned by the wide array of food options available in Providence and nearby areas. Furthermore, Providence is a heaven for bike riders, with tens of miles of bike paths. It is also pretty close to Boston and New York, so it is so doable and affordable to go there to watch an NBA match or a great concert!

What advice would you give to prospective applicant?
I recommend that in addition to reading a faculty webpage or CV, check out the “NIH reporter” website and in some cases, even their Twitter pages to figure out their future works based on their current grants and interests. Don’t underestimate the importance of research alignment in the admission process and in your subsequent success in the program, so do your homework to find the potential fits and mention your plan with some details in your SOP and in your interviews, details like who and why you think would be a good fit for you, and what questions you are going to answer under their supervision. And, never forget that you can always reach out to us; I will be more than happy to hear from you and to answer your questions.