Reuben Horace - MPH

Where did you do your undergraduate studies and what was your major?
I attended Boston University. I majored in Health Science with a minor in Chemistry.

When did you know that public health was your passion?
Leaving a war torn country to shape a new life was difficult. My family and I were lucky enough to escape the war in Liberia and be given an opportunity to become American citizens, an opportunity we have fully embraced. I always knew that I wanted to be involved in the health field but my passion for public health didn’t emerge until the Ebola Crisis in West Africa. In March of 2014, various news outlets published headlines reporting the spread of the Ebola virus to Western Africa, most heavily in Liberia. I witnessed videos and pictures of the community that raised me being crippled by the uncertainty of life. I knew I couldn’t just wait and hope the issue would resolve itself. This was the community that raised me and I was determined to make a difference.

What area of public health are you most interested in and why?
I am most interested in the field of epidemiology, more specifically chronic diseases and cardio metabolic health. The field of public health is constantly evolving in response to the needs of communities and populations around the world. My mission is to improve the conditions and behaviors that affect health so that all people can attain it. The work of public health professionals is important because public health initiatives affect people every day in every part of the world. It addresses broad issues that can affect the health and well-being of individuals, families, communities, populations, and societies—both now, and for generations to come. My most recent manuscript, "Hypertension diagnosis and physician consult to reduce salt intake," was published in the June 2017 edition of the Journal of Medical and Health Sciences. I want to continue conducting epidemiological research such as this in order to advance the knowledge of both public health and medicine.

Why did you select Brown to pursue your MPH?
As we move along with health care reform, it is becoming apparent that we need medical professionals who know, understand, and can take a multi-faceted approach to medicine in order to meet the growing demands of communities. This was the driving force for me to pursue a Master’s in Public Health at Brown University. What attracted me the most to Brown University was their curriculum and dedication to the mission and values: Learn public health by doing public health. The institution, with its several programs and initiatives supporting this path, embodies the exact type of learning environment which I feel will best prepare me for my future career. The curriculum promotes hands on experience, collaboration, and critical thinking which creates a rich learning environment. With the numerous opportunities to be actively involved within the community, I have been able to contextualize health from a social, economic, and cultural perspective, which has truly allowed me to see the practice of medicine and public health on many different levels.

Tell us about your internship and your thesis project?
This summer for my internship, I’ve had the opportunity to be actively involved with a clinical trial at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island under my mentor Dr. Chuck Eaton. The clinical trial at Memorial is a randomized control trial that seeks to understand the effect of an unloading knee brace on post Anterior Cruciate Ligament knee injury outcomes. This study will test whether an unloading knee brace that reduces the knee adduction movement impacts patient oriented outcomes, and changes in multiple tissues associated with post traumatic knee osteoarthritis. Through this experience, I’ve had the opportunity to create a consent form, submit an IRB proposal, attend weekly data analysis, and build a rehabilitation protocol for the patients' post-surgery within the study.

For my thesis, I will be working with Dr. Chuck Eaton, Director of the Center for Primary Care and Prevention and Dr. Simin Liu, Director of the Center for Global Cardiometabolic Health. This project is primarily focused on NSAID use among those with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that progressively attacks the joints, and its effects on diminishing renal function. My research endeavors have taught me that effective multidisciplinary research requires collaborative and patient-centered approaches to planning and provision, which leads to the achievement of research objectives.

You won best Master's poster at this year's Public Health Research Day. Congratulations! Tell us about your project and that experience.
Thank you! Under Dr. Eaton’s guidance, I was able to first author the manuscript “The Association of Vitamin K Deficiencies and Accelerated Knee Osteoarthritis.”  We examined the prospective association of vitamin K with radiographic progression of knee osteoarthritis. We hypothesized that low Vitamin K would be associated with accelerated knee OA progression and high Vitamin K levels would be associated with protection. A generalized linear mixed model was used to examine the association of vitamin K and change in joint space width, and a Cox proportional hazards model was used to examine joint space narrowing progression from baseline. We observed an inverse adjusted relationship between vitamin K intake and change in joint space width. Additionally, we found an increase in joint space narrowing progression with decreasing levels of vitamin K. So eat those leafy greens! This experience was unlike any other. I was able to learn from Dr. Eaton, statisticians, and my courses in order to put this project together. This award has been such an honor and I am very humbled to have received it.

What are your goals for after graduation?
After graduation, I plan on matriculating into medical school in the class of 2022. Through research, training, and service, I hope to combat health disparities in marginalized communities by enabling patients to receive the most accurate and up to date patient-centered care. It is my calling to continue contributing to the well-being of society, which has given so much to me. I believe my experiences with the MPH program, curiosity, and passion will serve me well as a medical student and later as a physician who will serve, help heal, and transform healthcare.