Kristina Akopyan

University of London
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Master of Epidemiology
Huys Scholar 2020

Problem: In many settings, epidemiology is perceived merely a science of infection control. Whereas the modern epidemiology is a study of distribution of health-related states and events in populations, as well as risk factors that affect any of the health states, including communicable and non-communicable diseases. It is about creating best evidence through well-designed research and deriving appropriate policy and practice implications from it. My vision is to contribute to the advancement of modern epidemiology and bringing best epidemiological capacities into service for Armenia and the global public health community.

Credentials: In 2013, I graduated with a Master of Public Health degree from the American University of Armenia (AUA). Upon the graduation I was offered a researcher position in the Avedisian Onanian Center for Health Services Research and Development at AUA. There, I participated in designing and implementing various quantitative and qualitative research projects for several years. During the past two years I have been actively collaborating with the WHO Regional Office for Europe. As a WHO research consultant, I provide senior mentorship in design of epidemiological studies conducted in different countries, including Uzbekistan, Romania, Georgia and Armenia. Throughout my work experience I have designed and carried out research projects in the field of tuberculosis, environmental health, health services research, clinical research (anemia, depression, Familial Mediterranean Fever etc.), as well as nursing education and practice.

Studying at the Epidemiology program at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, a leading Public Health school worldwide will help me to advance my skills and knowledge in the field of modeling and advanced statistics of infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases, as well as designs of cluster randomized trials. I am confident that by learning advanced epidemiology and communicating with world leading experts in the field I will acquire essential skillset and networking important to advance and develop the field of epidemiology in Armenia and beyond.

Solution: I envisage my contribution to the advancement of epidemiology in Armenia through creation of quality epidemiological outputs.

Specific measurable outputs include conducting research and publishing findings in peer-reviewed international scientific journals in topics that are of high public health importance in Armenia. Research projects that I am interested in include investigation of risk factors for unfavorable treatment outcomes among drug-resistance tuberculosis patients and patients who have tuberculosis and co-infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus, as well as identification of groups of people who are at higher exposure to tuberculosis due to where they live or work, increased risk due to biological or behavioral factors that compromise immune system and have inadequate access to quality tuberculosis care.

In addition to research activities, I plan to contribute to the development of the human capital in the field of epidemiology and public health in Armenia, through teaching, supervising Master’s thesis projects that target advanced epidemiological designs and methodologies, as well as through increasing role and understanding of the modern epidemiology among various stakeholders of the healthcare system, including nurses and physicians.

I am aware that Huys Foundation is granting the Huys Scholarship to me with the anticipation of my good faith pursuit and implementation of the projects and undertakings described in this letter, to which I hereby commit.

Kristina Akopyan