Data driven

Kathryn Rough/ photo: Sarah Sholes

2 min read

Kathryn Rough, SD ’17, uses deep quantitative analysis skills to examine drug-related health issues

Kathryn Rough is a self-professed data junkie.

As a doctoral student in epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, she has spent scores of hours analyzing large datasets to shed light on drug use and drug safety. She has examined methods for detecting aberrant use of prescription opioids by using health insurance claims data, and has evaluated the comparative safety of antiretroviral regimens used to treat HIV-infected women by using data from long-term studies about their children’s health.

Rough earned a master’s in epidemiology from Harvard Chan School in 2014 and finished work on her doctorate this March. She got hooked on epidemiology, which focuses on finding patterns and causes for health issues in population groups, because she loves problem-solving and she wants to help improve people’s health—and epidemiology involves both.

After graduating from Boston University with a degree in health sciences with a public health minor, Rough wanted to gain experience doing health-related research. She spent a year and a half as a research assistant for the healthcare firm Inflexxion, working with epidemiologists studying opioid misuse and abuse. Her role was quality control; she checked analyses and reporting done by the epidemiologists at every stage of research.

“It was great exposure to what a career in epidemiology would be like, and really inspired me to go back to school to get the proper training so that I could do epidemiological analyses myself,” Rough said.