“Everyone should come back to school in their 30s if they have the opportunity,” says Panagiotis (Panos) Vagenas, PhD, AP MPH '11. A native of Greece, Panos moved to London as a college freshman and stayed until he finished a PhD in immunology with a focus on T cell signaling. He then spent five years as a postdoctoral fellow at Rockefeller University working on HIV vaccines. “I liked what I was doing in HIV, but by switching to public health I can contribute more.”
As a student in the Global Health track of the AP MPH program, Panos immersed himself in the Yale campus, taking in lectures, Master’s Teas and classes offered across the University. “My favorite course, hands down, has been Global Health Ethics, Politics and Economics.” Co-taught by Jennifer Prah Ruger, MSc, PhD, an associate professor in the division of Health Policy and Administration, and Thomas Pogge, PhD, the Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs, the course hosted leaders from organizations such as the Global Fund for HIV, AIDS, and TB and the National Institutes of Health.
Describing the practicum in Yale’s AP MPH program as the opportunity for AP MPH students to practice “hard core epidemiology,” Panos worked with the New Haven Health Department to revamp the ways that some reportable infectious diseases are tracked. For example, health care providers report cases of hepatitis C, as they are required to do, but the disease is a chronic condition and the reports are misleading when the same patient is recorded multiple times, whereas hepatitis B cases can be resolved and recurrences can be separate incidents of the disease. Applying this logic requires some fairly significant changes to the ways that surveillance records are kept.