Evelyn Hsieh has been trying to solve mysteries for as long as she can remember. “I have always been intrigued by things I had to figure out,” says Hsieh, assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology. That fascination with solving problems came in handy when she chose her came in handy when she chose her career path. While pursuing her choice to be a doctor, she decided to take time off from medical school to get her public health degree. As the daughter of immigrants from Taiwan, Hsieh says combining public health with medicine was a clear choice for her when she saw firsthand the inequities in the health care system for immigrants, and the impact that those inequities had on health outcomes. Her training in public health further fostered a passion for global health, prompting her to pursue a year-long global health fellowship in Lima, Peru supported by the Fogarty International Center.
Over the years, she remained fascinated with solving mysteries – specifically, the complex medical mysteries and conditions that are related to rheumatology. As such she has dedicated her career to bridging the fields of rheumatology with global health. “People often do not initially see the connection between rheumatology and global health, when in actuality it causes an important unrecognized burden globally. Making those connections and solving the puzzles of how to build awareness, capacity and infrastructure in this field has become an important mission for me,” explains Hsieh.
Since 2011, Hsieh has been exploring areas of research that may potentially be linked through a rheumatology common denominator. Topics include epidemiology, prevention and health services aspects of musculoskeletal conditions (osteoporosis, fractures, sarcopenia, and rheumatoid arthritis) in countries undergoing economic transition such as China and Peru. “We are finding a common denominator of rheumatology across many areas of research where previously there was sparse attention on this issue.” she explains. “Moreover, my work has connected me with incredible colleagues from around the world working to create rheumatology care capacity and research infrastructure in their respective regions.”
Hsieh happily takes on the challenge to demonstrate rheumatology’s place in global health. She says this area of research is tremendously underrecognized and hopes to help lay the foundation for much-needed global rheumatology programs and partnerships. “When I was a resident, I was told global rheumatology wasn’t a thing,” says Hsieh. “I plan on making it a thing and making an impact.”