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Student Spotlight: Po-hsuan Lai

While working as a statistical programmer analyst and learning about various treatments for a range of diseases, Po-hsuan Lai came to appreciate the complexity and significance of clinical trials. This is what ignited his passion for biostatistics and his desire to pursue a graduate degree at Weill Cornell Medicine. 

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Po-hsuan Lai

The capstone project was one of the main components that drew Po-hsuan to the Master of Science in Healthcare Policy and Research program. “Having the chance to perform statistical consulting under the guidance of world-class faculty resonated with me,” he said. As a part of the class of 2022, he was also pleased with the ability to complete the program in one year and keep his career plan intact. The final deciding factor was Weill Cornell Medicine’s location. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live in one of the biggest cities in the world with terrific job prospects, not to mention our close connections with nearby institutions like Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Rockefeller University.”

New York City is a long way from home for Po-hsuan. He was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, and earned his bachelor’s degree in statistics and economics from the University of Toronto. He continues to push himself past boundaries to achieve his goals.

The people within the program have certainly been a highlight for Po-hsuan. “Faculty members are all approachable and care about all the students. My cohort is also amazing,” he said. “These are people coming from many different academic backgrounds and I have learned a lot from each of them.”

Like many other students worldwide, the biostatistics and data science student was challenged by the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the hybrid learning methods and support from faculty and staff have allowed him to overcome those challenges.

Two faculty members who especially stood out. Po-hsuan noted that Dr. Xi Kathy Zhou, associate professor of population health sciences and program director for the biostatistics and data science track, was wonderful in lectures and took the time and effort to connect with students even outside the realm of school work. The other faculty member who has played a major role in Po-hsuan’s experience is Dr. Jing Li, assistant professor of population health sciences, whom he has worked with as a research assistant. “She has provided me with guidance and support in learning about different facets of academic research,” he said. “My growth in conducting healthcare research would not be possible without her help.”

In terms of coursework, Po-hsuan has particularly enjoyed Master’s Project II. This course is taught by Dr. Paul Christos, associate professor of research in population health sciences, and consists of workshops focused on practical statistical consulting skills and a series of faculty lectures from  Weill Cornell Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and other institutions. It has given Po-hsuan a new perspective of the practical side of statistical consulting.

After graduation, Po-hsuan intends to follow his passion for biostatistics and pursue a career working to advance clinical drug development and clinical trial research.

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