Crain’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2016: Abdul El-Sayed

Abdul El-Sayed wanted to be a pediatric neurosurgeon in sub-Saharan Africa, where access to surgeons is in short supply.

When he discovered social epidemiology, the study of why some populations suffer diseases more than others, he shifted his academic focus to health policy and science. That way, he could find out why people get sick and what we could do about it.

Although he earned his medical degree, El-Sayed became a tenure track professor in the department of epidemiology at Columbia University. But he found his work there too esoteric and conceptual.

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