Getting to Know You: Dr. Mohammad Rifat Haider

The College of Public Health has welcomed five new faculty this fall, and we will be introducing them over the next few weeks, beginning with Mohammad Rifat Haider, PhD, who has joined the Department of Health Policy and Management as an assistant professor.

What brought you to the field of public health?

I was trained as a physician at the best medical school in Bangladesh, Dhaka Medical College, and when I was doing my residency at the biggest hospital in the country, I felt that I should work in the field of public health rather than any clinical discipline. I believed that I could serve the population better by working on the preventive side as opposed to the clinical discipline focused on curing diseases. After completing my one-year residency, I started working in public health programs training skilled birth attendants in Bangladesh and got the first-hand experience of working in the field. It’s been 13 years, and I am still working in public health.

What excites you or motivates you about your research?

When I started working in the public health, many questions came to my mind. Although anecdotal evidence was ubiquitous, I was intrigued to find the scientifically sound answers to those questions. When I did my master’s degrees in health economics and population sciences, I was introduced to the research work. I started collecting data, cleaning and managing data, analyzing data, finally finding the results using the data. That was the most exciting part of doing research, when I came full circle and could answer my research question using data. My training as a researcher was enhanced while I was doing my PhD in Health Policy and Management at the University of South Carolina. I got a fellowship from the World Health Organization and collected data from over 1,000 tuberculosis patients in Bangladesh. Still, I get goosebumps when I do research work, maybe that’s called “passion.” I am truly passionate about my research work.

How have you partnered with communities to improve health? Is there service or outreach work you’d like to do in Athens or Georgia?

I believe partnering with the communities is the essential elements of my research. Without active involvement with the population, research is always devoid of the touch of reality. Currently, I am pursuing research on substance users, especially injection drug users. Therefore, I have connected the only Syringe Services Program (SSP) in Athens, Access Point Georgia. Access Point is providing clean syringes in exchange of used syringes, and I am supporting them in writing funding proposals.

What are you looking forward to this Fall semester?

I am teaching two courses this Fall – one for undergraduates, and one is graduate course. Apart from teaching, I am looking forward to building collaborations with my department colleagues on various research projects. I have also been selected for the TEAMS mentorship program, where I am getting one-on-one mentorship from Dr. Jayani Jayawardhana, associate professor in UGA’s College of Pharmacy. I am also collaborating with CPH folks on research projects. I will also assume the role of Chair of the HIV/AIDS section of American Public Health Association (APHA) after the annual meeting in October where I will be presenting 3 papers.

Last one – what do you do for fun?

Reading books is my favorite pastime. I also watch soccer on the weekends. Nowadays, spending time with my seven-month-old son Aimaan is my main fun activity.

Learn more about Dr. Haider’s background, areas of expertise, and research interests in his faculty profile.

Posted on September 2, 2021.