A summer spent in Egypt brought health inequalities to light for Columbia MD/PhD student Abdul El-Sayed, and he returned determined to help reduce them in the United States.
Now in the research years of the program, El-Sayed investigates "how does education or race or income translate into poorer health, and at what points in people's lives does it make the most impact."
We spoke to El-Sayed about the transformative experience he had in an Egyptian hospital taking care of his grandfather, and how his life as the son of Egyptian immigrants shapes his view of America. "I can see my society from the lens of an 'other'", he says.
El-Sayed still sees patients through a unique course in the Columbia MD/PhD program that helps students keep their clinical skills fresh before they return to the clinic. "Seeing patients gives me an understanding of exactly what health inequalities look like," he says. "It's easy to think in the abstract. Patients gives you faces and stories behind the numbers."