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Arnold School of Public Health

Epidemiologist Jingkai Wei boosts Arnold School expertise in cardiovascular disease, cognitive aging as assistant professor

September 20, 2021 | Erin Bluvas,

Following in the footsteps of his family, Jingkai Wei studied preventive medicine at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in his native China. He had grown up hearing stories of the pain patients experience due to severe chronic disease, so he began his education with an interest in this area. Those foundational courses introduced him to the complicated, costly nature of treating chronic disease and he began focusing on the prevention of these conditions at the population level.

“I always believe that a kind heart is the foundation for a successful career, and it is particularly true for people who work in public health."

-Jingkai Wei, assistant professor of epidemiology 

Wei moved to Atlanta, Georgia to earn a Master of Science in Public Health in Epidemiology at Emory University and then stayed on as a research associate at the institution’s Global Diabetes Research Center. He continued his studies with a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, followed by a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at George Washington University.

“I was very lucky to meet a lot of accomplished and amiable professors and have experiences that made me feel passionate about improving cardiovascular and cognitive health using the tools of epidemiology,” Wei says. “I am particularly interested in lifestyle factors, psychosocial factors and vascular risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and dementia.”

This fall, Wei brought his expertise in these areas to the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics as an assistant professor. He was drawn to UofSC because of the Arnold School’s reputation in the field of public health and its wealth of resources, such as the Office for the Study of Aging's Alzheimer’s Disease Registry and Aging Brain Cohort. Wei has already identified a number of faculty members with overlapping interests that will hopefully result in future collaborations.

“I felt that the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics has a very supportive environment, and I hope that I can bring my expertise on cardiovascular disease and cognitive aging to enrich the research in our department,” Wei says. He looks forward to applying novel epidemiological methods to better prevent cardiovascular disease and dementia and is committed to serving as an excellent instructor/mentor – helping students continuously grow in the field of epidemiology.

With nearly 40 papers published or under review/revision in peer-reviewed journals, Wei will continue to build his expertise and contribute to the field. He will also carry forward the perspective he adopted when he decided to focus on disease prevention more than a decade ago.

“I always believe that a kind heart is the foundation for a successful career, and it is particularly true for people who work in public health,” Wei says. “Instead of being absorbed in the small world of ourselves, we are always encouraged to love and care about others by understanding and communication.”

“Jingkai has strong expertise in advanced epidemiologic methods, and he applies these methods to carry out leading-edge research to address two of the biggest public health challenges of our time: cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline,” says Anthony Alberg, chair of the department. “Along with his altruism and passion for public health, Jingkai has a rare and exceptional combination of skills and gifts. We are so pleased Jingkai is joining the Arnold School of Public Health, where he will be a valued researcher, teacher and mentor.”

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