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Arnold School of Public Health

I Am Public Health: Chung Li Wu

October 3, 2022 | Erin Bluvas,

Chung Li Wu was an undergraduate student at Tamkang University in his native Taiwan when he found his calling. The mathematics major discovered the field of biostatistics during an introductory course in clinical trials and knew he had found his future profession.

“I realized from that course that I could contribute my mathematical talent to improve human life,” Wu says. “Since then, I’ve devoted myself to the field.”

After his 2013 graduation, Wu enrolled at National Yang Ming University to earn a master’s in biostatistics. He spent the following two years gaining practical experience as a research assistant in Taipei Veteran General Hospital’s Evidence-Based Medicine Center.

When Wu began looking at doctoral programs, UofSC rose to the top of his list due to its connection with National Taiwan University. The epidemiology and biostatistics department’s Ph.D. in Biostatistics program also offered a chance for Wu to work with professor James Hardin, whose expertise in correlated data was of particular interest to him.

“Dr. Hardin spent a great amount of time and effort to advise me on how to approach real-world problems with statistical thinking,” says Wu, who also found a mentor in James Hussey when working with the clinical associate professor as a teaching assistant. “Dr. Hussey’s teaching style and way of interpreting complex statistical concepts using accessible, real-life examples have always amazed me. Dr. Hardin and Dr. Hussey have both set a good example for me of what a successful statistician should be like.”

As a research assistant with the Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, Wu collaborated with behavioral scientists to conduct tobacco cessation research. They focused on how policies influence tobacco-related perceptions and behaviors, gaining new understanding as to how government guidelines could be developed to advance tobacco cessation.

During his program, Wu served as an active member in the American Statistical Association and delved deep into his favorite topic (correlated data), digging into areas such as statistical methods for repeated measurement. “I am particularly passionate about approaching real-world problems that exist in clinical trials with statistical language,” he says.

After graduating this fall, Wu plans to work in the area of drug development. He is excited to use his mathematical expertise to enhance the accuracy and efficiency of the drug discovery process.

“Think about which area you are interested in – whether it is Bayesian statistics, oncology, machine learning – or other topics,” Wu advises others who are interested in pursuing a degree in biostatistics. “Talk to the professors in advance to see whether what they are doing fits your personal goals. Then, enjoy the journey of your study at UofSC.”

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