Alumni Profile

Portrait of Cho-Hee Shrader

Cho-Hee Shrader

Program: PhD in Prevention Science
Graduation Year: 2021
Employer: ICAP at Columbia University
Job Title: NIH T32 Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Cho-Hee Shrader (she/her), PhD, MPH, is an NIH T32 Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Global HIV Implementation Science and Substance Use Epidemiology at Columbia University. Dr. Shrader’s research explores the intersection of how social networks and neighborhood characteristics impact minority health disparities, such as HIV, stress, and substance use disorder among sexual, gender, and racial/ethnic minority communities. Dr. Shrader’s research interests empass both the global and the domestic South, focusing on Black, Latinx/e/o, and Caribbean sexual minority men and gender diverse people.

Additionally, Dr. Shrader’s research incorporates implementation science and its influences on HIV prevention intervention success. Dr. Shrader received her PhD in Prevention Science and Community Health which was funded by a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Minority Health Disparities. Her dissertation explored how personal social networks and neighborhood determinants influenced Latino/x men who have sex with men (LMSM) access to PrEP and PrEP-related information. Dr. Shrader received her MPH in Global Health from Emory University and completed her BS in Physiology at the University of Iowa and the University of Cape Town.


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  • What motivated you to study public health?

    As someone who has lived in 8 countries and visited over 45, I was struck by how health disparities reared its ugly head in every place I went to. We have no choice in the life we are born into, yet we are born into a world of racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, colorism, ableism, and all of those other -isms and -phobias that dominate our health outcomes. I was curious about how the intersections of discrimination can create a new type of discrimination (as Crenshaw and Bowleg have spent their lives investigating), and wanted to apply that to the field of HIV science. Several of my closest friends are living with HIV and seeing how those -isms affected their access to medications globally, and within the US, motivated me to study public health.

  • Why did you choose the University of Miami for your public health degree?

    I chose the University of Miami for a number of reasons. 1. Prevention science and community health was a new and exciting field- and because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, I wanted to focus my degree on how to prevent disease. 2. The U has some of the leading investigators in HIV science, excellent instructors, and is an excellent instutition for folks who want to pursue a career in academic research. I had so much support to receive NIH funding as a doctoral student. 3. The mentorship available at the U is absolutely phenomenal! I had the opportunity to be mentored by professors such as Mariano Kanamori, Justin Stoler, Adam Carrico, and Suzanne Doblecki-Lewis. And 4. The U is located in the city with the highest HIV incidence in the nation and it was important that the work that I do would benefit the local community. While at the U I learned that HIV and health disparities in Miami are complicated- but my decision to choose UM was not complicated at all!

  • Describe your career path:

    My career in public health began while working at a hospital in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I was struck by the health disparities that folks in Tanzania experienced: the hospital (at the time) had the only MRI machine and it would only be working "sometimes" due to an inconsistent electricity slow. I also interned at USAID in Dar es Salaam and met a number of USAID employees who spoke highly of their public health degree. I absolutely knew that I had to pursue my MPH! I attended Emory University and received an MPH in Global Health. While at Emory, I fell in love with academic research, monitoring and evaluation, and community-based work. After graduating, I worked at the AIDS Project East BAY (APEB) where I met a number of people who made me question my privileges in life and think critically about health disparities. The most influential person was the brilliant Legendary House Father George Mizrahi Jackson. He made me question the bubble that I lived in and encouraged me to think bigger and brighter. And so I decided to pursue a PhD in Prevention Science and Community Health at the U. While at the U, I received an NIH F31 from the NIMHD to support my scholarship, thanks to the support of my Sponsors and mentors. I also won second place and people's choice for the 3MT, which was awesome. I graduated and then received Postdoctoral training in Global HIV Implementation Science at ICAP at Columbia University. I am staying at Columbia U as a Postdoctoral Research in Substance Use Epidemiology. My next steps are to pursue a career in academic research so that I am also explore how to address HIV and other health disparities, while mentoring and teaching the next generation of scholars, as a professor!

  • How did you obtain your current position?

    Through networking- in a way! I reached out to a mentor that I REALLY wanted to work with for my postdoctoral research fellowship and at the time he didn't have funding to support a postdoc. Although this was disappointing to hear, a few weeks later, he FWDed me an email that said that the current fellowship that I am in was looking to hire ONE postdoc! I applied, and I was fortunate enough to be offered the position!

  • How did your degree prepare you for your current position?

    In terms of technical and "soft" skills, I learned how to run advanced social network and spatial analyses, disseminate scientific information through conference presentations and journal manuscripts to a diverse audience, communicate with others who may be from a different background than myself, work well on a team and try to understand different peoples strengths, AND learn how to teach and mentor the next generation of scholars.

  • What is your favorite part of your job?

    I love the time to be able to think about health disparities and how we can use social network and spatial science to move past those disparities and achieve health equity. I also love interacting with participants- hearing about their negative experiences due to structural issues really fuels me to try to contribute towards health equity. Recently, I also taught a course and I am thinking that teaching and hearing about all of the exciting student research is another favorite part of my job!

  • What are your long-term career plans/goals?

    My long term career plan is to be in the health equity and global health space as an academic researcher. I am a prevention scientist and a networks and neighborhoods analyst- I would love to continue in this trajectory. I would also like to be using decolonizing and anticolonial approaches to invest in global communities and empower the local workforce to make contributions towards health equity in their country. Specifically, I would love to work in the intersection of LGBTQ health and HIV prevention, with a focus on Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

  • What advice do you have for someone interested in your career path?

    The habit of persistence is the habit of victory. This is my life motto and what one of my best friends told me about a decade ago. Do not ever EVER give up!