Brian King always joked that he was genetically predisposed to attend UB.
“My mother and father actually met while students at UB, and my aunt, uncle and grandfather also attended the university,” he said.
“However, I’m certain I would have enrolled at UB regardless of my familial ties. Since the moment I stepped foot on the North Campus as an undergraduate, I came to appreciate the diversity of the student body, the breadth of degree programs, and the extraordinary caliber of the faculty. Those feelings remained unaltered nearly 10 years later as I stepped foot off the South Campus after earning my PhD. The university as a whole, and particularly the School of Public Health and Health Professions, has a strong history of collaborative, interdisciplinary and innovative research that I’m proud to have been a part of.”
While King’s original plan was to attend medical school, he changed course during his junior year of undergraduate study when he started working in the inpatient pharmacy of a local hospital. “I realized prevention, and not just treatment, was crucial for combating adverse health outcomes at the population level,” he said. “This prompted me to pursue an MPH in epidemiology. It was during this time that I grew passionate about helping to build an evidence base to support public health policy and practice, particularly with regard to tobacco control.”
He then enrolled in UB’s PhD program in epidemiology. In addition to enjoying the camaraderie with students and faculty, King was impressed with the variety of experiences the program offered.
“Through UB’s strong collaborative relationship with Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, I was able to complete my doctoral training and dissertation research at a world-class comprehensive cancer center,” he said. “This collaborative arrangement allowed me to engage in countless experiences that I otherwise would not have had, including partnering with community and state stakeholders to promote sound public health policy, working with members of the media to disseminate my research findings, and traveling both domestically and abroad to scientific conferences and meetings.
“I was also afforded several opportunities to enhance my research skills through the funding support I received from UB’s multidisciplinary training program in cancer epidemiology.”
Upon graduation, King accepted a position as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officer at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The EIS is a two-year postgraduate training program in epidemiology, with a focus on fieldwork. EIS officers, more popularly known as “disease detectives,” are dispatched to investigate disease outbreaks, natural and human-caused disasters, and other public health emergencies throughout the country and the world.
King is currently the director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) and is responsible for assuring that CTP accomplishes its public health goals and for operationalizing the center’s vision and mission as it implements the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Previously working for the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health (OSH), the lead federal agency for comprehensive tobacco prevention and control in the United States, in 2013 King was appointed the senior scientific advisor for epidemiology in OSH. In that role, he was was responsible for developing and guiding the scientific and research agenda for the office. He also worked closely with federal, state and local officials to inform strategies to reduce the health burden and economic impact of tobacco-related disease and death.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t utilize the skills and knowledge that I acquired while a graduate student at UB,” said King. “The education I received at UB fully prepared me for my position. In fact, I often find that my academic skill set and experience is more robust than colleagues who were trained at Ivy League or other prestigious colleges and universities. My UB education not only prepared me for my field, but it also provided me with unparalleled networking opportunities. I still collaborate with many of the researchers who I was introduced to during my time as a UB graduate student.”