Raed Bahelah

Degree: Ph.D. in Epidemiology

College/School: Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work

As a pediatrician in his native Yemen, Raed Bahelah saw hundreds of sick children. He’d give peanut butter to the malnourished and medicine to the ill. The children returned to houses without food or clean water. Eventually, they’d come back to see Raed. Sometimes they were worse; sometimes he could not save them. Raed wanted to break this devastating cycle.

Growing up the youngest of ten children, Raed always knew he wanted to help others. With the encouragement of his mother – who never learned to read or write – and the example set by his hardworking father, Raed followed this instinct.

In 2009, he received a Fulbright scholarship and attended Tulane University in New Orleans. Training in tuberculosis and STD clinics, he helped patients who were poor or undocumented immigrants. Raed once again experienced what he had as a pediatrician – that social and economic conditions were strong indicators of health.

With a growing interest in public health, Raed came to FIU and, under the guidance of Professor Wasim Maziak, produced groundbreaking research – including releasing the first ever study on the early symptoms of nicotine dependence among hookah smokers.

After graduation, Raed wants to continue his research by examining the long-term effects and possible treatment options for hookah smokers and hopes to secure a position as a professor in the U.S.