Brudy ’16 publishes first-author paper in Ph.D. program

Hastings College 2016 graduate Leon Brudy had his first-author paper, which compares the daily physical activity of children congenital heart disease (CHD) with healthy peers, published in February in The Journal of Pediatrics. While he graduated with political science and economics majors, Brudy, who played soccer at Hastings, also had an interest in using science to improve athletic performance and to stay healthy. An opportunity in a pediatrics program while pursuing his masters led Brudy to the subject.

Brudy’s paper, “Children with Congenital Heart Disease Are Active but Need to Keep Moving: A Cross-Sectional Study Using Wrist-Worn Physical Activity Trackers,” looked into whether patients with CHD collect less physical activity in terms of daily steps and active minutes than other, healthy individuals.

Brudy ’16 with his research poster.

In the past, he said, research done on children with CHD was focused on survival of the patients, however, the focus has shifted to prevention and health promotion. In the past 20 years, research has found importance in studying the benefits of physical activity for patients with CHD.

“We know physical activity helps with general well-being, and my research tries to find out how physically active CHD patients are, to determine whether or not an intervention is needed,” he said.

The findings in the study, which had seven co-authors, showed that a majority of children with CHD were sufficiently active considering compared to healthy peers — although physical activity needs to be promoted to those who may be overweight or with complex CHD severity.

The Appenweier, Germany, native pursued his masters at the Technical University Munich, studying health science with an emphasis on prevention and health promotion.

“Alongside athletic performance, I was interested in learning the science behind the human body and how to use it for an advantage on the field,” he said, but during that time, he was invited to work alongside the chair of Preventive Pediatrics as a scientific student assistant.

The chair had close cooperation with the Outpatient Clinic for Pediatric Cardiology and Congenital Heart Defects of the German Heart Center Munich. Brudy had the opportunity to help with a research project on cardiovascular risk in adults with congenital heart disease.

In 2018, after graduating from his master’s program, Brudy’s work inspired him to continue with a Ph.D. studying Physical Activity Behavior in Patients with CHD.

“After finishing, I thought about getting a doctorate, and when the opportunity opened to continue studying on the work I did in my master’s program, it felt like the perfect fit,” he said.

Brudy said his Hastings College professors prepared him for his post-undergraduate studies. As a political science major, he took many classes with professors of political science.

“It wasn’t always fun to keep up with all the readings and work on seemingly endless literature research, but when I continued to graduate school, I was well prepared by what I had learned at Hastings College,” he said.

In addition to Brudy, authors on the paper were Julia Hock, Anna-Luisa Hacker, Michael Meyer, Renate Oberhoffer, Alfred Hager, Peter Ewert, and Jan Muller.

By Courtney Hanson, a junior from Brookings, South Dakota, majoring in communication studies and philosophy and religion

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