Epidemiology
Section Newsletter
Spring 2011

Message from the Chair

Greetings to the Epidemiology Section,

As the academic year ends with graduation celebrations, we again read and hear about the proclamations delivered to the next generation of epidemiologists as they enter new research, teaching and public health practice careers.  These graduates have many exciting challenges and opportunities to ponder and investigate.  What approaches will the next generation of epidemiologists use to help the public understand the implications of:

-          A proposed link between cell phones and cancer?

-          Natural disasters such as tornadoes and flooding?

-          Murcomycosis following major wound injury?

-          Global epidemic of noncommunicable diseases?

I certainly look forward to learning from our new graduates!

Wishes for a safe and healthy summer to you, your colleagues and families,

Claudia Kozinetz

Third North American Congress of Epidemiology APHA Booth

Attending the 3rd North American Congress of Epidemiology in Montreal from June 21-24, 2011? Stop by the APHA Booth (#18 level 3) and receive 10 percent off all book orders, including the award winning Control of Communicable Diseases Manual.

Ezra Susser to Receive Rema Lapous Award for 2011

Ezra Susser, MD, DrPH professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health and professor of psychiatry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, has been selected to receive the 2011 APHA Rema Lapouse Award. The Rema Lapouse Award, presented annually to an exemplary scientist in the field of psychiatric epidemiology who has made significant contributions to the scientific understandings of the epidemiology and control of mental disorders, is granted by the APHA Mental Health, Biostatistics and Epidemiology Sections. The award will be presented during the APHA Annual Meeting by former Rema Lapouse awardee and  Rema Lapouse Awards Committee Chair Dr. C. Hendricks Brown. The APHA Annual Meeting will take place beginning Oct. 29, 2011 through Nov. 2, 2011 in Washington, D.C. 

    

Dr. Susser received his MD and MPH from Columbia University in 1982. He obtained his DrPH a decade later from the same university. One theme in Dr. Susser’s early research was to study the course of psychoses and the potential for partial or full recovery.  He contributed to the understanding of ICD-10 Acute and Transient Psychotic Disorders by showing that these conditions had a tenfold higher incidence in developing than developed countries, that they often persisted for 2-4 months before full recovery, and that they differed from other nonaffective psychoses in their subsequent course in both developed and developing countries. These results are being used for revision of Acute and Transient Disorders in ICD-11.  A related series of studies pertained to the relationships between homelessness and mental illness and the improvement of services for homeless people with psychotic disorders. Together with Elie Valencia and Sarah Conover, he developed and tested (in a randomized controlled trial) Critical Time Intervention (CTI) for prevention of recurrence of homelessness among people with severe mental illness.  CTI is now being adapted for a variety of contexts (e.g. former prisoners returning to the community; new users of services; indigenous peoples), in many locales spanning the United States, Europe, Australia and Latin America.  This early work provided the foundation for his long-term and ongoing commitment to global mental health, with a primary (though not exclusive) focus on the care of people with psychoses.  Since 1995, he has been involved in supporting programs of community care in Argentina and South Africa.  Later this work extended to other countries in Latin America, to Central Asia, and, most recently, to other countries in Africa.

 

A second theme in his early research was the investigation of prenatal exposures that might influence the development of schizophrenia in adulthood.  He discovered a relationship between exposure to famine in early gestation and onset of schizophrenia in adulthood. He is exploring the pathways that might explain this association, including the interplay between genes and this environmental exposure (genetic epidemiology is also a longstanding interest and now extends to epigenetic studies). Currently, he is working together with Norwegian investigators to study neurodevelopmental disorders in a pregnancy cohort of approximately 110,000 births in Norway. This work naturally extended to a more general interest in life course epidemiology, and studies examining several points along the life course and health outcomes in multiple domains. He has also promoted and developed the use of sibling comparisons in epidemiology, which are particularly useful for the investigation of prenatal exposures.

 

A third theme in his early research was cross-cultural research. This interest is now expressed in three main threads of research. First, he is deeply involved with Dutch investigators who are elucidating the causes of the high incidence of psychosis among certain immigrant/ethnic minority groups in the Hague. Second, he has initiated together with Jonathan Burns (University of Kwazulu-Natal) the groundwork for what they plan to be the first incidence study of psychoses in Africa. Third, cross-cultural work is central to the Global Mental Health Program noted earlier.

 

During Dr. Susser’s nine year tenure as chair of epidemiology, he was the lead author of the only current (other than edited) textbook on psychiatric epidemiology. In addition, one of his top priorities was to create the capacity in the department to respond to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. Among other things, he encouraged and recruited faculty and students, fostered the development of global HIV/AIDS programs (led by others) which are now world renowned, and was a steadfast advocate. He also worked on the prevention of HIV/AIDS in people with severe mental illness.

 

Currently, in addition to co-leading a Global Mental Health Program, Dr. Susser heads the Imprints Center for Genetic and Environmental Lifecourse Studies, which fosters collaborative research and intellectual exchange among investigators studying developmental origins in birth cohorts across the globe. Imprints brings together multiple disciplines, and the seminars are sponsored jointly by the Department of Epidemiology, the Institute of Human Nutrition and the Department of Neurodevelopmental Neuroscience at the Psychiatric Institute.  A NIDDK training grant emerged from this process (PIs Debra Wolgemuth, IHN and Ezra Susser). It is designed to train basic scientists and population health researchers in the arena outside their parent discipline (e.g. train basic scientists in population health), to facilitate effective collaboration with investigators in the “other” arena.  He is also involved in numerous other training programs, perhaps most notably, as co-Director of the Psychiatric Epidemiology Training Program at Columbia.

 

Finally, Dr. Susser is president of the American Psychopathological Association in 2012, arguably the professional organization most closely related to psychiatric epidemiology and public mental health (not counting specific sections of larger bodies such as the Mental Health Section of APHA).

Epidemiology Section Membership Survey

As many of you know, the Epidemiology Section conducted a web survey of Current Members during the months of September and October of 2010.  All Section members with working e-mails were sent an initial e-mail and two follow-up invitations to participate in the survey.  The e-mail invitations contained a link to the survey instrument.  A total of 1,085 responses (a 47 percent response rate) were received by Oct. 30, 2010, when the survey was closed. Thank you to all of those who were able to participate.

 

The purpose of the survey was to find out more about our Section members and to provide us with information that we can be used to plan our future Section activities.  A Data Subcommittee of our Section Membership and Communications Committee is working to analyze the responses.  We plan to post a summary report on the Epidemiology Section’s website some time this summer.

 

We are also conducting a New Section Member survey so that we can link new members with the Section committees that might interest them.

Expertise Database

This past spring the Epidemiology Section launched a new initiative. The Expertise Database has been designed to identify, and potentially engage, Epi Section members where their efforts could be most fruitful – that is, in their respective areas of expertise.

 

As many APHA members are aware, the official stance taken by APHA on a variety of issues is based upon its written and approved policies. These policies are frequently generated and written by APHA members, and voted upon at the APHA Annual Meeting. Once adopted, they inform the Association and its members as to the official stance of APHA and help inform advocacy efforts. These policies are therefore critical to the relevance of APHA to current and historical events, and as an advocacy guide at the local, national and even global level.

 

There is a recognized need within APHA to ensure that existing and proposed policies are not only relevant, but also scientifically accurate. To that end, proposed and existing policies are subject to general member and Governing Council review before voting and adoption, or archiving if outdated or superseded. In order to make policy review, and even new policy development, as scientifically sound as possible, subject matter experts are often engaged. However, it is frequently difficult to find subject matter experts to review policies due for possible archiving, and also to review proposed policies for accuracy. While such expertise likely resides within APHA membership, it is difficult to find and engage such members through the current process.

 

The Epi Section Expertise Database was created to address this issue. In April 2011, a Section-wide e-mail was sent to all Epi Section members, asking them to submit their name, degrees, general and specific specialties, affiliation and preferred contact method. Data from the replies were placed into a spreadsheet that can be used to find individuals with a general or specific expertise (e.g. chronic disease epidemiology). This first outreach resulted in 121 replies. Academic degrees reported include a large number of PhDs, MDs, and MPHs, as well as an assortment of other degrees less frequently associated with epidemiology, including MDiv, MBA, DrPH, JD and DNP. While many reported epidemiology as their general specialization, others listed health administration, biostatistics and medicine. Epidemiology was frequently qualified into more specific categories, such as infectious or chronic disease, health disparity, preventive medicine, cancer and cancer prevention. Finally, the specific specializations ran the full gamut of what one may expect, including such areas as sexually transmitted infections, racial health disparities, drug and alcohol abuse, medical topics (e.g. psychiatrics, pediatrics), foodborne pathogens, diabetes, and pregnancy-related health issues.   

 

We hope that this database will be of use for a variety of purposes. First, we hope that will be useful as a resource to APHA as a whole to assist with the development of policies. Authors may be able to identify a specific subject matter expert to provide policy review and guidance upon request. Second, we hope that it may be useful to APHA and sections during the annual policy review seasons. Again, it may be easier to judge the accuracy and relevancy of a policy more easily if a subject matter expert can be found to provide an objective yet thorough review. Finally, we hope that this may become a mechanism to engage more members in both the policy process and APHA as a whole. Many members are already busy with their current positions and other activities and do not make a point of volunteering for work for their Section, or even participate in their Section’s conference calls and activities. However, this does not necessarily mean that they are unwilling to lend their expertise and spend some of their time if they believe that it will be for a worthwhile reason. By releasing their information into this database, members agree to be contacted for such occasions. The database should hopefully become a win-win situation for all parties: APHA will have organized source of available expertise, and members will have a means to become more involved when the request matches their interests.

 

Need-based scholarships available for students to attend Annual Meeting

APHA is proud to announce the availability of need-based scholarships, sponsored by External Medical Affairs, Pfizer Inc., for student members to attend the 139th Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., from Oct. 29-Nov. 2, 2011.  Twelve students will be granted registration and up to a $500 stipend to use toward food, lodging and transportation.  An additional four students will be given Annual Meeting registration only.  Recipients of the scholarships will be chosen based on financial need and essay.  As part of the award, students will be strongly encouraged to attend at least one Section business meeting. 

 

Please inform the student members of your Section about this unique opportunity! 

Visit: www.apha.org/meetings/registration/scholarship for complete details and application. 

Please contact Pooja Bhandari at pooja.bhandari@apha.org with any questions.

Genomics Forum Updates

The Genomics Forum is an official component of APHA .  We currently have 903 members representative of a diverse genetics and public health community.  Our members are academic researchers, community leaders, nurses, social workers, physicians, genetic counselors, students, advocates and much more from across the globe.  We share a common interest in assuring that genomics is researched and applied responsibly for individual and community health.  As always, we would like to invite you to join the forum, include an article in our upcoming newsletter, share resources and/or collaborate with us on projects.

Read about our exciting updates below and find out more about joining Genomics Forum.

The Gene by Environment Work Group

The Gene by Environment Work Group aims at reviewing and assessing gene by environment interaction knowledge and developments to identify, assess and recommend applications relevant to people’s health, as well as the implications of gene by environment interaction knowledge for research, teaching and practice.

The group’s goal is to produce a framework for public health practitioners to be able to evaluate, participate in and produce high quality studies targeted at the interface between the macro/population and micro/genetic environments. A critical component of this will be tracking developments in epidemiology specifically, in order to provide guidance in statistical methods now being developed to support these types of studies. To join the Gene by Environment Work Group, please contact Rigel Christian at
rchristi@jhsph.edu or Nora Isack at noraisack@gmail.com or visit www.genomicsforum.org.

The Policy Committee

The Policy Committee is happy to announce the acceptance of its policy statement, “Strengthening Genetic and Genomic Literacy.” This policy statement addresses genetic and genomic literacy as a public health workforce competency and its implications for public health in general. To read the entire statement check out http://www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/default.htm?id=1407.

The Policy Committee is now working on its next policy statement, focusing on cancer genetics. The Policy Committee would love your input as they move forward. To join, please e-mail Nora Isack at noraisack@gmail.com or visit www.genomicsforum.org.

Joining Genomics Forum

The Genomics Forum serves as a venue to explore our diverse perspectives on how this is best achieved through the work of our committees, workgroups and at our Annual Meeting.

Ways to become involved:

*  Join the Forum (it's free)

* Like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. Links can be found at our website.

* Participate in a committee

     Work on updating the APHA policies on genomics and public health

     Help design the annual program at APHA

     Support networking amongst Genomics Forum members and beyond

        

* Participate in a working group

  

   Translational Genomics

   Workforce Development

   Healthcare Policy

   Gene-Environment

 

If you are interested in participating in the Work Groups please Join the Committee here

 

* Participate in a webinar

 

Sponsored by the APHA Genomics Forum, Genetic Alliance, and the Center for Public Health and Community Genomics. For additional session information please see the descriptions on the Genetic Alliance Website.

 

* Submit articles or events

 

Publish an article or event you are holding in our newsletter or blog by e-mailing Membership and Communications Chair Nicole Exe. Notify our membership about an article or event on our Facebook or Twitter by contacting Nora Isack.

Epidemiology Section Booth Annual Poll – Submit Your Ideas!

During the 2010 annual conference, the Epidemiology Section Membership Committee sponsored an opinion poll querying “Who is the Mother of Epidemiology”?  Booth visitors were asked to read the brief biographies of each nominee (i.e., Alice Hamilton, Florence Nightingale, and Janet Elizabeth Lane-Claypon) and to cast their vote. Results were announced at the Epidemiology Section social, and as previously reported in the winter 2011 newsletter, the winner was Alice Hamilton with 42% of the votes.  The poll was a fun mechanism to encourage engagement and interaction at the booth.

In preparation for the 2011 annual conference, the Membership Committee would like to solicit your ideas for the next opinion poll question to be posed at the upcoming conference in Washington, DC.  Please submit your creative and epidemiology-related ideas to Lauren Zapata at Lzapata@cdc.gov

Thank you for your interest and participation.

From the APHA Transportation Division

These are exciting times when considering the many ways our transportation systems impact health and equity in our communities. Congress extended the current federal surface transportation bill until Sep. 30, 2011, and Congressional committees are aiming to draft a new transportation bill before this latest extension ends.

 

Want to learn more about the connections between transportation, equity and health? View our archived webinar series, subscribe to the monthly transportation and health eNewsletter that offers an array of new events and updates, and download the newly-released online public health and transportation toolkit and accompanying resources today.


We also invite you to send a message to your members of Congress urging that they ensure that strong public health provisions are included in the federal surface transportation reauthorization. For more information, visit http://apha.org/transportation.

Update on APHA Book Publications – June 2011

I am very pleased to announce that there are a number books in production as well proposals for books that have been accepted, and work on them is under way.  Furthermore, several authors of current products will be available to sign their books at the fall APHA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

APHA members of all Sections are encouraged to using existing, new and emerging products in their academic courses. These resources are also very relevant to policy, prevention, advocacy and client care initiatives. Please encourage your colleagues to use these timely and evidence-based resources.  Go to the APHA website to find out more: www.aphabookstore.org. 

We are also looking for new proposals for books. If you have an idea for a book, please send a few paragraphs describing the idea, intended audience and your qualifications to Nina Tristani, director of publications, APHA, at nina.tristani@apha.org.

Thank you for supporting APHA Books and promoting these products.

Norman Giesbrecht, PhD, Chair, APHA Publications Board

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New

  • Environmental Health and Racial Equity in the United States, Authors: Robert D. Bullard, PhD; Glenn S. Johnson, PhD; and Angel O. Torres, MCP

Books at Printer in June

  • Megacities and Public Health
  • Omar Khan, MD, MHS
  • Public Health Management of Disasters, 3rd edition, Linda Landesman

Books Currently in Production

  • Injury Prevention for Children and Adolescents: Research Practice, and Advocacy, 2nd edition, Karen D. Liller, PhD
  • School-Based Health Care, Terri Wright, MPH and Jeanita Richardson, PhD

 

Books in Development

  • Control of Communicable Diseases Manual, 20th Edition
  • Control of Communicable Diseases Lab Book
  • Compendium of Methods for the Examination of Foods, 5th Edition
  • Caring for Our Children, 3rd edition
  • Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater, 22nd edition

E-Books

  • Communicating Public Health Information Effectively is now on Kindle.

Co-sponsored Books

Jossey-Bass: Emerging Infectious Diseases published in April 2011.

Jones and Bartlett Learning books to be published before the 2011 annual meeting: Essentials of Biostatistics in Public Health, Essential Case Studies in Public Health: Putting Public Health into Practice, Global Health 101, Field Epidemiology in Public Health Practice, Epidemiology in Women's Health, Essentials of Health, Culture and Diversity, Epidemiology of Chronic Disease, Introduction to Air Pollution Science, and Essentials of Program Planning and Evaluation.

 

APHA and Wiley also are co-publishing Designing Healthy Communities by Richard Jackson.  The book is a companion to a PBS series to air this fall.