Section Newsletter
Fall 2008

Welcome to the Fall 2008 Epidemiology Section Newsletter!

A Letter from the Section Chair


Summer is over, and autumn is at our doorstep. As the year closes, the “cycles” of public health begin again. Classes are starting up for students and faculty. Health departments are gearing up for new or continuing initiatives, federal funding year transitions and ’09 state and local legislative responsibilities, and whatever else comes their way — including responding to needs generated by recent impacts of hurricanes in the southeastern United States and stretched budgets. As the rest of us in the United States watches, federal public health officials also face increasingly uncertain times, financially and politically, with pending 2009 federal budget enactments from Congress and upcoming changes in presidential administration. Much has happened that may impact the stability and capacity of public health, including those of us practicing epidemiology.


APHA, the largest public health membership organization in the United States, is also busy and on the watch. Fortuitously, autumn also brings new opportunities to share ideas and scientific and programmatic findings with colleagues, to network, and to renew our energy at APHA’s Annual Meeting (coming up in San Diego, starting Sunday Oct. 24) and at our local state public health association meetings.


Rather than waxing on about the Epidemiology Section’s terrific Annual meeting program, let me just invite all of you to join us in San Diego in October! Thank you to all who submitted abstracts, organized sessions, and are presenting posters/talks and moderating sessions at our upcoming program!


To plan your days there, please take a look at the wide-ranging topics to be discussed at our Section’s Program Sessions, listed at the APHA Annual Meeting Web site link for the most updated program information. We are very excited about the special invited session addressing this year’s important and relevant meeting theme, Public Health Without Borders, from various perspectives. Again, special thanks to Dr. Aaron Mendelsohn, Dr. Karyn Heavner, and the members of our Program Committee for their hard work!


In this newsletter issue, we Epidemiology Section leaders highlight some other Annual Meeting events we hope you and your colleagues will plan on attending while in San Diego. Here are five quick make-the-most-of-your-meeting tips:


·       Tip #1: Get acquainted with what the Epidemiology Section and its leadership are up to, and think about getting involved. Come meet some of our continuing and new Section leaders and hear from candidates for APHA’s Executive Board and others (Saturday and Sunday nights only)! Help us plan for next year (esp. on Tuesday morning). Please join us at our working Section business meetings (locations also listed in the APHA meeting program):

1) Business Meeting I, Session 123.0 on Saturday Oct. 25, 7-10 p.m.,  SDCC (San Diego Convention Center), Meeting Room 28A

2) Business Meeting II, Session 294.0 on Sunday Oct. 26, 6-10 p.m., SDCC, Meeting Room 28A

3) Business Meeting III, Session 402.0 on Tues Saturday Oct. 28, 6:30-8 a.m., SDCC, Meeting Room 28A            


·       Tip #2: Come celebrate with and listen to some of epidemiology’s best, at our two Epidemiology Section awards sessions.

1. Awards Ceremony (honoring our distinguished career award winners and hearing an engaging Wade Hampton Frost Lecture), Monday at 2:30 p.m., at the SDCC, Meeting Room 6D/E.  NOTE: this is earlier in the day than past years!

2. Student Awards and Careers Panel Session (honoring Section Student and the College Board Young Epidemiology Scholarship (YES) Award winners and hearing about and discussing careers in epidemiology with senior epidemiologists working in diverse public health settings), Tuesday at 10:30 a.m., at the SDCC, Meeting Room 31C.  


NOTE: We encourage all students and professionals to attend BOTH sessions and then to continue talking at the social! Special thanks to Drs. Claudia Kozinetz, Kristopher Fennie, Aaron Mendelsohn, and the other members of the Awards Committees for selecting this year’s outstanding winners!  


·       Tip #3: If you want to hear from, and discuss with, leaders in epidemiology where our field might be headed in the next 5-10 years, plan on attending our featured “Future of Epidemiology” Session, organized this second year by the Joint Policy Committee (JPC) of the Congress of Epidemiology Societies, Monday, Oct.  27, 2008, 12:30 - 2 p.m. in Room 7A of the San Diego Convention Center (SDCC). (See more details below.)


·       Tip #4: Don’t miss your chance to meet new colleagues and mentors and to continue networking at our Annual Epidemiology Section Social, offsite at the Café Sevilla, close by the Convention Center, 6:30-9 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 28. Space will be limited and you must have tickets this year, available for a nominal price at the Section Booth in the Exhibit Hall for as long as they last. Several Section leaders will have a few tickets on them at the conference’s start, so you might try visiting one of the business meetings, especially Saturday or Sunday night, if you or your colleagues can’t make it to the booth.  Tickets usually go fast, so make that one of your first stops when the Exhibit Hall opens Sunday.


·       Tip #5: Please visit the Epidemiology Section Booth! Come talk to Section leaders and find out more about the Section, get your Section badge labels and pins, pick up a listing of the Section Program for the conference, buy a ticket for the Social and more!  (Check the Exhibit Hall directory for our Booth Number.) 


And don’t forget about the coming call for abstracts for the next meeting in Philadelphia next year. Start looking for the call in January 2009 on the APHA Web site.


As Chair of the Section, I give warm thanks to you all for the continued opportunity to lead our Section and for the incredible work and dedication of all of our Section leaders.


See you all in San Diego in October!


Yours truly,

Dr. Jim Gaudino

Chair, Epidemiology Section



Contact Information for several other Section leaders:

(Please check our Web site for a complete list of contacts for Section leaders):


Mr. Elquemedo Oscar Alleyne

Section Secretary and Newsletter Editor



Dr. Kristopher P. Fennie,

Chair, Public Health Practice Award Sub-Committee


Dr. Sonja S. Hutchins,

Chair, Section Policy Committee



Dr. Claudia A Kozinetz,

Chair-Elect, Epidemiology Section and Chair, Section Awards Committee



Dr. Aaron Mendelsohn,

Section Program Chair and Chair, Student Awards Sub-Committee  



Dr. Howell C. Sasser,

Governing Counil Whip, Epidemiology Section



Dr. Stanley H. Weiss

Immediate Past Chair, Epidemiology Section

weiss@umdnj.edu  and  stanleyweiss@comcast.net


For more information about the Section, please visit the APHA Epidemiology Section Web pages and Section newsletters, which are archived & accessible to members.


Annual Meeting Award Sessions

Annual Meeting Award Sessions:  Snow, Lilienfeld, Frost, Public Health Practice and Students of Epidemiology


            The Section’s awards sessions provide venues for reflection upon the accomplishments and challenges met by epidemiologists in public health.  They also provide an opportunity to learn from outstanding scientists and practitioners.  The presentation of awards is a significant aspect of our Section’s traditions; we hope you plan to attend during the Annual Meeting in San Diego.


            The 2008 format for the awards sessions has changed.  We will honor our career awardees on Monday, Oct. 27 from 2:30 to 4 p.m. and our student awardees on Tuesday, Oct. 28 from 10:30 a.m. to noon.  (See the separate article in this newsletter for more information on the Student Award session)


Career Awards


            Five career awards will be presented to highlight inspiring and talented epidemiologists and public health organizations.  The John Snow Award, which is sanctioned by the John Snow Society and recognizes an outstanding epidemiologist for excellence in epidemiologic practice or research, will be presented to Julie E. Buring, ScD.  Dr. Buring, professor, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, has focused her research on chronic diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease and cancer, especially among women.  She has spearheaded the issue of representation of women as participants in clinical trials and has proclaimed, “Gathering the best information on women’s health requires a portfolio of approaches.  Both single-sex and mixed-sex trials, if well designed and conducted, will provide much-needed data for use in improving the cardiovascular, and general health of women” (NEJM;343:505-506).


            The Abraham Lilienfeld award, which recognizes excellence in the teaching of epidemiology during the course of the year, will be presented to George Rhoads, MD, MPH.  Dr. Rhoads is professor and acting chair, Department of Epidemiology, University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey School of Public Health.  Child health, with topics ranging from childhood lead poisoning prevention to the National Children’s Study, is what we think of when we hear the name ‘George Rhoads.’  A former student of Dr. Rhoads’ reflected: “Dr. Rhoads was an extremely thoughtful, flexible, and astute advisor……I learned from Dr. Rhoads that the core principles of epidemiology are most important to a rigorous and meaningful study, and without that, even the most sophisticated techniques can be misinterpreted.

            The Wade Hampton Frost Lecture Award, which recognizes a person who has made a significant contribution to addressing a public health issue of major importance by applying epidemiologic methods, will be presented to Ana V. Diez-Roux, MD, PhD, MPH.  Dr. Diez-Roux is professor of epidemiology and Director, Center for Integrative Approaches to Health Disparities and Associate director, Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, University of Michigan School of Public Health.  Her areas of concentration include: neighborhood health effects; socioeconomic position; understanding place effects on health; and integrating social and biologic factors in health research.  Dr. Diez-Roux will also give the Wade Hampton Frost Lecture during Monday’s award session.

            The Public Health Practice Award has been designed by the Epidemiology Section to recognize the use of epidemiologic methods in an innovative and creative public health program or project. This is an important award that gives the Epidemiology Section a chance to recognize significant accomplishments of a person or program with respect to the practice of public health grounded in epidemiologic tradition and soundness.  This year we are awarding the Public Health Practice Award for an individual to Dawn Terashita, MD, MPH, and the Public Health Practice Award for an organization to the Chicago Recovery Alliance.


            Dr. Terashita is a medical epidemiologist for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Her work centers on infectious disease surveillance.  She identified the need for improved communication and information exchange with hospital infection control professionals (ICP) and created of a new team of public health nurses called the Hospital Outreach Unit Liaison Project to improve communication and response among ICPs and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.


            Chicago Recover Alliance (CRA) is a non-profit organization that has provided evidence-based services to a large proportion of the injection drug using community in Chicago and nearby suburbs for 16 years.  Through its syringe exchange, overdose prevention and response, and hepatitis vaccination programs, it has reduced the burden of harms associated with addiction to injectable narcotic drugs.  It is because of the use of epidemiology to inform their programs, the quality of programs, and the courage that CRA workers have to implement evidence-based programs, that may be unpopular with the current U.S. government administration, that we wish to present CRA with this award.

The Epi Student Corner

Greetings Students!


Hopefully, you enjoyed the summer and had some time to relax before starting the new academic year.  We hope that you have started making plans to attend the upcoming APHA Annual Meeting in San Diego. Students have always been crucial participants in the Epidemiology Section.  By attending the business meetings or scientific sessions, students can learn about the dynamic and diverse career opportunities in epidemiology and network with leaders in the field.  The Section also welcomes interested students to volunteer for more active rolls by participating in committees such as the Program Planning Committee, reviewing abstracts for the Annual Meeting or working at the Epidemiology Section booth at the Annual Meeting.

We wanted to highlight a few activities at this year’s APHA Annual Meeting that may be of particular interest to students in the Epidemiology Section:


Epidemiology Section Student Awards and Career Session. One way in which the Epidemiology Section shows its support for students is through the Section Student Awards.  All students who submit an abstract to the Epidemiology Section describing research conducted during undergraduate or graduate training are eligible for consideration for a student award. We are proud to announce the Student Awards Committee selected the following as the 2008 Student Award Winners:


o       Orquídea Frías-Belén, University of Puerto Rico.  Association between increased body mass index and self-reported asthma in the Puerto Rican population.

o       Tomas Nuño, University of Arizona.  Assessment of a promotora-administered educational program to promote breast and cervical cancer screening in a rural community along the U.S.-Mexico border.

o       Heidi D. Sato, TUI University.  Predicting foodborne outbreaks at restaurants: Results of a risk assessment model.

o       Melissa Y. Wei, Oregon Health and Sciences University.  Vitamin D and prevention of colorectal adenoma.  A meta-analysis. 


Congratulations to the Student Award winners!  And thank you to all the students who contribute to the Section.  Your hard work is most appreciated. 


This session will also be a wonderful opportunity to recognize other students for their work and learn about career pathways from senior epidemiologists.

(Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.) 


Epidemiology Section Social Event. The social event will be a great chance to meet and network with other epidemiologists in APHA in an informal setting. It also serves as a great networking opportunity with your mentor. Please note the event is limited to 100 people and requires a ticket. Please inquire about tickets at the APHA Epidemiology Section booth (price to be announced shortly).


Epidemiology Section Booth. Please drop by our Section booth to meet other members of the Section and to learn about other ongoing activities in the Section. If you are able to volunteer to staff the booth, there are several afternoon time slots still available. Please contact us if you are interested in helping out.


Career Awards Session. Come and listen to lectures from senior epidemiologists who are being recognized for their great work! (Monday afternoon)


Epidemiology Section Business Meetings. The business meetings are open to students and will give you a sense of the depth and breadth of activities of the Epidemiology Section. It may provide an opportunity to find out how you can get involved with the Section! You maybe introduced to a new mentor and receive great ideas and insights from senior epidemiologists.


We are continuously encouraging all APHA student members to get involved in the Epidemiology Section to develop invaluable leadership experience within APHA, to advocate for the continued involvement of students within APHA, and to help build more collaborative opportunities within APHA. Please feel free to contact either of us if you have any suggestions for how to better include the public health student voice in the Epidemiology Section of APHA.


Submitted by Student Assembly Epidemiology Student Section Liaisons

Lisa Oakley            oakelyl@onid.orst.edu

Hannah Yang            hayang@jhsph.edu

The Future of Epidemiology

Are you interested in the future of epidemiology?


The Epidemiology Section and the Joint Policy Committee of the Societies of Epidemiology will sponsor a special session on this topic on Monday, Oct.  27, 2008, 12:30 - 2 p.m. in Room 7A of the San Diego Convention Center.


You’ve doubtless heard that a few very vocal critics have suggested that epidemiology departments should be closed because epidemiology is no longer useful in the 21st century.  They argue that we have found all that we can find using what they view as  increasingly limited epidemiologic methods. Even the New York Times months back raised doubts about the usefulness of epidemiologic studies. On top of this, the NIH seems to be paying limited attention to epidemiology in its future planning and funding. 


Is epidemiology becoming a limited, less useful tool for informing public health and clinical sciences and public policy or will it remain fundamental set of methods necessary for public health?  What do you think the future looks like?


This symposium will examine the challenges and opportunities facing the field of epidemiology in the next 10 years. A panel of distinguished epidemiologists will present their views. 

Panelists include:


Robert A. Hiatt, MD, PhD, professor and co-chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).  He is also director of Population Science and deputy director of the UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center and a senior scientist for the national Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in Oakland. Dr. Hiatt will discuss the role of epidemiology in uniting scientists, professionals and others in a transdisciplinary problem-solving approach to important health and health care problems.


Elizabeth A. Bancroft, MD, SM, medical epidemiologist at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.  She obtained her medical degree from Cornell University and a masters in clinical epidemiology from Harvard.  She is a graduate of the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service and board certified in Preventive Medicine.  She currently specializes in infectious disease and disability epidemiology.  She is a member of the APHA Science Board. Dr. Bancroft will discuss the challenges facing epidemiologists at local health departments as emphasis changes from infectious diseases to chronic diseases. 


Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, MD, distinguished professor and division chief of epidemiology in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.  She is a past chair of the Epidemiology Section of the APHA. Dr. Barrett-Connor will speak about future considerations in nutritional epidemiology, particularly issues related to obesity.


Roberta Ness, MD, MPH, chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh.  She will become dean of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston's School of Public Health on Jan. 1, 2009.  She is the immediate past chair of the Joint Policy Committee of the Societies of Epidemiology, and the president-elect of the American College of Epidemiology. Dr. Ness will discuss recommendations for future development of the field of epidemiology. 


The session will be moderated by Ruth Etzel, MD, PhD, from the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services in Washington, D.C.  Come to learn more about the challenges and opportunities facing epidemiology and participate in a dialogue about strategies for the future. Audience participation is strongly invited.


This special symposium is the second to be offered by the Joint Policy Committee of the Societies of Epidemiology, which represents a consortium of over 20 separate epidemiologic societies.  Offered under the auspices of the APHA Epidemiology Section, it is the second of what we expect will continue to be an annual joint event.

Epi Section Booth

We need volunteers to staff the Epi Section Booth at the Annual Meeting.  The booth display at the Annual Meeting is a perfect opportunity to showcase our Section and connect with other professionals, students and colleagues of epidemiology.

Contact Victor Ilegbodu to volunteer!

Section Invitations

Invitation to Contribute to our Newsletter  


We continue to look for your ideas and contributions for our quarterly newsletter. If you have an important announcement or would like to briefly highlight some important epidemiologic findings, please contact Mr. Oscar Alleyne.  Help us keep the newsletter relevant to you!  The next deadline for newsletter items is mid-January ’09 for the winter ’09 newsletter.

Invitation to Join our Section


Don’t forget, if you are not a member of the Section and wish to be, APHA now allows multiple section memberships. We welcome any colleagues from other sections to also join the Epidemiology Section! Your membership is just a couple Web site “clicks” away.


It is not too early to consider nominating yourself or someone else to serve as a Section leader and run in next year’s Section leadership elections


If you or your colleagues are interested in finding out about leadership opportunities within the Section, including student leadership opportunities, please come talk to any of our Section leaders at the Annual Meeting or contact any of us as listed above or on our Web site. 


The call for nominations for Section Councilor or Section Governing Councilor positions begins very soon in January. Dr. Stan Weiss, immediate past chair, again will be organizing our Section’s nomination process. (Check our Web site for descriptions of each of these positions.)