Section Newsletter
Fall 2010

Think Like an Epidemiologist Challenge


With the support of an NIH Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the New Jersey Science Olympiad (SO) held its second Think Like an Epidemiologist Challenge on March 16, 2010.


The goal of the Epi Challenge is to get high school students to learn some basic epidemiologic concepts, actually do an epidemiologic study, and get excited about having done so.


Unlike the first Epi Challenge in 2009 which was a “pilot” event for which no points were awarded, the 2010 event was a “trial” event for which points were awarded at both the regional and state competitions. 


High school students, in teams of four, selected a hypothesis, completed portions of the NIH online “Protecting Human Research Participants” training, and participated in the regional SO competition by electronically submitting a proposal for testing their hypothesis epidemiologically to a panel of three judges. (http://www.njscienceolympiad.org/content/events/c/websites/epidemiology/index.html)


If a proposal was accepted for the SO finals, students then tested their hypotheses among high school students from their school district.


On the day of the finals, students presented the results of their studies during a morning poster session to nine epidemiologists who had volunteered to be judges.


Twenty-five teams participated in the regional event and eighteen made it through to the finals.  A few examples of hypotheses that were tested using cross-sectional study designs included:


·         Students who get a good night’s sleep have high academic performances.

·         Students who exercise regularly have higher academic performance.

·         Students’ self-esteem correlates with academic performance.

·         Students’ knowledge of the effects of the H1N1 virus affects their inclination to be vaccinated.

·         Regular exercise increases self-esteem.

·         Playing a sport makes you sleep better.


The winning team, West Windsor-Plainsboro HS South, tested the hypothesis that participation in sports improves sleep patterns of high school students.


The developers of the Epi Challenge, epidemiologists Wendy Huebner and Marian Passannante and health educator Mark Kaelin, thank the Epidemiology Section of APHA for allowing us to distribute their Section pins to the student participants in the 2010 Think Like an Epidemiologist Challenge.


The developers are exploring possibilities for holding the 2011 Epi Challenge in other states.  If you have any questions about the event or might be interested in creating a similar event in your state, please contact Mark Kaelin at (973) 655-7123 or kaelinm@mail.montclair.edu.

Film Screening

TAR CREEK is the story of the worst environmental disaster you’ve never heard of: the Tar Creek Superfund site. Once one of the largest lead and zinc mines on the planet, Tar Creek is now home to more than 40 square miles of environmental devastation in northeastern Oklahoma: acid mine water in the creeks, stratospheric lead poisoning in the children, widespread pulmonary disease, and sinkholes that melt backyards and ball fields. Now, almost 30 years after being designated for federal cleanup by the Superfund program, Tar Creek residents are still fighting for their children's health, the clean-up of the land, and ultimately, the buyout and relocation of their homes to safer ground. As TAR CREEK reveals, America’s environmental disaster sites aren’t just ecological wastelands; they’re public health tragedies, too. Until the public fights back. To learn more, to license the film for a  screening in your community or at your institution, or to preview the film’s trailer, visit http://www.tarcreekfilm.com . Or contact the film's outreach team directly:   tarcreek@filmsprout.org  or (347) 682-2483. 

Social Event

Meet, mingle, and party at the annual Epidemiology Section Social on Tuesday, Nov. 9, from 7 to 9 p.m.  This year’s event will be held at Marlowe’s Historic Saloon and Chophouse at 16 th and Glenarm Place, close to the Convention Center.  A varied selection of hors d’oeuvres and snacks will be available as well as a cash bar and free non-alcoholic drinks.  Drawings will be held for epidemiology books and other goodies.

Attendance is limited to 100, and tickets are required.  They will be available at the Epidemiology Section booth in the Exhibit Hall or from Social Committee members Jim Gaudino, Claudia Kozinetz, Aaron Mendelsohn, Howell Sasser, Cathy Troisi, or Robin Wilson.

Hope you can join in the fun!

Program Planning Report


The 2010 APHA Annual Meeting themeSocial Justice: A Public Health Imperative”, captures the essence of a growing trend of seemingly diverse disciplines working together to address “Social Justice.”  The Epidemiology Section is pleased to sponsor several sessions to recognize the importance of social justice in public health:


Epidemiological Criminology I and II

During the 2008 and 2009 APHA conferences, the Epidemiology Section witnessed extraordinary participation and active engagement from Section members around the exciting and relevant topic of epidemiological criminology.  In the spirit of the meeting theme, the Section will sponsor back-to-back sessions to further explore epidemiological criminology.  These two sessions, developed by experts across academia, the CDC and NIH, philanthropy, the faith community, and community-based organizations, are designed to address both the theory and practice of social justice as a public health imperative.  The diversity of presentations and topics include, but are not limited to, violence reduction through policing, youth gang violence prevention strategies, bridging criminological theory across public health, using the tools of informatics for public health and juvenile justice, drug abuse, and examining the histories of incarceration of African American women and HIV testing. 


Social epidemiology applied to understanding health disparities among injecting drug users (IDUS)

Barriers to access to health care -- especially for those most in need and who also may be least capable of securing help, such as injection drug users -- constitute a particularly insidious social injustice.  A growing body of literature suggests that risks for HIV and other drug-related harms may be socially produced, with examples of the "risk environment" operating at the physical level (e.g., places where drug use occurs), social level (e.g., relationship dynamics) and policy level  (e.g., laws, official policies surrounding sterile syringe access) resulting in barriers/lack of access to necessary assistance.  To this end, the Epidemiology Section proudly presents this important session, developed by the National Institute of Drug Abuse's Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research, that will focus on the social epidemiologic aspects of health care barriers, both internationally and within the United States.



The Program Planning Committee welcomes Epidemiology Section members to the above sessions as well as any of our other 50 scientific sessions.  Regardless of your area(s) of specialization, the Section’s program is certain to have sessions of interest to you!


And don’t forget to attend our special events:

·          3 business meetings to discuss various Section issues.

·          Social hour to meet and greet colleagues.

·          Section awards to honor those who have made significant contributions to the field of epidemiology.

·          Career panel and student awards to introduce students to various professional paths available in epidemiology and to recognize exemplary student performance. 


We look forward to seeing everyone in November!!



Epidemiology Section Membership Survey

During the month of September, you will receive a request from our section leadership to complete a web-based survey.  The purpose of the survey is to find out what our members think about our section activities and the services that we currently offer.  We are also looking for suggestions regarding how to enhance your Epidemiology Section membership.  We hope that you will take a few minutes to fill out this brief survey.  The responses you provide will help us to focus the strategic planning initiative that we will begin during the APHA Annual Meeting in Denver this year. Thank you, in advance, for your valuable input.

APHA Governing Council

As the 2010 Annual Meeting in Denver approaches, the Epidemiology Section’s members of APHA’s Governing Council are getting ready for their busy season.  These are some of the highlights of what we will doing as we represent you:


  • On Saturday, Nov. 6, before the Annual Meeting has even started officially, we will meet for an afternoon session to hear speeches by the candidates for election to APHA’s highest offices (Executive Board, speaker of the Governing Council, treasurer, and president-elect).  This will be our first chance to see the candidates in person, and begin to form the impressions that will guide the Section’s business meeting discussions about which candidates we should support.  Of special interest to the Epidemiology Section this year is the nomination of D.r Jose Cordero, a former chair of our Section, for president-elect.  Dr. Cordero will have our enthusiastic support and we wish him ¡buena suerte!


  • On Sunday morning, we will meet for a presentation and discussion of a current topic of interest in public health.  The goal is to give APHA’s leaders an opportunity to share opinions and build consensus about how APHA can best work to improve the public’s health.


  • On Sunday afternoon, we will attend public hearings on the proposed APHA policy statements that have been submitted for consideration at this year’s Annual Meeting.  These hearings are open to all APHA members and offer everyone a chance to make his or her opinion known about important public health issues.  Among the topics under consideration this year are improving school graduation rates as a health priority, expanding access to contraception among low-income women, environmental justice, health literacy, environmental justice, and funding of local and state health departments.  If you are interested in attending a hearing on a topic of interest to you, speak with a Governing Councilor.


  • On Tuesday, we will meet for an all-day session to do APHA’s business, approving the 2011 budget, hearing reports from APHA leaders and committees, debating the proposed policies, and casting our votes in the APHA leadership elections.  In the past, this meeting has produced enormous amounts of paper, but this year we have gone paperless!  The Governing Councilors will strike a small victory for the environment, bringing laptop computers to the Annual Meeting and saving at least a few trees. 


Your Governing Councilors for 2010 are:  Oscar Alleyne, Christine Arcari, Laurie Elam-Evans, Kris Fennie, Linda Hazlett, Victor Ilegbodu, Resa Jones, Orion McCotter, John Neuberger, Jan Risser, Howell Sasser, Anbesaw Selassie, Cathy Troisi, and John Vena.  Congratulations also to those (Arcari, Ilegbodu, Jones, Neuberger, Troisi) newly elected to terms that will run through 2012.

APHA Section Booth

New Section Pavilion Debuting at 2010 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Denver


Beginning this year, APHA section booths will be housed together in one central location within the exhibition hall as part of the new “Section Pavilion.”  It is expected that the Section Pavilion will help draw attention to the sections and facilitate recruitment of new members.


Within the Section Pavilion, sets of booth structures referred to as “pods” will host four sections or SPIGs.  The groupings and layout of each pod was determined by APHA and based in part on historical collaborations between sections.  


This year, the APHA Epidemiology Section will be located in booth #1581, sharing a pod with the Statistics Section and the Veterinary Public Health SPIG.  A map of the exhibition hall, including the location of the Section Pavilion and the Epidemiology Section booth, can be viewed online via the “Virtual Expo” accessible from the following website: http://www.apha.org/meetings/exposition/.


Be sure to stop the Epidemiology Section booth to pick up our section’s detailed scientific program guide, a ticket to our social event, and also to vote for who you think is the “Mother of Epidemiology”! 

APHA 138th Annual Meeting and Expo

From Nov. 6-10, 2010, join us in Denver for the APHA 138th Annual Meeting and Exposition. More than 1,000 cutting edge scientific sessions will be presented by public health researchers, academicians, policy-makers and practitioners on the most current public health issues facing the nation today. For more information about the Annual Meeting, visit www.apha.org/meetings.

Our section will have a strong presence at the meeting. View the sessions sponsored by our section by visiting the interactive Online Program. Search the program using keyword, author name or date. Don’t forget to stop by our new booth in the Section and SPIG pavilion (booth 1370)  in the Public Health Expo next to Everything APHA

Message from the Chair

As we near the end of my first of two years as chair, I realize that I have many individuals to thank for the time and effort they volunteer to keep the APHA Epidemiology Section at its peak of performance. My order of mention has no association with the value of the contributions each individual has made.  Robin Taylor Wilson, chair-elect, keeps me timely with her reminders of upcoming deadlines or responses to APHA staff in addition to her keen observation of important issues our Section should address.  In addition, Robin was chair of the Career Awards Committee, which resulted in an extraordinary and diverse set of recipients that will be honored at the Section’s Awards Session, APHA Annual Meeting, on Monday, Nov. 8, 2010 at 2:30 p.m.  Jim Gaudino, past-chair, provides the history and reminders of how we did it last time.  Jim was chair of the Nominations Committee this year and put together a very strong slate of candidates that lead to a very exciting election.  Celeste Torio, secretary & newsletter editor, kindly keeps our conference call notes and assembles the Newsletter tasks I truly need lots of assistance with.  Howell Sasser, Governing Council Whip, does a seamless job of organizing the tasks assigned to the Section’s Governing Councilors 14 in all — and they are: Howell Sasser, Elquemedo Oscar Alleyne, Christine Arcari, Laurie Elam-Evans, Kristopher Fennie, Linda Hazlett, Victor Ilegbodu, Resa Jones, John Neuberger, Jan Risser, Anbesaw Selassie, Orion McCotter, Catherine Troisi, and John Vena.   In his spare time, Howell trekked to Denver to conduct a tour of possible venues for Section social events during the 2010 APHA Annual Meeting.  Cathy Troisi followed up on Howell’s report and has made fantastic plans for our Awards dinner and our Social on Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m.  Grab a ticket at Booth #1581 (see details in this Newsletter) and meet us at Marlowe’s located close to the Denver Convention Center.

In addition to Section Governing Councilors, the Section has Section Councilors that serve for a three-year term.  This year’s Councilors, Toni Alterman, Cassandra Arroyo, Tiffany Gary-Webb, Siobhan Maty, Aaron Mendelsohn and Lauren Zapata, worked on various committees and projects.

It is truly magic the manner in which the Section’s program for the APHA Annual Meeting is planned and executed; this year it unfolded into what promises to be a spectacular and stimulating professional program.  The job takes hours of dedication to the Section.  Karyn Heavner, chair of the Program Planning Committee, Aaron Mendelsohn, co-chair, and LaVette Arms are the individuals that make it all happen.  Please take time to thank each of them.

The Section would not be but for its members.  Marian Passannante, chair, Membership & Communications Committee, has kept her committee members busy this year with lots of important projects to better serve our membership.  Toni Alterman, Cassandra Arroyo, Marcia Castano, Laurie Elam-Evans, Jim Gaudino, Robin Taylor Wilson, Celeste Torio, and Lauren Zapata have participated on the monthly committee calls and have led specific activities.  Please stop by the Section’s booth (#1581) and thank:  Lauren Zapata for directing its design and organization and Laurie Elam-Evans for planning the Section’s information folder.

In addition to the Career Awards Committee named above, the Section has a Public Health Practice Awards Committee; Kristopher Fennie is the chair.  Kris’ stewardship has resulted in guiding the committee through its most important infancy years to lay the groundwork and establish the procedures that will be used for years to come.

Co-Chairpersons of the Policy Committee, Sonja Hutchins, John Neuberger and Wiley Jenkins, had a busy year vetting various proposed policies and establishing an Action Plan.  They are looking for new members so please contact them if you have interest in joining the committee.

The Section has had the grand opportunity to work with Marcia Castano.  Marcia is the chair of the Section’s Student Committee.  Marcia’s energy and love of epidemiology and public health is infectious.  The Student Committee is busy; they are a fabulous team of volunteers. 

Please stop by and meet all of the wonderfully dedicated folks I’ve mentioned at one of the Section’s Business Meetings at the 2010 APHA Annual Meeting.  The Business Meetings are open to all Section members: Saturday, Nov. 6, from 7 to 9 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 7, from 6 to 8:30 p.m.; and, Tuesday, Nov. 9, from 7 to 8 a.m.  We will be planning the future of the Epidemiology Section of APHA, and we need your input.


I look forward to meeting you,

Claudia Kozinetz

Chair, APHA Epidemiology Section