Although this is the “Spring ‘09” newsletter, summer is effectively here in most of the United States. New grant applications are due, and new public health graduates are deciding on next steps in a difficult job market. Federal, state and local budgets remain critically tight. New leadership in Washington, D.C. is moving quickly toward critical funding decisions that may change the direction of public health research, surveillance and practice in the years to come, while investment firms, banks and so-called “must-not-fail” sectors in the U.S. economy are being bailed out by the government. Early in May with the arrival of novel H1N1 “swine” flu viral infections in the United States and further spread within more countries, the public health system received another real wake-up call that global public health is also a “must-not-fail” system. Even with the mounting cases and the serious consequences suffered by some from this now pandemic illness, we in the Northern Hemisphere appear to have much needed time to develop better responses to what many expect to be a second more serious novel flu season coming up. What better example of the importance of epidemiologists as what I called the essential “body counters” (Winter ’09 newsletter) — the core of public health, as we all just witnessed this past month?
Epidemiologists again were on the front lines working with clinicians and other colleagues to characterize the disease and its movement among populations. One good colleague of mine recently reminded me of a quotation by the actor, George C. Scott, playing the flamboyant General George Patton in the 1970s World War II movie. While being temporarily sidelined by his command, he says in angst and determination, “With all the world at war, . . . I will be allowed to fulfill my destiny.” So be it for so many of us in epidemiology. We are prepared and ready. We must be allowed to fulfill our destiny to protect the public with the multidisciplinary science we practice! For many of us, fulfilling that destiny may only remain possible with adequate attention, understanding of the needs, and true support by our government leaders and the public. With many growing local and global challenges in public health, our leaders must be reminded not to ignore the capacity needs of the public health systems that citizens rely on, including, but not exclusively, public health’s preparedness and acute response capabilities. In so many other areas, like chronic disease prevention, maternal and child health epidemiology and health promotion, public health continues to lack critical capabilities. Will we ever be able to fulfill our destinies in these areas as well?
So with this spring newsletter — the interim newsletter of the year between Annual Meetings — I invite you to learn more about some of our Epidemiology Section activities and news so far this year and to prepare NOT to miss the next Annual Meeting this November in Philadelphia.
Whether you can make it to the Annual Meeting or not, as chair of one of APHA’s largest (now with over 3,000 members!) and oldest sections, let me again challenge you, as members of the Epidemiology Section, to consider how this Section might be more effective in advancing our profession and defining its relevance. Your comments as letters to the editor or personal comments to our Section leaders (some of whom are listed below) are really important. The complete list of leaders is posted on our Web page: http://www.apha.org/membergroups/sections/aphasections/epidemiology/roster/
Dr. Jim Gaudino
Chair, Epidemiology Section
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Spring Section Updates
Spring Section Updates
The involvement and contributions of Section members, Section leaders, including students, and other professional partners from other sections and epidemiology societies continue to help to advance the mission of our section. Working with these colleagues and watching their work also inspires me, as Section chair.
So, it is not too early to gear up to get more involved with the Section. Fall is approaching quickly and, at the APHA Annual Meeting, newly-elected Section leaders take office and the leadership team begins again. So please contact us if you want to get involved.
Student Leadership Updates
Special thanks this year to our Section student leaders for their involvement. While it is often difficult for these leaders to participate in our monthly leadership conferences calls, these student leaders initiated evening conference calls each month to discuss Section business and student leadership projects. Please look for coming Student Corner articles in our newsletters. Student members interested in getting involved as leaders, please contact Dr. Hannah P. Yang, ScM, ScD email@example.com or any of the other student leaders listed on our Web site.
In late May, APHA elections notices were e-mailed to all Section members, asking Section members to use unique logins to vote for their choices for new section leadership openings for next year (Section chair-elect, Section secretary, Section Councilors and Section Governing Councilor positions were open). Thank you to all of those who stepped up to run for leadership this year! Thank you to those of you who already voted. Don’t miss this chance to choose these new leaders. Please check your e-mail and cast your vote electronically by the June deadline. If you have any questions or can’t find your ballot information, please contact Fran Atkinson or the election staff liaison at APHA.
Annual Meeting Updates
Program News: Thanks to all our abstract reviewers again this year for reviewing the work of peers and students. The Section Program Committee, led by co-Chairs, Drs. Karyn K. Heavner and Aaron Mendelsohn, has nearly completed its work organizing our sections’ Annual Meeting sessions, which cover a wide variety of topics, and APHA program organizers have recently sent e-mails to notify authors regarding the status of their submitted abstracts. The committee has organized a great array of invited sessions on important public health topics, including several specifically focused on the theme of the Annual Meeting, “Water and Public Health.” Don’t forget to look for the call for late-breaker abstracts, soon to be posted on the APHA Web site. Please consider submitting current hot topic abstracts soon. Information about the Epidemiology Section program so far is already posted on APHA’s Web site. Please see: http://apha.confex.com/apha/137am/webprogram/EPI.html
Section Business Meetings: For those of you traveling to Philadelphia, please also plan on attending at least one or more Epidemiology Section meetings on Saturday night, Nov. 7 (7-10 p.m.), Sunday night, Nov. 8 (6-10 p.m.), and bright and early Tuesday morning, Nov. 10, before the first 8:30 a.m. session. Come meet Section leaders, hear about current Section business, and make some new friends and professional contacts! Details about specific times and locations will be available in our fall newsletter, at the Section's Booth in the exhibit area at the conference, and on APHA’s Web site later.
Awards News: The three awards groups (Career, Public Health Practice and Student Awards groups) of the Section Awards Committee, led overall by Dr. Claudia A Kozinetz, are at work again, and we are excited with the award nominees now under consideration. For more information about any of the awards committees, please contact the corresponding chair: Dr. Kozinetz for the Career Awards (including the Abraham Lilienfeld, John Snow, and Wade Hamption Frost Awards), Dr. Kristopher P. Fennie for the Public Health Practice Awards (Early Career, Organizational Awards), and Dr. Karyn K. Heavner for Student Awards.
Again this year, we will be thrilled to honor our 2009 Section award winners in two award sessions: 1) the Career Awards Ceremony, featuring the Wade Hampton Frost Lecture and shorter lectures from our distinguished winners, to be held on Monday, Nov. 9 from 2:30-4 p.m.; and 2) a combined Student Awards Ceremony and Career Session to be held on Tuesday, Nov. 10 from 4:30-6:00 p.m. Don’t forget, right after the Student Awards and Career Session, please plan on continuing the celebrations and networking with your colleagues and the Section leadership at the Section Social Tuesday evening (more details and the location to be forthcoming in the fall newsletter and at the Section Booth at the conference)! If you are a member in or around Philadelphia and would like to help the Section Social planning group, please contact me ASAP!
Policy and Advocacy Highlights
Our Section Governing Councilors and the Policy Committee have been active as well. Our section is involved in the APHA policy proposal and review process — not only as scientific reviewers but as co-authors on several policies proposed this year. Also, Section leadership is very active with the Joint Policy Committee of the Congress of Epidemiology 2011 — a joint epidemiology society policy and advocacy group formed several years ago with representatives from over 14 different epidemiology societies. This year so far, the group has contacted leading policy-makers for the federal Department of Health and Human Services to express our joint support for two important issues. First, we recommended that new comparative prevention effectiveness research funding from DHHS also fund research to evaluate public health initiative effectiveness. Second, we called for the secretary of DHHS to take action on the recent Institute of Medicine committee report that concluded that current HIPAA rules were not working as intended and recommended that HIPAA be substantially reformed to better protect patient confidentiality, reduce impediments to health research, and integrate better with human subject protections already in place under the federal Common Rule.
Membership and Communications Highlights
If you are not a member of the Section and wish to be, don’t forget, APHA now allows multiple section memberships. New this year are pro-rated memberships for any who have lapsed in their memberships! We welcome any colleagues from other sections to also join the Epidemiology Section and ask you to encourage your colleagues who are not members to join up!
As always, we are looking 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 Allyne. The next deadline for newsletter items is in mid-September 2009.
Special thanks to the active work of our new Membership and Communications Committee. Among many activities, committee continues to work on implementing the Section e-Communities Web site, to arrive soon. Section leaders have spent the last few months testing out the site and are planning for APHA to open up our site in the next while. Briefly, e-Communities is an OPT-IN Web-based communication tool for Section members to interact with each other and with Section leaders in three different ways on specific topics: sharing news in “news areas,” discussing issues in topic-specific list-serve/blogs, and posting information and sharing documents on the bulletin board. We hope this will expand ways Section members can share information more freely with colleagues. We’re excited about our student Section leaders’ suggestion to organize areas on the site where student internships and fellowship opportunities can be readily posted as they become available. While we are not there yet, we hope that this and other opportunities will be ready to go soon. After APHA gives the Section the go-ahead, we will let you all know via blast e-mails and in coming newsletters to try it out!
It is shaping up to be another great year for the APHA Epidemiology Section and for your involvement! In these critical times, you cannot afford to miss the chance to lead and to participate in the scientific, public health policy and practice sessions coming up this fall!
Dr. Jim Gaudino
Chair, Epidemiology Section
Contact Information for several other section leaders:
(Please check http://www.apha.org/membergroups/sections/aphasections/epidemiology/roster/ for a complete list of contacts for section leaders):
Dr. Stanley H. Weiss
Immediate Past Chair, Epidemiology Section
firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Mr. Elquemedo Oscar Alleyne
Section Secretary and Newsletter Editor
Dr. Cassandra Arroyo
Section Web Master,
Section Program Committee Co-Chairs:
Dr. Karyn K. Heavner
Section Program Chair and Chair, Student Awards Sub-Committee
Dr. Aaron Mendelsohn
Section Program Co-Chair and Co-Chair, Student Awards Sub-Committee
Dr. Kristopher P. Fennie
Chair, Public Health Practice Award Sub-Committee
Dr. Howell C. Sasser
Governing Counil Whip, Epidemiology Section
Section Policy Committee Co-Chairs:
Dr. Sonja S. Hutchins
Co-Chair, Section Policy Committee
Dr. Anbesaw W. Selassie
Co-Chair, Section Policy Committee
Section Membership and Communications Committee Chair and
Representative to the APHA Committee on Membership:
Dr. Marian R. Passannante, PhD
For more information about the Section, please visit the APHA Epidemiology Section Web pages at:
Section newsletters, from fall 2003 on, are archived & accessible to members at:
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Epidemiologist Wins APHA Peace Award
Dr. Farideh Kioumehr (MPH ’71, DrPH ’73) was presented with the first-ever peace award during the 136th Annual Meeting of APHA in October 2008.
Kioumehr received the new Sidel-Levy Award for Peace in recognition of her work against gun violence. As founder and executive director of the International Health and Epidemiology Research Center, she created the Anti-Violence Campaign for Peace. The project strives to educate and raise awareness about the hazards of guns, toy guns and weapons, violent video games, and violence among children, parents and educators. The focus of the campaign’s initiatives is on children, following Mohandas Gandhi’s assertion, “If we want to have true peace in the world, it must begin with the children.” The goal of her project is to create a healthier and more peaceful world.
The new award, endowed by and named for APHA past presidents Victor Sidel, MD, and Barry Levy, MD, recognizes an APHA member who has made outstanding contributions to preventing war and promoting international peace.
Online article: Accolades . The article can be found at http://www.sph.umich.edu/alumni/networks/spring09/accolades.htm
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Epidemiologists Volunteer and Live at National Parks
The National Park Service (NPS) Office of Public Health is pleased to announce that two volunteer epidemiologists have been hired this summer at Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Parks.
Stuart Castle, MPH, and Leo Cropper, DVM, MPVM, DACVPM, are the first epidemiologists hired through the inaugural NPS Epidemiologists-in-Residence (EIR) program, a concept designed to augment public health capacity at the park level.
In exchange for park housing and a small stipend, EIRs will provide on-site public health expertise in conjunction with park managers and local/state health departments. Potential EIR projects include collecting and analyzing park-based data, training employees and staff, and assisting in disease response and preparedness activities.
Castle will be taking a leave of absence from the New Mexico Department of Health and will be stationed at Grand Canyon from June 15–Sept. 15. His proposed projects include assessing immunization coverage among park employees, developing a park-based emergency medical services surveillance system, and assisting in tick-borne disease prevention activities at the North Rim.
Cropper will be taking a leave of absence from the Air Force and will be stationed at Yellowstone from May 20–Sept.15. Cropper’s proposed projects include leading a zoonotic disease roundtable for wildlife biologists, assessing brucellosis worker safety protocols, and further developing the park’s pandemic influenza preparedness plan.
If the EIR program is successful, the NPS Office of Public Health hopes to offer park-based volunteer opportunities each year at these and/or other participating National Parks. Positions will be announced through the CSTE, EIS Alumni Association, and Emory University Public Health Employment Connection Web sites.
For additional information, please contact CDR David Wong, MD, Medical Epidemiologist with the NPS Office of Public Health, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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New National Native Hawaiian Epidemiology Center
Papa Ola Lokahi, the Native Hawaiian Health Board, established in federal law as the lead agency addressing Native Hawaiian health issues, has recently established the National Native Hawaiian Epidemiology Center. The Center’s role will be to collect, analyze, and report on Native Hawaiian health-related data. The model for the center is similar to that which has evolved over the past few years for American Indian and Alaska Native tribes. Native Hawaiians, like American Indians and Alaska Natives, are Indigenous Peoples of the United States.
The Native Hawaiian population numbers almost 500,000 people in the United States, with about 3,000 Native Hawaiians living in Canada. Over the years, Native Hawaiian health status has been masked by its aggregation with Asian populations under an antiquated ‘API’ (Asian Pacific Islander) identifier. In 1998, OMB dis-aggregated this identifier and formed separate Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander identifiers for racial and ethnic reporting.
Unfortunately, a few federal and state agencies and private foundations continue to produce reports using the old API identifier instead of breaking out the Native Hawaiian population. One of the tasks of the new Native Hawaiian Epidemiology Center will be to advocate for compliance with current federal reporting standards for racial and ethnic data.
The first report of the Center was published as chapter 5 (pp. 107-118) in Indigenous Children’s Health Report, Health Canada, 2009, which can be viewed at http://www.stmichaelshospital.com/crich/indigenous_childrens_health_report.php. The Center is located in Honolulu, Hawaii and its director is Dr. Maile Taualii. She can be reached at (808) 591-6653 or email@example.com.
Hardy Spoehr, Executive Director
Papa Ola Lokahi (Native Hawaiian Health Board)
894 Queen Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
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Should We Be Concerned About Food Safety?
Foodborne illness has been a great public health concern of late. Society has enjoyed the benefits of industrialized food production, distribution, processing, and warehousing that have made it possible to bring food to many community grocery stores through out the nation. However, the down side of industrial production and distribution is that contaminants are easily spread hundreds of miles form the initial point source. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly 76 million cases of foodborne illness occur each year with more than 300,000 people hospitalized, yet critical tracking of foodborne illnesses is not automatic. Ten states collect data for the CDC’s FoodNet surveillance program to examine the incidence of infections, indicating a gap in information from other states. In addition, the CDC points out that the reduction of pathogens did not reach the target expectation of Health People 2010 in 2008.The epidemiologic implication of spreading infection through food indicates a significant vulnerability in food safety. Food safety is given due attention when illness and death from a pathogen dot the landscape and become apparent. In other words, as the body count increases, so does concern about the seriousness of protecting food sources. Certainly, enforcing current regulations is a must, but one has to ask what more can be done? The solution is comprehensive, and prevention is a strategic key to protecting public health and advocating for necessary funding. Perhaps advocacy for public health funding maybe strengthen by arguing the strategic necessity of funding public health issue is to ensure the nations security by reducing illness and increasing productive years.
Gaps in protecting food sources:
- Industry self testing and monitoring
- FoodNet Surveillance (10 states)
Resolving gaps in protection:
- Integrating testing results
- Automatic data collection from all states
- Integration with exiting public health surveillance
Center for Disease Control and Protection (2009). Food Safety Office. Retrieved May 25, 2009 from http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/
Department of Agriculture (2006). Food Safety and Inspection Services. May 25, 2009 from http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oppde/rdad/frpubs/04-026n.pdf
United State Department of Agriculture (2008). Food Safety and Inspection Service retrieved May 27, 2009 from http://www.fsis.usda.gov/regulations_&_policies/federal_inspection_programs/index.asp
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