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Section Newsletter
Winter 2009

A Message from the Chair


In last year’s Winter ’08 issue, as incoming chair, I told a personal story about learning the most succinct definition of epidemiology from a “fierce” professor in my medical school interview: “Epidemiology is the study of diseases (and disease-related conditions) with regards to person, place and time.”  (Article posted at:


In that article, I also gave a current example of how epidemiology remains unrecognized as the core discipline of population medicine — the failure of NIH leadership to include epidemiologists in a recent task force review of NIH’s external peer review processes.  


It is time for another story and an assessment of where the Section has been and where we are going “with regards to person, place and time.”


First, the story. Soon after leaving the safety of UC Berkeley with my master’s in public health, I landed, as a preventive medicine resident, at a local health department during the first wave of the AIDS epidemic in the San Francisco Bay area. No longer was my task what it had been in seminars at UC-B: discussing the quality and validity of epidemiologic studies. My assignment was to begin the first surveillance efforts to assess HIV infection rates, especially among the large at-risk group of intravenous drug users living in our county. There was little information about HIV within the county, minimal funding, no first retroviral drugs available as yet, and much suspicion and resistance by the AIDS advocate community and even the director of the new county AIDS program. The words that the director candidly spoke to me those early days have too often been repeated by a good number of public health colleagues whom I have worked with ever since: “Why do we need the data?  We already know what to do!” Fast forward a few years to my leaving that position to join CDC when that same director came up to me and said, “Thank you, Jim, for helping me to understand that we DO need data.  In this country and in the U.S., we need the body count before policy-makers will act!”  


Then and since, I don’t often think of myself as a “body counter” per se, but the director’s point was clear. Epidemiology is at the heart of public health practice and the policy development cycle. Convincing even our own public health colleagues that data are essential to our practice remains a challenge for those of us who practice epidemiology, especially at the state, local and tribal public health levels. The simple fact is we as a people in this country need both the data and the stories of human suffering to move our communities and policy-makers to some action to end that suffering. 


With this new year and the recent changes of political leadership in Washington, D.C., now rippling across the leadership of federal agencies, there is much hope in the air for public health, especially for those practicing epidemiology. With serious economic and social challenges remaining, and as new policies and funding priorities are being developed, we as epidemiologists need to make sure our findings and study plans are even more relevant to and grounded in the communities we serve. Our “human and data stories” need to be heard by key policy-makers, not just by our data-loving colleagues. Ideally, the conditions we monitor or study should grow out of community needs, not funding availability. This may be another critical year for public health, and there is a critical role for all of us who are involved in “body counting”!  



Looking Back: Person, Place, and Time in the 2008 Epi. Section 

2008 Section-sponsored Awards Sessions


Career Awards Session:






Photos of Section career award winners with section leaders at the Section Leaders’ Annual Awards Dinner in San Diego in October 2008. On the top left, Dr. Julie E. Buring, 2008 John Snow Award winner, and her husband.  In the top middle, Dr. George Rhoads, Abraham Lilienfeld Award winner, and his wife. On the top right, Dr. Ana V. Diez-Roux, Wade Hampton Frost Lecture Award winner.  On the bottom left, in the middle of the frame, Dr. Greg Scott, Director of Research from the Chicago Recovery Alliance, the Public Health Practice Award winning organization.   On the bottom right side, is Dr. Dawn Terashita, the Public Health Practice Award early career winner, enjoying conversation with Section leaders and guests.


John Snow Award: Dr. Julie Buring, ScD, MS, professor at the Boston University School of Public Health and professor of medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, received the John Snow Award for her groundbreaking and lasting contributions addressing women’s health issues, especially in the areas of the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease conditions (both for women and men), cancer and peri-menopausal health, including the use of hormone replacement therapy. Impressively, Dr. Buring has been the author/co-author of 455 publications including 365 original reports, 22 reviews, 38 chapters, 26 editorials or commentaries, and four textbooks. Dr. Alan Maryon Davis from the John Snow Society and Royal Society of Public Health in London, which officially sanctions the Section Award, joined us to bestow the honors. Ever humble and warm, Dr. Buring thanked her many collaborators and students “without whom these accomplishments would not have been possible.” Then, both inspiring and challenging, she reminded us that “Epidemiology is the ultimate team sport!”


Abraham Lilienfeld Award: Dr. George Rhoads, MD, MPH, professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology and associate dean for academic affairs at the School of Public Health, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), received the Abraham Lilienfeld Award for teaching epidemiology.  Besides his well-known excellence in the teaching and practice of epidemiology, Dr. Rhoads was one of the founders of the UMDNJ program, which has trained many epidemiologists. Awarding Dr. Rhoads was especially gratifying to those of us on the Section leadership team because of his many faithful years of service with the Epidemiology Section, including his years of service as the chair of the Section Awards Committee. Many of us are personally grateful to Dr. Rhoads for his quiet but affirming mentorship during our early Section leadership years. As usual, speaking briefly and quietly, he acknowledged his passion for epidemiology and called for the next generation of epidemiologists to continue to advance our skills to meet new challenges in our field.


Wade Hampton Frost Lecture: Presenting an outstanding Wade Hampton Frost Lecture this year was Dr. Ana V. Diez-Roux, MD, PhD, MPH, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Dr. Diez-Roux is well recognized as a leader and ground-breaking researcher in the growing field of social epidemiology. Her lecture highlighted both the framework for studying the consequences of collective society on individual health as well as new studies and methods available for this study. She challenged us to think multi-dimensionally in the conception, study and analyses of epidemiologic studies of disease and health conditions. She convinced us once again that societal conditions as well as individual behaviors and biologic processes can cause suffering and illness. Both identifying conditions and finding interventions that more specifically address the multi-level and multi-factorial conditions that promote or alleviate poor health among communities remain two of the continuing challenges to public health in the 21st century.  With leaders like Dr. Diez-Roux pointing the way, our field will continue to make progress.


Public Health Practice Award: In the fourth year of the Epidemiology Section’s Public Health Practice Awards, which specifically recognize those who use data to make measurable impacts on the public’s health, we are excited to recognize both early career, individual and organizational winners — our first year awarding both! We honored Dr. Dawn Terashita, from the Los Angeles County Health Department’s Hospital Outreach Unit Liaison Project, which she helped to establish, for outstanding leadership in rapidly using data to identify causes and initiate controls for a number of hospital outbreaks and healthcare associated infections in L.A. County. The Chicago Recovery Alliance was also honored for their outstanding track record for over 16 years using evidence from their work to have measurable impacts on the lives of injection drug users, both in terms of recovery and the reduction of harms associated with injectable drugs. 


Next year, we need your help to identify those using evidence to have measurable impacts on the health of communities! Too often, such on-the-ground work remains unknown and unrecognized! Please consider nominating any colleagues within 10 years of their training or any organizations or agencies that through their efforts have a measurable, positive impact on a public health condition or on addressing public health issues. 



Looking Back: Person, Place, and Time in the 2008 Epi. Section,  con’t.

2008 Section-sponsored Awards Sessions


Student Awards and Career Roundtable Session:





Photos of Section student award winners at the Section Student Awards and Career Roundtable Session in San Diego in October 2008.  From the right to the left top photos, accepting awards from Drs. Aaron Mendelsohn and Karyn Heaver are:  Tomas Numo, Melissa Wei, and Heidi Sato and, below, a faculty mentor of Orquidea Frias-Belen.


Section Student Awards and Young Epidemiology Scholarship Awards (YES):

In this first year trying a new format to recognize and honor student award winners, we recognized four students winners with Epidemiology Section Student Awards for outstanding abstracts and presentations at the Annual Meeting: Orquidea Frias-Belen, Tomas Numo, Heidi Sato, and Melissa Wei. Capping off the honors, student winners received cash stipends for their outstanding work. We’re looking forward to another set of high quality student abstracts to review again this year! Looking to the future, we also honored the impressive work of several high school students as Young Epidemiology Scholar (YES) Finalists. Unfortunately they were unable to travel to the meeting. We were very honored that Diane Tsukamaki, the director of the National Recognition & Scholarship Programs at the College Board, was able to join us in the honors and give our best wishes to these exceptionally talented high school students, who received substantial scholarships to continue their scientific pursuits at the university level.  To read about the YES program, please go to the YES Web site.  



Photos of Section student award winners at the Section Student Awards and Career Roundtable Session in San Diego in Oct. 2008.  From the right to the left top photos are Diane Tsukamaki from the College Board and Dr. Diane Marie St. George and other panelists discussing the Teach Epidemiology Initiative.


These workshops are part of a multifaceted initiative to train high school students and their teachers to learn and teach epidemiology and introduce careers in epidemiology. Wrapping up the event were student-senior mentor roundtables for individual discussions of career possibilities in epidemiologic research and public health practice. For me as chair, I had great fun meeting and talking individually with some really impressive budding epidemiologists!  


Please see below how you may contribute to next year’s successful recognition of the valuable work of our senior career, new career, and student colleagues in November and to another rewarding Careers in Epidemiology session.  To students and senior epidemiologists planning to be in Philadelphia, please mark your calendars, and don’t miss this terrific chance to celebrate and network about career opportunities in epidemiology!



2008 Section Governing Council and Policy Activities



Photos of Epidemiology Section Governing Councilors at work in the all-day Tuesday APHA Governing Council meeting in San Diego in October 2008.  Pictured in the middle frame, from left to right, are Drs. Howell Sasser, Resa Jones, Linda Hazlett,  Kris Fennie and on the right, continuing down the row, are Drs. Jan Risser, Laurie Elam-Evans, and Victor Ilegbodu.


Last year was another busy year for the APHA Governing Councilors with policy review activities and APHA leadership elections. The Epidemiology Section is one of the primary sections that APHA relies on to assure that policy statements and resolutions passed by APHA’s Governing Council (GC), APHA’s Congress-like governing body, are scientifically-supported, evidenced-based, and sufficiently pertinent to public health issues to justify putting APHA’s organizational weight behind them. As always, throughout the year, Epi Section Governing Councilors were actively engaged in APHA policy resolution reviews. Also, several leaders again served on the APHA Joint Policy Committee (JPC) and Science Board, two multi-disciplinary Boards with representatives from various parts of APHA to manage APHA’s policy process and make final recommendations to the GC.  This year, as always, several more controversial policies involved our section leaders rolling up their sleeves and investing the time needed to address the issues with science and reason. New policies ultimately passed by the Governing Council as a result of these efforts are now posted on the APHA Web site. These policies represent APHA members’ statements about the nation’s priority public health issues.


2008 Section Social Event

Tuesday night at the Section Social in San Diego, our celebration held at Café Sevilla was another well attended hit event. Special thanks goes to to Ms. Heidi Mortensen (one of our student leaders), Dr. Siobhan Maty, Dr. John Vena and several others who helped with planning. We drew well over 80 members. Student and career Section members and their invited guests were able to continue networking into the evening with tasty food, delicious drinks, and salsa music. Lucky ones who attended also cashed in with their Epidemiology Section raffle winnings from a fine selection of epidemiology textbooks! Those staying later were even invited to salsa dance lessons and dancing! Next year, don’t forget to add Tuesday night at the APHA meeting in Philly to your calendars for another chance for students, mentors and colleagues to met and greet each other!  Tickets will again be at the Section Booth in the exhibit hall. These go quickly, so get them early! If you would like to help plan this fun event, please contact me.


Yours truly,

Dr. Jim Gaudino

Chair, APHA Epidemiology Section


Epi Section Student Corner

Students' Corner — Meet some Section Liaisons


My name is Lisa Oakley. I am finishing an MPH in international public health at Oregon State University. I am really excited to have the opportunity to volunteer as a student liaison to the Epidemiology Section. My research has focused mostly on sexual health, HIV/AIDS, and STIs in Latinos and older adults. My perspective to the Epidemiology Section is unique in that I am not focusing my graduate training on epidemiology. Rather, I recognize the value of the information used by this field in all aspects of public health and the importance for students of any track to build epidemiological skills.


I am really interested in highlighting the success of students in epidemiology and plan to soon begin a "student snapshot" in the newsletter to highlight student achievements. If you or someone you know has made a contribution to the field (on any scale), or if you have any questions about the Section, please feel free to send me an e-mail at


 My name is Heidi Jean Mortensen. I am hoping to complete my MPH (concentration in epidemiology) from the distance program at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in May 2009. I am a medical librarian at Sutter Roseville Medical Center (Roseville, Calif.) and part-time staff research associate at UC Davis Medical Center (Sacramento, Calif.). It has been a wonderful experience to have volunteered as a student liaison in the Epidemiology Section for the past two years. I especially enjoy helping at the APHA Annual Meetings and reviewing abstracts.   


Do you want to get involved?


·      Communicate with your Epidemiology student representatives. Please e-mail me with any questions about the Section or APHA, suggestions for student activities within our Section, and issues you believe need to be addressed within the Section or the Student Assembly.


·      Contribute to the Epidemiology Section's newsletter. Please e-mail us if you would have an article idea for the Student Corner — let us know what you’re working on or issues that are important to you! 


·      Volunteer for Section activities. Students are more than welcome to respond to announcements that are sent through the listserv seeking volunteers; these announcements are NOT just reserved for senior level members. The student liaisons also have projects we’re working on and can always use some help.


We encourage your participation and ask that you check out the Epidemiology Section Web site <>. The Epidemiology Section is great opportunity to enhance your educational and professional experiences! Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or comments.


Lisa & Heidi

Submitted by Student Assembly Section Liaisons Lisa Oakley & Heidi Mortensen

Epi Section Awards Call for Nominations

Call for Nominations

Do You Know An Inspiring Epidemiologist?

The APHA Epidemiology Section is soliciting nominations for its Section awards.  We rely on the members of the Epidemiology Section to help us identify those who are most deserving of each award. The awards honor epidemiologists making significant contributions to the methods, application, teaching and practice of epidemiology as the Wade Hampton Frost Lectureship, the John Snow Award (which is officially sanctioned by the John Snow Society), the Lilienfeld Award and the Public Health Practice Awards.  These awards are categorized as the Career awards and the Public Health Practice awards; procedures for nominations and details of each award are provided below.

Career Awards Nominations

The Epidemiology Section of APHA invites nominations for the Wade Hampton Frost Lectureship, John Snow Award and Lilienfeld Award (see details of these awards below). Awards will be given at the 2009 APHA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. 

A formal letter of nomination, accompanied by a brief resume/curriculum vitae, should describe:

  • How the nominee meets the selection criteria; and
  • Sufficient specific information for the Awards Committee to assess the nominee's contributions or achievements.

Please submit these electronically to the Awards Committee Co-Chair Claudia Kozinetz,, and feel free to contact her for additional details.

Public Health Practice Awards Nominations

The Public Health Practice Awards (see details below) have been designed by the Epidemiology Section to recognize the use of epidemiologic methods in an innovative and creative public health program or project.   There is an award for both an individual and an organization.  An individual investigator must be within 10 years of her/his terminal degree.  An organization may have been in existence for any amount of time.  

Please contact the Awards Committee Co-Chair, Kris Fennie,, to request an application form for the nomination.

The Wade Hampton Frost Lectureship

This award recognizes a person who has made a significant contribution to addressing a public health issue of major importance by applying epidemiologic methods.

Criteria: Intellectual innovation in epidemiology or in the application of epidemiology to public health problems; substantial use of epidemiology to address important public health problems' impact through scientific publications or other means; recognized influence in the recipient's field; leadership in public health as indicated by leadership roles in professional organizations, government agencies, academic institutions or in the private sector; engaging and substantive speaker, able to speak on topics of interest to epidemiologists and other public health scientists.

Annotations: A nominee need not be an epidemiologist, but his/her contributions should reflect the application of epidemiologic concepts and methods or close collaboration in epidemiologic research. Nominees are not required to be members of the Epidemiology Section, APHA or citizens of the United States. Current offices of the APHA Epidemiology Section and members of the Awards Committee are not eligible for this award. Nominees should be excellent speakers.

The John Snow Award

This award recognizes an outstanding epidemiologist for excellence in epidemiologic practice or research.

Criteria: Contributions of enduring value to the improvement of human health or substantial reduction in burden of disease; responsible for innovations in public health practice based on clear epidemiologic foundations or implementation of epidemiologic approaches to solution of health problems; contributions which are practical, explicit, and applied, rather than theoretical or implicit.

Annotations: Nominees are not required to be members of the Epidemiology Section, APHA or citizens of the United States. Current officers of the APHA Epidemiology Section and members of the Awards Committee are not eligible for this award.

The Abraham Lilienfeld Award

This award recognizes excellence in the teaching of epidemiology during the course of a career.

Excellence in teaching as exhibited in effective classroom lectures, professional seminars or workshops, publications of substantial pedagogical or methodological importance for students and professional epidemiologists or students who have made worthwhile contributions to the improvement of public health; Evidence of incorporating both historic and innovative epidemiologic concepts and methods in teaching; evidence of ability to communicate difficult of complex ideas in clear, understandable language or using innovative methods; evidence of influence on students or young professionals as teacher or mentor.

Annotations: Preference is given to nominees who teach in the classroom, are engaging lecturers, write clearly and whose students have made worthwhile contributions to the improvement of public health. Nominees are not required to be members of the Epidemiology Section, APHA or citizens of the United States. Current officers of the APHA Epidemiology Section and members of the Awards Committee are not eligible for this award.

The Public Health Practice Awards

Examples of projects that may merit such an award include the improvement of disease surveillance, creative pre- and post-intervention assessments, innovative ways of improving study participation, and/or communication of epidemiologic measures to the participating community. Projects may also be national in scope, but all projects must demonstrate measurable relevance to improving public health. Awardees will receive a nominal monetary award and an engraved clock.

Nominees must not necessarily have a degree in epidemiology, although the application of epidemiologic methods must be clear. Nominations should include a brief description of the project and the role of the investigator or project group being nominated in addition to Web sites or other supporting documentation of the project or individual’s work being nominated.

Research Brief


Adolescent methamphetamine use is associated with risky sexual behaviors and adolescent pregnancy


The analysis conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 7.6 percent of students from a national sample of in-school youth in grades 9-12 reported lifetime methamphetamine use.  After adjustment for demographic covariates and lifetime use of other substances including cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, and other illicit drugs, lifetime methamphetamine use was associated with increased odds of recent (past three months) sexual intercourse (AOR=1.8, 95% CI=1.5, 2.3), having two or more recent sex partners (AOR=3.0, 95% CI=2.2, 4.2), and lifetime adolescent pregnancy (AOR=2.9, 95% CI=2.1, 3.9).  A dose-response effect of frequency of methamphetamine use was also detected, with the odds of each outcome increasing significantly (p for trend ≤ 0.0001) as the frequency of methamphetamine use increased.


Data analyzed were from the 2003 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a school-based paper-and-pencil survey that assesses risky health behaviors among U.S. high school students.  The survey used a 3-stage cluster design to draw a nationally representative sample of 15,214 youth in grades 9-12.  Parental permission was obtained for all participating youth.


The analysis highlights that adolescent methamphetamine use is a public health problem with 7.6 percent of U.S. high school students reporting lifetime use in 2003, translating to more than 1 million adolescents nationwide; and that use is associated with recent risky sexual behaviors and adolescent pregnancy, independent of other substance use behaviors.  Prevention strategies for high school students should integrate education on substance abuse, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and human immunodeficiency virus.


Source: Zapata L, Hillis S, Marchbanks P, Curtis K, Lowry R.  Methamphetamine use is independently associated with recent sexual behaviors and adolescent pregnancy.  Journal of School Health.  2008 Dec;78(12):641-648.

Looking Forward 09


Looking Forward: Person, Place, and Time in the 2009 Epidemiology Section


The 137th APHA Annual Meeting will be held in November 2008 in Philadelphia. This year’s timely  theme is “"Water and Public Health: the 21st Century Challenge."

2009 Section-hosted Sessions

The Program Committee of the Epi Section is gearing up to host a great array of contributed and invited sessions. As you can see with our call for abstracts, we encourage a broad array of submissions related to epidemiologic work on public health topics, including those specifically related to the conference theme, “Public Health and Water” as well as topics related to epidemiologic and biostatistical methods.  Musing on the theme, one can well imagine the broad scope of epidemiologic work that could be covered with within “water” theme itself!   By the time this newsletter is published, the Feb. 13, 2009 deadline will be right around the corner, and your contributed abstracts will be already submitted or almost ready to go! Don’t miss this chance to share your work and attend the conference! To submit abstracts, view the instructions at and submit your abstracts to the Epidemiology Section at


Proposals for invited sessions will be due in the next few weeks after the Feb. 13 deadline. If you have questions or a great idea for an invited session, please feel free to contact Drs. Karyn K. Heavner and Aaron Mendelsohn (see below). Please check the APHA 2009 Annual Meeting Epidemiology Section “Call for Abstracts” Web page for more information. For those of you with pending work, please keep your eyes out for a call for late-breaking abstracts some time in late summer or early fall!

2009 Section Leadership: Welcome to All!

While a few Section leaders have completed their leadership terms this last year, we are delighted to welcome new and returning leaders after some time away from Section leadership. Also, several continuing leaders are taking on different leadership positions on the 30-plus member Epi Section Leadership team in 2009. We are very excited that four of our student leaders are continuing, several of whom also serve in key positions with the APHA Student Assembly. Let me mention the new, returning and continuing leaders and their new roles on the 2009 leadership team.


 New and returning leaders are:

--Drs. Cassandra Arroyo, MS, PhD, and Tiffany L. Gary, PhD (both joining as Section Councilors with Dr. Arroyo, also serving as our new Section Webmaster).

--Drs. Christine M. Arcari, PhD,and Catherine L. Troisi, PhD (joining as Governing Councilors).

--Dr. Marian R. Passannante, PhD, returns to the team as the chair of the new Section Membership and Communications Committee and as the Section Representative to the APHA Committee on Membership.

--Christopher Tuohy, MPH (joins as a volunteer Section Councilor Assistant).


Leaders newly re-elected or continuing with new roles include:

--Dr. Toni Alterman, PhD (as a Section Councilor — Thank you, Toni, for your years of great work as the representative to the APHA Committee on Membership!).

--Drs. Victor A. Ilegbodu, MPH, PhD, MD; Resa M. Jones, MPH, PhD; John S. Neuberger, DrPH, MPH, MBA; Anbesaw W. Selassie, DrPH; and John E. Vena, PhD (all as Governing Councilors).

-- Drs. Karyn K. Heavner, MSPH, PhD, and Aaron Mendelsohn (Section Program Committee co-chairs, with Dr. Heavner serving as the lead co-chair this year).

--Ms. LaVette Arms, MPH (serving as Section Program Planning Committee assistant to co-chairs).

--Dr. Anbesaw W. Selassie, DrPH (also serving as Section Policy Committee co-chair).

-- Ms. Heidi Mortensen, Ms. Lisa Oakley, Ms. Hannah Yang, and Ms. Patricia (Trish) Saul (serving as student leaders).

--Dr. Stella-Xiaoxing He, MD, MPH (serving as a new volunteer Section Councilor assistant).


Please keep you eye out for the complete list of all the section leaders soon to be posted on our section Web page.


Please consider serving as an Epidemiology Section Leader!   If you are interested in finding out how to get more involved or in joining the Section leadership group, please contact Dr. Stan Weiss, Epi Section leadership nominations chair, or any one of the leadership team during the year. Besides working with a great group of leaders, you can make a difference. Nominations to run for leadership positions (Section Councilor, Section Governing Councilor or other positions as available) are due to APHA VERY SOON in mid-late February. One may nominate oneself.  (For more details, please see the related article in this newsletter, and contact Stan ASAP.)


2009 Section Membership and Communications—New Committee Gets Moving


With Dr. Passannante’s return to leadership as the new Membership and Communications Committee chair, our section leadership’s dream to coordinate more effectively the many membership activities and communication with our members is taking shape with a new committee that includes our newsletter editor, new Webmaster, immediate past representative to the APHA Committee on Affiliates, and other leaders. While we are refining our plans for this year, the Committee is hitting the ground running on a couple of key tasks.


Section e-Communities Web site arriving soon:

Many of you may have heard for the few last years from APHA’s The Nations Health that “e-Communities is coming,” but you may not know what that is and when it really might be coming! Just this past January, in preparation for a full roll out to all Section members, APHA Component Affairs conducted a Webinar e-Communities training with Section chairs, chairs-elect, and Webmasters. The next stage is for Section leadership teams to try it out for a period of time before APHA will open up participation to AHPA members. 


So what is it?  In short it’s 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: share  news in “news areas,” discuss issues in topic-specific list-serve/blogs, and post information and share documents on the bulletin board. Section members who choose to join will be able to sign on and participate in topic-specific discussion and more freely share information with their colleagues. Listserv digests will also be available to quickly view discussions. As yet, APHA is not planning on opening up Section discussions to non-Section members. However, members of APHA Forums will be able to communicate with other forum members if their forum leaders set up forum e-Communities accounts. Please watch for e-mails in the next several months inviting Section members to join and use our Epi Section’s e-Communities resources. 


Invitation to Contribute to our Newsletter

We continue to look for your ideas for and contributions to our quarterly newsletter. If you have an important announcement or would like to briefly highlight some important epidemiologic findings, please contact Mr. Oscar Allyne. Help us keep the newsletter relevant to you! The next deadline for newsletter items is May 30, 2009 for the Spring ’09 newsletter.


Call to improve our Section’s Web site

The Committee, with the leadership of Dr. Cassandra Arroyo, our Webmaster, will be reviewing our Web site pages early this year. We know we can do better, but we need your comments on what’s working and what improvements are needed. Please send your comments about and hopes for our Section Web site to Dr. Arroyo and Dr. Passannante by March 30.


2009 Section Policy and Advocacy Activities — Policy Committee Plans Taking Shape and New Policy Resolutions in the Works


Every year the APHA Governing Council, through its members and affiliate organizations, develops public health policy resolutions and statements on important public health issues including those pertinent to epidemiology and its practice. The list of policies passed by the APHA Governing Council is extensive over many years. These can be viewed via this Web site:


APHA uses these policies when advocating public health positions in discussions with Congress and Administration policy-makers. The Epi Section is engaged in several ways, including:

1) offering expertise to review the evidence supporting proposed policies; and

2) writing and working with partner organizations to propose policies. 


As a Section, we are dedicated to assuring that APHA policies are evidenced-based. In fact, we are the Section most looked to within APHA to provide the expertise to review policies under consideration.


The 2009 policy development process has already begun. Proposed new resolutions and position papers for the 2009 New Policy Process were due in electronic form to APHA headquarters by 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Feb. 17, 2009. Late breakers are also accepted later in the year. Proposals should be sent to (See Preliminary Processing)


Our Epidemiology Section Policy Committee welcomes any of our members and colleagues to volunteer expertise to review proposed policies and to initiate new policy proposals, including proposing appropriate policies already addressed by other organizations. We are also NOW in the process of requesting involvement from members of the Joint Policy Committee of Epidemiology Societies, part of Congress of Epidemiology 2011  collaboration begun in 2006, and their societies’ membership.  


How you can help as a Epidemiology Section member?  

Please contact our Section Policy Committee Co-Chairs (see below) to:

1) Volunteer to review policies related to your expertise. (Let us know what your expertise is!). 

2) Help write policy proposals for the Section. 

3) Volunteer to help plan advocacy activities working with our Policy Committee and our APHA Action Board Representative, Dr. Ruth Allen. 

4) Help us to identify policies already endorsed by your other epidemiology or professional societies that APHA has not yet weighed in on but should, and help shepherd them through the late breaker process this year or the 2010 policy process next year.


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.


Call to serve and grow as a Section leader

With so many exciting opportunities and challenges happening, we as a Section need our members involved in multiple ways. If you or your colleagues are interested in finding out about leadership opportunities within the Section, including student leadership opportunities, please contact any of our section leaders as listed below or on our Web site. Please consider nominating yourself or someone else to serve as a Section leader and to run in next year’s Section leadership elections.


The call for nominations for Section Councilor or Section Governing Councilor positions closes soon in February. Dr. Stan Weiss, immediate past chair, is organizing our Section’s nomination process. If February slips by but you are still interested in joining in, please contact me or Dr. Kozinetz about volunteering to serve with us. We especially welcome students that have the time and interest to serve. Check our Web site for descriptions of each of these positions at:  and


As chair of the Section, I remain hopeful and excited about new opportunities for public health and our Section this coming year. I am truly delighted to continue leading our Section and working with an incredible leadership group of dedicated colleagues and students. I invite you to get involved early with us in making this a fantastic year for our Section. November is coming up quickly, and we are looking forward to seeing you all in Philly!   


Yours truly,

Dr. Jim Gaudino

Chair, APHA Epidemiology Section


Contact Information for several other Section leaders:

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


Dr. Claudia A Kozinetz

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


Dr. Stanley H. Weiss

Immediate Past Chair, Epidemiology Section  and


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:



Announcing a new Public Health and Social Justice Site

I have recently developed a Web site covering public health and social justice, which can be found at  or at .


This Web site contains articles, slide shows, syllabi, links and other documents relevant to topics in public health and social justice. References for most of the information contained in the slide shows can be found in the accompanying articles. Presentations will be updated a few times per year.


The site is aimed at students, educators, and the general public. It grew out of my recognition that medical schools, and even schools of nursing and public health, tend to inadequately address the social, economic, environmental, human rights, and cultural contributors to health and disease. Some of the content focuses on the medical humanities and the history of medicine -- long-standing passions of mine.


Feel free to use information from the articles and slide shows, indeed even the slides themselves, with appropriate citation. It is my hope that this information can be disseminated widely, influencing current and future generations of health professionals and others concerned about creating a more just and peaceful world.


I am hoping to add other syllabi and articles from the many talented individuals working in this area. Please e-mail me any articles and/or slide shows you would be willing to share, along with comments, corrections and suggestions regarding my content.


My goal is to create an online clearinghouse for information and curricular materials on public health and social justice, and eventually to develop an annual, week-long colloquium/training, run by experts in their fields, for health professionals, students and others interested in becoming social justice advocates.


For further information, don't hesitate to contact me

Best wishes


Martin Donohoe, MD, FACP  

AHRQ Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) announces the release of databases, tools, and reports from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project


One in Five Hospital Admissions Are for Patients with Mental Disorders


About 1.4 million hospitalizations in 2006 involved patients who were admitted for a mental illness, while another 7.1 million patients had a mental disorder in addition to the physical condition for which they were admitted, according to a recent report from AHRQ.


The 8.5 million hospitalizations involving patients with mental illness represented about 22 percent of the overall 39.5 million hospitalizations in 2006. AHRQ's analysis found that of the nearly 1.4 million hospitalizations specifically for treatment of a mental disorder in 2006:


*        Nearly 730,000 involved depression or other mood disorders, such as bipolar disease.

*          Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders caused another 381,000.

*          Delirium-which can cause agitation or inability to focus attention-dementia, amnesia and other cognitive problems accounted for 131,000.

*          Anxiety disorders and adjustment disorders-stress-related illnesses that can affect feeling, thoughts, and behaviors-accounted for another 76,000.

*        The remaining roughly 34,000 hospitalizations involved attention-deficit disorder, disruptive behavior, impulse control, personality disorders, or mental disorders usually diagnosed in infancy or later childhood.


These findings are based on data from Hospital Stays Related to Mental Health, 2006 (HCUP Statistical Brief #62) The report uses statistics from the 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.


Lung Cancer Rates Dropping but Hospitalization Rates Remain Constant


Hospital admissions for lung cancer remained relatively stable at roughly 150,000 a year between 1995 and 2006 despite a steady decline in the number of Americans diagnosed with the disease, according a recent report from AHRQ.


Admissions have remained constant, in part, because lung cancer patients are surviving longer and undergoing more hospital-related treatments such as chemotherapy and tumor-removal surgery, according to AHRQ experts. Smoking is considered a main cause of lung cancer-the most deadly type of cancer-but the disease can also result from exposure to hazardous substances such as asbestos, radon, pollution or second-hand smoke, as well as genetic predisposition to the disease.


AHRQ's analysis also found that:


*        The average hospital cost for a lung cancer patient in 2006 was $14,200 (about $1,900 a day). The total cost for all patients was about $2.1 billion.

*        The death rate of hospitalized lung cancer patients was 13 percent-5 times higher than the average overall death rate (2.6 percent) for hospitalized patients.

*        Only 2.4 percent of hospitalized lung cancer patients in 2006 were younger than 44. About 63 percent were 65 or older.

*          Hospitalizations for lung cancer were far more common in the South (89 admissions per 100,000 persons) than in the Northeast (25 admissions per 100,000 persons).


These findings are based on data from Hospital Stays for Lung Cancer, 2006 (HCUP Statistical Brief # 63) The report uses statistics from the 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.


Pressure Ulcers Increasing Among Hospital Patients


Hospitalizations involving patients with pressure ulcers - either developed before or after admission - increased by nearly 80 percent between 1993 and 2006, according to a recent report from AHRQ.


Pressure ulcers, also called bed sores, typically occur among patients who can't move or have lost sensation. Prolonged periods of immobility put pressure on the skin, soft tissue, muscle, or bone, causing ulcers to develop. Older patients, stroke victims, people who are paralyzed, or those with diabetes or dementia are particularly vulnerable. Pressure ulcers may indicate poor quality of care at home, in a nursing home, or hospital. Severe cases can lead to life-threatening infections.


AHRQ's analysis found that of the 503,300 pressure ulcer-related hospitalizations in 2006:


*          Pressure ulcers were the primary diagnosis in about 45,500 hospital admissions-up from 35,800 in 1993.

*          Pressure ulcers were a secondary diagnosis in 457,800 hospital admissions-up from 245,600 in 1993. These patients, admitted primarily for pneumonia, infections, or other medical problems, developed pressure ulcers either before or after admission.

*        Among hospitalizations involving pressure ulcers as a primary diagnosis, about 1 in 25 admissions ended in death. The death rate was higher when pressure ulcers were a secondary diagnosis-about 1 in 8.

*          Pressure ulcer-related hospitalizations are longer and more expensive than many other hospitalizations. While the overall average hospital stay is 5 days and costs about $10,000, the average pressure ulcer-related stay extends to between 13 and 14 days and costs between $16,755 and $20,430, depending on medical circumstances.


These findings are based on data from Hospitalizations Related to Pressure Ulcers Among Adults 18 Years and Older, 2006 The report uses statistics from the 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.


19th Annual APHA Public Health Materials Contest

NINETEENTH Annual APHA Public Health Materials Contest


The APHA Public Health Education Health Promotion Section is soliciting

your best health education, promotion and communication materials for

the 19th annual competition. The contest provides a forum to showcase

public health materials during the APHA Annual Meeting and recognizes

professionals for their hard work.


All winners will be selected by panels of expert judges prior to the

137th APHA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.  A session will be held

at the Annual Meeting to recognize winners, during which one

representative from the top materials selected in each category will

give a presentation about their material.


Entries will be accepted in three categories; printed materials,

electronic materials, and other materials.  Entries for the contest are

due by March 27, 2009.  Please contact Kira McGroarty at  for additional contest entry information.