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Epidemiology
Section Newsletter
Spring 2010

Message from the Chair

Welcome to the New Year!  As an introduction, let me tell you that it is an honor to serve as chair for the Epidemiology Section.  It will be a challenge to match the passion and fortitude put forth by our Immediate Past Chair, James Gaudino; however, with your assistance the Section will continue to promote the ideas, programs and policies that were developed the past two years under Jim’s leadership.

Over the next two years, the Section will be focusing on, 'The Future of the Epidemiology Section APHA.'  With the economic and career challenges we have been facing, we need to secure our future.  This year’s goal is to pull together the resources and materials needed for strategic planning.  We will focus on this goal during our business meetings at the 2010 and 2011 APHA Annual Meetings.  The business meeting venue is our only in-person time with Section membership; we need to use it effectively.  I encourage you to help plan your future with and the future of the Section by contacting me with your suggestions and proposals and to attend the business meetings.  In advance of the Annual Meeting I will distribute the business meetings schedules and agendas by e-mail to our membership and also post them on our Internet site. 

As you page through this issue of our newsletter you will find highlights of the 2009 Annual Meeting.  We sponsored a fascinating awards session as evidenced by Laurie Elam-Evans’ inspiring introduction of Dr. Bill Jenkins, the 2009 Abraham Lilienfeld Award recipient, and Jim Gaudino’s introduction of Dr. Euguene Gangarosa, the Wade Hampton Frost Lectureship Award recipient.  Dr. Richard Kaslow was the John Snow Award recipient.  Kristopher Fennie’s article informs us about the Section’s most recent awards, the Public Health Practice Awards.  As for the Section’s policy activities, Howell Sasser provides an update on Governing Council.  The culminating presentation celebrated the Section’s 80th Anniversary, 1929-2009; included in this issue are Jim Gaudino’s remarks and a photo of our congratulatory award.

The Section is continually seeking out members who wish an active role with the Section; please take note of the article seeking volunteers to place their name on the ballot for Section Councilor or Governing Councilor.  We also have several committees including: Program Planning Committee; Membership & Communications Committee; Policy Committee; Awards Committee; Nominations Committee; 2011 Epi Congress Committee; and Student Committee.  We welcome your active role in any of these committees.

Claudia A. Kozinetz, PhD, MPH
Chair, APHA Epidemiology Section

Call for EPI Section Leader Nominations

Get Involved:
Have you ever wondered why APHA is not involved in issues you consider important to your career or your work? 

Have you ever wanted a say in the scientific and policy-advocacy directions of APHA and the APHA Epidemiology Section? 

If you have answered “YES” to either or both of these questions . . . we need YOU to get involved.  We need YOUR help NOW! 

Dear colleagues, the amazing thing is that you really CAN make a difference!  Yes, you can. And right now is your chance! We members appreciate the benefits of membership: a great journal and a terrific Annual Meeting with scientific-, policy- and advocacy-oriented sessions that cover many public health-related topics and that offer some of us the opportunity to present our own scientific work. And there’s more: the many networking opportunities with colleagues from all parts of public health, including the Section social, and the Epidemiology Section awards sessions that give us a chance to hear about major achievements in public health. Just like APHA itself, our section Annual Meeting programming tries to take the “pulse of public health.”  

But how are these great benefits and opportunities made possible? A few years ago I learned what goes into making APHA the largest non-governmental voice in the United States for public health professionals. I also learned how APHA is governed and how APHA sets its policy and advocacy directions and develops positions on public health scientific and policy issues.

More than this, I learned that the benefits and opportunities I appreciated are possible because of both paid staff, led by APHA’s executive director, and a vast network of volunteer leaders. In fact, APHA is governed by an all-volunteer Governing Council, the congress-like governing body of APHA, that sets APHA policy and strategic direction and elects APHA’s senior leaders, including the Executive Board, APHA’s “board of directors” that oversees APHA staff and fiduciary matters.

Among other responsibilities, Section leaders, all volunteers, have primary responsibility for Annual Meeting programming and representing our membership on the Governing Council.

Just as I did, you too can get involved and make a difference by serving as an officer with the Epidemiology Section!

Besides volunteering time, which we always welcome, Section members may choose to be candidates for office as either Section Councilors or Section Governing Councilors.

Section Councilors serve the Section in multiple ways, overseeing or participating in any number of essential activities. Governing Councilors, who serve on the APHA Governing Council, open, please contact me for information and the required nomination forms. All nominations materials are due to me, Jim Gaudino, NO LATER than Monday March 1, 2010. Please contact, me by e-mail at james.a.gaudino@state.or.us and jag8nw@comcast.net or by phone at (971) 673-0288 (work) or (503) 522-4122 (cell).

If February slips by but you are still interested in participating, please contact Claudia Kozinetz, Section Chair, or me about volunteering to serve with us. We especially welcome students who have the time and interest to serve. Check our Web site for descriptions of each of these positions at: 
http://www.apha.org/membergroups/sections/aphasections/epidemiology/roster/memberleadership.htm  and   http://www.apha.org/membergroups/sections/elections/


 

Public Health Practice Award

The Epidemiology Section had the pleasure of awarding both an individual and an organizational award for the Public Health Practice Awards at the 2009 APHA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.  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.

Public Health Practice Award for an Individual – Elise Riley, PhD, MPH, was awarded the Public Health Practice Award.  Dr. Riley uses epidemiologic principles in her practice of public health. She is committed to determining and ameliorating health risks that are specific to poor and marginally housed persons. The development and evaluation of a community syringe drop box program (Operation Drop Box) in Baltimore exemplifies her approach to public health practice.  It was an inexpensive, simple, yet elegant intervention, acceptable to drug users, the community and police.  It was effective in reducing risk of HIV infection through shared syringes.

Public Health Practice Award for an Organization – The Assessment, Policy Development and Evaluation unit of Public Health – Seattle & King county (PHSKC) was awarded the Public Health Practice Award at the 2009 APHA Annual Meeting. Through the practice of community health assessments, PHSKC has been able to identify important health issues and effect a change through community involvement and appropriate interventions. A highlight of their work is the analysis and identification of trends in asthma hospitalization in King County. This led to the development of a community-based participatory research project aimed at reducing asthma health disparities.  Dissemination of these studies led to the formation of an asthma coalition which has targeted low income children, and has helped to develop housing-related interventions.

The Public Health Practice Awards Committee did an outstanding job this year in selecting winners from a pool of impressive candidates.  Please thank them for their efforts:  Oscar Alleyne, Kristopher Fennie, Jim Gaudino, Claudia Kozinetz, Perianne Lurie, Polly Marchbanks, and Lauren Zapata.

We are seeking nominations for the 2010 Public Health Practice Awards. If you know of someone or an organization that exemplifies the use of epidemiologic methods in an innovative public health context, please consider nominating them. For further information on how to nominate an individual or organization contact Kristopher Fennie, Chair, PHP Awards Committee, at
kristopher.fennie@yale.edu .

2009 Abraham Lilienfeld Award Recipient

Introduction of Dr. Bill Jenkins as the APHA Epidemiology Section’s
2009 Abraham Lilienfeld Award recipient by Dr. Laurie Elam-Evans

Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of disease or other health conditions in human populations. This definition or one of numerous variations is near and dear to many of us in this room. It is a definition I learned on the first day of epidemiology class during my junior year in college, from my first epidemiology professor Dr. Bill Jenkins. It was a day that changed my life forever. For you see, some professors teach lessons for a lecture or course. However, when Dr. Jenkins teaches epidemiology, you learn lessons for a lifetime. That January afternoon in 1984, I learned that in epidemiology, it is not important to always know all the right answers. (And I thought I was pretty smart). What IS important is asking the right questions. A lesson for a lifetime.

The Abraham Lilienfeld Award recognizes excellence in the teaching of epidemiology during the course of a career. Preference is given to nominees who teach in the classroom, are engaging lecturers, write clearly in the English language, and whose students have made worthwhile contributions to the improvement of public health. 

The recipient of the Epidemiology Section’s 2009 Abraham Lilienfeld Award is Dr. Bill Jenkins. Dr. Jenkins received his Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics from Morehouse College, his Master of Science degree in biostatistics from Georgetown University, his Master of Public Health degree in epidemiology and his doctoral degree in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He completed post-doctoral work in biostatistics at Harvard University. He worked as a statistician and epidemiologist for over 20 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the area of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.

But more important than the education he has received is the education and training in epidemiology and biostatistics that he has provided to numerous students, especially for African American and other minority students.

In 1983, Bill Jenkins started PROJECT: IMHOTEP, an 11-week summer program in biostatistics and epidemiology at CDC that provides classroom training in epidemiology and an applied epidemiology experience where students learn SAS, conduct an epidemiologic analysis with an existing data set, write a publishable epidemiologic manuscript, and give an oral presentation to a CDC audience. All of this is completed within 11 weeks. I still shudder when I think about the intense 11 weeks I spent as an IMHOTEP intern. By the way, my participation in PROJECT: IMHOTEP started at 8:00 in the morning on the DAY AFTER I graduated from college.  In Dr. Jenkins' words, graduation was not the time for a break…it was the beginning of important epidemiologic work to be done…and that we did. To date, 428 African American and other minority students have participated in IMHOTEP. Many of them return after the program to serve as preceptors for students, critique student papers, provide feedback on presentations or give encouragement to the students that though it is challenging, they will survive the summer. With the IMHOTEP program, Dr. Jenkins taught epidemiology, but he also taught the importance of giving back and helping to train the next generation of public health professionals. Each one, teach one. Another lesson of a lifetime. 

In 1988, Bill Jenkins led efforts for the development of a cooperative agreement between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Morehouse College to establish the Public Health Sciences Institute.  he purpose of this agreement was to increase the quality and quantity of well-trained minority public health scientists. The Public Health Sciences Institute includes public health courses, including epidemiology, year-long public health internships, and activities such as the Atlanta University Center Public Health Association, and the IMHOTEP summer program. Dr. Jenkins taught the epidemiology course for undergraduate students in the Atlanta University Center, including Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Clark Atlanta University. This agreement and the monumental effort it took for implementation taught another life lesson… to find a way or MAKE a way.

Finally, in 1995, Dr. Bill Jenkins started the Master of Public Health program at Morehouse School of Medicine. This program emphasizes addressing the problems and finding solutions to the public health needs of underserved and minority communities, of people of color.  Dr. Jenkins teaches epidemiology to graduate students and preventive medicine residents. But he also teaches the life lesson of the importance of including the community and cultural sensitivity when conducting epidemiologic studies and searching for solutions to eliminate health disparities. Having the relevant stakeholders at the table to provide input is VITAL to moving forward in efforts to address health disparities. To date, 154 graduates have matriculated through the MPH program.

Asking the right questions
Giving back
Finding a way or MAKING a way
Including the community

Lessons of a lifetime from an Epidemiology professor for ALL TIMES. 

It is with great pleasure that I present the Epidemiology Section’s 2009 Abraham Lilienfeld Award to Dr. Bill Jenkins.

 

 

Wade Hampton Frost Award Recipient

Honoring the Career of Dr. Eugene John Gangarosa, MD, MS, FACP Introducing the APHA Epidemiology Section’s Wade Hampton Frost Lectureship Award Recipient, Career Awards Session, Nov. 9, 2009

by Dr. Jim Gaudino, MD, MS, MPH, FACPM, Immediate Past Chair, APHA Epidemiology Section

On behalf of the Awards Committee this year, it is my pleasure to introduce Dr. Eugene John Gangarosa, MD, MS, FACP, as this year’s Wade Hampton Frost Lectureship Award winner.

The Wade Hampton Frost Lectureship Award recognizes an outstanding epidemiologist for excellence in epidemiologic practice or research.
To be a winner, one need not be an epidemiologist. Rather, one must have:
-- made intellectual innovations in epidemiology OR in the application of epidemiology to public health problems;
-- substantially used epidemiology to address the impact of important public health problems through scientific publications or other means;
-- recognized influence in his or her own field;
-- demonstrated leadership in public health as indicated by leadership roles in professional organizations, government agencies, academic institutions or in the private sector; and
-- be an engaging and substantive speaker WITH the ability to speak on topics of interest to epidemiologists and other public health scientists.

Dr. Gangarosa is well known for being incredibly modest about all of his scientific and practice-based contributions as well as his generous support for the training of new practice-based epidemiologists. However, don’t let that throw you off. This “true scientist and gentleman,” as one close colleague called him, has made some impressive contributions, as did his predecessor Dr. Wade Hampton Frost.

These contributions include:
-- the use of science to support population-based epidemiology; 
-- the application of epidemiology to identify and address real public health issues, both in the United States and abroad; and
-- the development and implementation of practical disease control and prevention strategies to address the problems identified.

We especially recognize Dr. Gangarosa for his continuous and lasting contributions to understanding better the persistent risk factors that contribute to waterborne and food-borne illnesses worldwide, especially cholera and diarrheal diseases, and  to knowing how to respond to these factors on the individual, community and system levels.

Born in Rochester, N.Y., he stayed in “home” territory for the first part of his life and training back in the 1950s. He attended the University of Rochester, receiving his BA in 1950, his MD in 1954, and an M.S. in microbiology in 1955.

Now ready to complete his training and begin his career, he left home base. He first went for his medical training as a rotating intern at the Tripler General Hospital, in Oahu, Hawaii, 1955-56. That must have been was quite a change in weather for him!  Soon he completed his medical residency at the Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, D.C., from 1957 to 1959. He remains a licensed physician in three states and is a board-certified internist, recognized as a Fellow of the American College of Physicians.

His epidemiological training includes work at some prestigious institutions, first, at the Walter Reed Army Research Institute (1957-59) and then at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS; 1964 to 1966). Remember, at that time the now internationally, acclaimed CDC EIS program, started by Dr. Alex Langmuir, had only been around about 13 years.

Prior to joining CDC, Dr. Gangarosa had already been involved with international work, including an assignment in Lahore, West Pakistan as the director of the Pakistan Medical Research Center, affiliated with the University of Maryland International Center for Medical Research and Training program (1962 to 1964).

Although his latest CV now downplays his more that 20-25 years at CDC, when he arrived at CDC, he “hit the ground running” to begin his impressive career there. CDC offered the core training he needed in his career. Clearly, he was a young, talented investigator with a driving interest in infectious diseases and their continuing health impacts, both nationally and internationally. Just as Dr. Wade Hampton Frost was once described, Gene became one of the “young Turks” at CDC – passionate about and committed to his work at CDC and to the difference he could make.

While he was moving up the ranks at CDC, soon becoming the chief of CDC’s Enteric Disease branch, he was constantly involved with field epidemiologic work as a primary and co-investigator as well as a hands-on supervisor of those conducting these investigations. He coordinated laboratory and other support within CDC as well as managed CDC’s collaboration with its partner agencies (at the local, state or international level).  At “headquarters” he also was in charge of “pulling together the bigger picture” of the epidemiology of these diseases, including the impacts and lessons learned from disease control activities and the gaps in the science and technology that needed to be better studied and addressed.

Getting back to the international “field,” from 1978-1981, while on assignment from CDC, he became the dean of the American University in Beirut, Lebanon, where he met and trained international students. I will get back to describing some lasting impacts his work there made to public health here in a minute.

Reflecting on his work as one reads his CV, one can easily can see “the threads” of (1) the various positions he has held, (2) the work he and his colleagues produced, evidenced by the many publications (~160 peer-reviewed journal articles and textbook chapters) listed on his CV, and (3) the diversity of topics he addressed in dealing with infectious diseases.  These investigations took him, his colleagues, and various EIS officers to many places in the United States and throughout the world!  Let me name a few: Guam, Pakistan, Mexico, Trinidad, countries in Central America, Lebanon, the then country of Yugoslavia, and so forth. These three “threads” in Gene’s career remind me of the diversity and practice-based work of Wade Hampton Frost.
 
Notably, his accomplishments also include his role in the development of international oral rehydration solutions to address cholera and other diarrheal diseases and his scientific and financial involvement in the development of point-of-use household water treatment. Both of these major public health interventions are now practiced by millions of people worldwide and have saved of hundreds, if not thousands, of lives each year.

His other academic and professional record is simply too long to read off, but shows his incredible involvement as a professor and expert advisor within academic institutions and national and international advisory groups and organizations.

He has been also honored with awards such as CDC’s Medal of Excellence, CDC's highest award for distinguished scientific contributions (June 1978) and the Thomas Jefferson Award, Emory University's highest award, recognizing the faculty person who has contributed the most to institutional development (May 1991).

Like Dr. Frost, who “reinvented himself several times, Gene’s career began anew when he joined Emory University in 1983 serving for 18 years. At Emory, he has also made lasting contributions, beginning first as a professor and director of the Master of Public Health Program at the School of Medicine, serving from 1983-89. Then, he became the interim director for the Division of Public Health at Emory University (1989-90). In 1992-1993, he served as the Director of Emory’s Office of International Affairs in Emory University’s Office of the Provost. From 1990 to the present at Emory University‘s new School of Public Health, Gene remains involved as Professor Emeritus in the Department of International Health. Reminiscent of Dr. Frost ‘s experience at Johns Hopkins University, Gene was involved in founding Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health!

If that were not enough, through the endowments that Gene and Rosa, Gene’s lovely wife of many years from Rochester, N.Y. days, both quietly have set up, they continue to generously support students with international internships and incredibly two endowed faculty chairships at Emory.

“Reinventing” himself one more time, in 1994, Dr. Gangarosa struck out on his most recent career journey —
the private practice of public health. Since then, with his new venture, named “EJG Associates,” he has offered consultative services for food, water, and airborne diseases and disease prevention. Untiringly, he and Rosa founded the Gangarosa International Health Foundation where since 1993 he has served as the Chief Executive Officer.

Finally, let me take the last minutes to tell some personal stories offered by Gene’s colleagues that tell you a lot about the man and his passion for improving public health worldwide. 

Dr. Godfrey Oakley, our Section's 1998 John Snow Award winner and one of Gene’s colleagues at CDC, shared this story:  “….While he was at American University in Beruit, I got a call from Phil [a mutual colleague] that he wanted us to look at a young geneticist — Dr. Muin Khoury — as a possible candidate for EIS in our birth defects group. So we thought about it, and when it came time to rank our choices for officers, [we] ranked this person we did not know fairly low. [However], when the match was completed, Muin had been assigned to our unit!  It became clear later on that Phil and Gene had cut a deal many months before that Muin [now the founder and Director of CDC′s National Office of Public Health Genomics]… would be coming to work with the birth defects group. Of course Muin was the world class geneticist, pediatrician, epidemiologist that Gene knew he was….having Muin shoved down our throats was the nicest thing I ever got told to do from above.

“Gene is a man of many talents.  He is a great example of the remarkable, talented people who come to CDC to work, who have world class ability even if they did not become directors of CDC. You will have reviewed Gene's career both at CDC and afterwards and see what a world class contribution he has made to public health. He is certainly deserving of the award.”  [Typical of his humility]…in November, when I met him and learned he was working on his “talk for APHA,” he did not tell us he was getting the Frost Award!”

Besides recruiting Dr. Khoury, in Lebanon, Gene also identified up and coming talented people in-training, then mentored and recruited them as the new, talented CDC leaders they remain -- Drs. Rimi Khabbaz and Hani Atrash.

From Dr. Roger Rochat, formerly of CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health and Director of Emory’s Graduate Program of the Department of International Health shared the following:

“Dr. Gangarosa has been one of my personal professional role models at several pivotal times in my life. First, in 1968 he sent me to Pakistan with Barth Reller to study oral therapy for cholera in the rural Matlab hospital.  Second, in 1985, he asked me to develop the International Health Track of Emory's MPH program. Third, he has been a role model in philanthropic support for public health education.  Gene and his wife Rosa are also a role model in family life.  Gene's absolute commitment to one of the world's greatest public health issues -- safe water -- is inspirational. I hope others find as good role models in their lives.”

Here’s my own story.  During my CDC EIS training in 1991, we discussed the classic Crater Lake, Oregon, waterborne illness outbreak in the late 1970s, still used as an EIS case study. One point of the case study was that sometimes public health has to respond before all the data are in. I still clearly remember Gene getting up, unprompted, in an open EIS forum to drive the point home. He was clearly still feeling the “sting” for decisions made by the team. Rather humbly and calmly, he told us that he was the Atlanta CDC back-up person for that investigating team. Impressively, he was still taking responsibility for CDC’s delay in "going public."  Besides giving us a real life lesson in practical public health response, Gene modeled and taught us all about his integrity that day! That certainly IS the kind of person he is!

Please join me in welcoming, honoring, and listening to Dr. Eugene John Gangarosa, the 2009 APHA Epidemiology Section Wade Hampton Frost Lectureship Award winner. In a few minutes, he will be honored by sharing his career experiences and perspectives in his lecture entitled “The Evolution of My Passion and Decision to Invest in Global Safe Water: Wade Hampton Frost’s Input.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Epidemiology Section's Governing Council Representatives

While the scientific sessions and continuing education events at APHA’s Annual Meeting in Philadelphia were under way, representatives of the Epidemiology Section were at work in the Governing Council. This body approves APHA’s budget, elects its senior officers, and debates the policy priorities that will guide the Association’s staff and leaders in the coming years. Representatives of sections, SPIGs, and caucuses in the Governing Council are in proportion to their membership – currently, the Epi Section has 14 Governing Councilors. This report will give you an idea of some of the things we did on behalf of the Section and APHA.

As the largest and most visible public health organization in the United States, APHA is often consulted by politicians, the media and others on matters of public health interest. APHA staff also work to inform legislators and influence the legislative process. Each year, the Governing Council receives and debates proposed APHA policy statements submitted by members. These activities require planning in advance to insure sound policy is available when needed. The policies approved by the Governing Council become part of the Association’s public message. This year, policies on subjects as diverse as health care reform, youth violence prevention, the Millennium Development Goals, and the non-medical use of broad-spectrum antibiotics were on the agenda. In all, 16 new policies were approved. Members of the Epi Section invested considerable time in reviewing and improving policy statements on nutrition and cancer and on the health implications of changes in building codes.  We see it as our role to help to insure that the advocacy in APHA policy is backed up by sound science.

In addition to developing policy, the Governing Council elects the president of APHA, members of the Executive Board and other senior officers as needed. This year, we elected three new members for the Executive Board – M. Beth Benedict, Drew Harris and Adewale Troutman – and chose Linda-Rae Murray to be APHA’s president for a one-year term beginning in November 2010. We also approved the honorary appointments of vice presidents to represent the United States (Ed Marshall), Canada (Cory Neudorf), and Latin America (Paulo Buss). Of local interest, the Epi Section’s Resa Jones was among those chosen to join the committee that puts together the election slate each year. Congratulations to Resa and to all those elected to help in leading APHA.

In other business, the Governing Council heard or received reports from the Executive Director, APHA leaders, and Association boards and committees. We approved APHA’s 2010-2011 budget, and also received an action plan to put into operation many of the recommendations of the Task Force on Association Improvement and Reorganization (TFAIR). These are designed to make APHA management and governance processes and structures more efficient and transparent. Association staff reported on membership trends, which have shown predictable declines in the past year.  The Epidemiology Section has seen a proportional drop in its membership numbers, though our losses have been less dramatic than those of some other APHA units. The Sunday morning Governing Council roundtable session dealt with strategies for expanding membership – a timely topic. We approved the creation of a taskforce to review APHA’s policy development process. The Epi Section’s Chair-Elect, Robin Taylor Wilson, will be part of that group.

The Governing Councilors’ annual work cycle will soon begin again, with the beginning of the 2010 policy and nominations processes. The Council will meet by conference call in June to discuss pressing issues and plan for the 2010 Annual Meeting in Denver. It is our honor to represent the members of APHA and to work for the Association’s continued prominence in the national conversation about health.

Howell Sasser, PhD
Governing Council Whip
APHA Epidemiology Section

 

Epi Section Program Planning Report

The Programming Committee is eagerly planning for this year's Annual Meeting: Social Justice: A Public Health Imperative in Denver from Nov. 6 through 10, 2010.

The deadline for the general call for abstracts has passed; however, there are a number of other opportunities to support the Epidemiology Section's program this year:

1) Late-breaker sessions:  A Call for Late-Breaker abstracts will be released this spring.  Late-breakers must be related to the Annual Meeting theme ("Social Justice") and/or reflect recent data/work that occurred after the general abstracts were due (February 2010).  More details will follow as they became available.

2) Invited or Special Session:  The Programming Committee welcomes proposals for Invited or Special Sessions (i.e., sessions with invited speakers) related to the Annual Meeting theme, "Social Justice". Additionally, sessions on emerging issues in epidemiologic methods, research and analysis or on the future of epidemiology would also be appropriate submissions.  nvited or Special session proposals should have been submitted to the Epidemiology Section Program Planner no later than Feb. 28, 2010. Invited or Special session abstracts must be submitted starting March 16 through the deadline on April 24, 2010. A complete abstract for EACH proposed presentation must be submitted at the Web site, with an indication of the Invited or Special session to which it belongs. An abstract submitted as part of an Invited or Special session should NOT be submitted as an individual contributed abstract.

3) Abstract reviewers:  Reviewers are needed for evaluating abstracts submitted to the Epidemiology Section. Each reviewer will be assigned ~12-15 abstracts.  If interested, please contact Dr. Karyn Heavner at karynkh@aol.com.   

For further information:

Karyn K. Heavner, PhD, MSPH
karynkh@aol.com
Program Planning Chairperson

Aaron B. Mendelsohn, PhD, MPH
apha_epi@yahoo.com
Program Planning Co-Chairperson

Candidates for APHA Leadership Positions Needed

APHA NOMINATING COMMITTEE SEEKS POTENTIAL CANDIDATES FOR APHA LEADERSHIP POSITIONS IN 2010

The Nominating Committee for APHA's Governing Council is looking for the following candidates for leadership roles in the organization:

 

  • APHA President Elect (three year commitment, one year each as president-elect, president and past-president)
  • Executive board – three positions available (4-year term)
  • Speaker of the Governing Council (3-year term)
  • Treasurer (3-year term)

The APHA Governing Council will vote to select these officers at the November (2010) meeting, and they would begin serving immediately after the APHA conference (so terms would start Nov. 10, 2010).

 

As I'm sure you know, the next APHA Annual Meeting is Nov. 6-10, 2010, in Denver.

 

Applications are due March 31, 2010 and should include the relevant (attached) one-page form along with resume/CV of the nominee, and any letters of support. The nominating committee will meet May 6 to select the list of nominees for consideration by the Governing Council at the 2010 Annual Meeting.

 

We hope you will be able to think of individuals who would be excellent candidates for the above positions. 

 

Should you or a potential candidate wish further information on these positions, please refer to the job descriptions and nomination form available on the APHA Web site at: http://www.apha.org/about/gov/nominations/default.htm

 

If you are interested in running, we suggest you contact your APHA Section, SPIG, Caucus and/or Forum leadership to solicit their support and assistance with your nomination. 

 

All nominees for the Executive Board are selected from among the membership of the Association, except that the nominees for  Honorary Vice-President may include persons who are not members of the Association.

  

For more information on the Nominating Committee, contact Ida Plummer via e-mail at governance@apha.org.

Reflections on the EPI Section's 80th Anniversary

Reflections on the APHA Epidemiology Section’s 80th Anniversary, 1929-2009,
from Dr. Gaudino’s Career Awards Session Introduction, Nov. 9, 2009

Every year, the Career Awards Session of the APHA Epidemiology Section affords Section members and guests a great time hearing about and celebrating the work of outstanding senior and up-and-coming epidemiologists. Those sessions also invite us to reflect on who we are, where we have been, and where we are going. This November’s session in Philadelphia was particularly special because we as a Section celebrated our 80th anniversary!  It was a privilege for me to look a little further into our section’s history, prepare a few slides, and take a few minutes to tell some of our story.  Here is some of that story. (click to see story with pictures)

So what was happening in 1929 when the Epi Section was about to be formed?  

After a devastating world war, the country had been through an economic boom but was rapidly sinking. Just about 80 years ago today, on Oct. 29, 1929, with the Wall Street Crash, the country sank into the Great Depression.  At the same time, the country was recovering from a devastating pandemic, the 1918 flu epidemic. Now, 80 years later, we are facing our own major economic “downturn” and pandemic.

In 1929, modern public health in the United States was emerging from the sanitation movement of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Local and state governments were organizing health authorities. The U.S. Public Health Service was also active. Some of the “best and brightest,” such as Dr. Wade Hampton Frost, then with the USPHS, were assisting state and local governments with responses to outbreaks and public health concerns. Water quality and infectious diseases topped the list of sanitation concerns, as population movement to cities from rural areas and waves of mainly European migration to the United States compounded the challenges. Based on scientific work and societal concerns, progressive movements emphasized poverty’s link with poor health, especially in cities. 

Still looking back to Europe, U.S. epidemiologists had nothing like the London Epidemiological Society as their professional society. Sessions at the American Public Health Association did include presentation of epidemiologic studies. In fact, 100 years ago this fall in 1909, Dr. Frost presented a paper at APHA demonstrating that a recent waterborne outbreak in Washington, D.C., in a time of prevalent typhoid fever, was due to a typhoid-like infectious agent, but not Salmonella typhi! 

Epidemiologists were seen as “academics” by leaders of health departments.  New York City’s health commissioner accused epidemiologists of being “too esoteric.” Gee, for those of us in “practical public health” positions, this sure sounds familiar. I was just talking to a colleague today who reported a similar, recent comment by a leader in that person’s health agency. Certainly, I have heard that during my career working in public health agencies.   

In the 1920s, health departments nonetheless began to organize communicable disease units and hire epidemiologists. Within APHA during this decade, a number of health officers left the Administration Section in which they were members. While we don’t have a clear history of why this happened, health officers who were often now serving as lead epidemiologists in disease control matters may simply have wanted a section that better addressed the issues they were facing. Meanwhile, earlier attempts to present epidemiologic work in special sessions at APHA fizzled. However, in 1928, to highlight the practice-based work going on at health departments, our section founders organized two successful, well-attended sessions at the APHA Annual Meeting in Chicago. With the spark of this success, our founders moved forward. In 1929, the APHA Executive Board approved a proposal to charter the Epidemiology Section. The “instigators” were then “tapped” to take on the role of organizing and leading the Section. Thus, the Epidemiology Section was born! 

Let’s recognize and thank those first Section leaders now.  Serving as the founding Section Chair was Dr. Don Griswold, Iowa’s State Communicable Disease Epidemiologist. The role of Vice Chair, the position which is now known as the “Chair-Elect,” fell to Dr. E.S. Godfrey, Jr. The Section’s first secretary was Dr. Haven Emerson, who was at the Veteran’s Administration at that time. 

By the next year, there were 32 members. That is a pretty humble beginning for the first and still largest epidemiologic society in North America. 

Looking back at our history, we can see a clear theme: the Section’s call to use epidemiology to address practical, rather than “esoteric,” public health issues. The Section has made many contributions to those ends. With the dedication of its leaders and members, the Section has hosted hundreds of scientific and practical public health sessions amounting to hundreds, if not thousands, of individual presentations and discussions during these last 80 years. Amazing!  Also, after members created the first practical guide on communicable diseases, over the course of many years, the Section routinely prepared and revised the early issues of the now authoritative Control of Communicable Diseases Manual. This book is “THE bible” that public health practitioners in local, state, tribal and federal settings in the United States use to guide their decisions on communicable disease control and prevention.  These and others are wonderful contributions by terrific colleagues and professionals, and we celebrate them!

Before we continue with award introductions, let me take a few extra moments to reflect on both the progress made these last 80 years and the continuing and new challenges facing public health and epidemiology with a few examples from my experiences as a maternal and child health epidemiologist. I’ll just highlight them as you review the slides.

We’ve made some amazing strides, both with population growth in the United States and life expectancy, but we still struggle with significant disparities in life expectancy. With the looming problem of obesity, for example, life expectancy increases have leveled off and may begin to decline again. Dramatic reductions in infant mortality occurred this last century, but yet in the United States, racial, ethnic and other group disparities persist, keeping us ranked below 29 other countries in the world in infant survival.

With dramatic reductions in communicable diseases, particularly vaccine-preventable diseases, we face new challenges as a growing number of parents and others who have not experienced the risks of these diseases are now concerned about the safety of vaccinations and questioning whether their children or they themselves should be vaccinated.

During the next 80 years, epidemiologists will continue to face these and many other public health issues for which the applied use of epidemiology within multidisciplinary partnerships can offer scientific evidence to assure that policy and program decisions are made with evidence and not conjecture.

In the past and looking forward, the Epidemiology Section has been and remains ready to play an important role to support our members and “serve as a conduit between the epidemiologic research community and users of scientific information for the development, implementation, and evaluation of policies affecting the public's health,” as our mission states.

We are currently 3,000 members strong with a dedicated and, to me, impressive leadership of 35 plus currently elected and volunteer Section leaders, among them students, with whom I have been grateful to work. The Section is engaged in many activities. These include, every fall, organizing a broad range of high quality scientific sessions that cover the breadth of epidemiologic work related to public health to promote scientific communication and further enrich career and professional development for participants. Through awards such as our distinguished John Snow Award, the only U.S. award sanctioned by the Royal Institute of Public Health, and the Wade Hampton Frost Lectureship Award, the Section recognizes contributions to public health made by students through senior career professionals.

Working with other sections and organizational units, the Section is one of the primary sections that APHA relies on to assure that APHA policy statements and Governing Council resolutions are scientifically supported, evidenced-based and sufficiently pertinent to public health issues to justify APHA’s organizational support.

So, happy 80th anniversary, APHA Epidemiology Section!  With global public health challenges abounding, the leaders and members of our section remain committed to collaborating with other public health professionals in public health practice, education, policy-making, and service to address public health challenges and lessen the burdens of illness and related conditions now and in the coming 80 plus years!

Many thanks to the dedicated leaders of the Epidemiology Section over the last 80 years, especially those I have been privileged to serve with! Special thank you’s and congratulations this years to the Section’s Membership and Communication Committee, especially Drs. Marian R. Passannante, PhD, Committee Chair, Victor A. Ilegbodu, MPH, PhD, MD, and Laurie D. Elam-Evans, PhD, MPH, with the debut of our section’s new commemorative banner!  


Yours truly,

Dr. Jim Gaudino, MD, MS, MPH, FACPM, Immediate Past Chair, APHA Epidemiology Section

Citations include: E. S. Godfrey, Jr., MD. "As I Recall It. The background and beginnings of the American Epidemiological Society,” The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. Volume 46, Number 1, February 1973.  (For more information, please read see http://www.apha.org/membergroups/sections/aphasections/epidemiology/about/   for a summary of Dr. Godfrey’s article posted on our Section’s Web page.)