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Section Newsletter
Fall 2003

Message from the Chair

Michael Stoto, PhD, Statistics Section Chair 
Michael Stoto, PhD, Statistics Section Chair
I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about the Statistics Section's current efforts for promoting continuing education opportunities within APHA. Continuing education in statistical methods and applications is essential to the public health practicing statistician and to the entire membership desiring to update skills and keep abreast of the latest developments in quantitative methods. This year the Statistics Section plans to continue the time-honored tradition of bringing educational programs directly to APHA members.

As part of its efforts to support statisticians in public health practice, the Statistics Section is sponsoring three Continuing Education Institutes at the 131st APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Francisco, Nov. 15 - 19, 2003. As you might know, the APHA Annual Meeting provides more educational offerings in public health than any other event. Several types of continuing education are available to the registrants. I would like to remind all attendees that on Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 15 and 16, 2003) various Continuing Education Institutes will be conducted.

On Sunday, Nov. 16, I will offer a half-day course in "Statistical Methods for State and Local Public Health Data" (CEI# 2022; 8:00 - 11:30 a.m.). Aimed at public health practitioners, this short course will introduce participants to statistical methods appropriate for state and local public health data and address practical aspects of their use. Topics will include: 1) issues in the development and use of state and local public health data for community health indicators reports, performance measurement and public health report cards; 2) surveillance and outbreak detection for bioterrorism and emerging infections; and 3) privacy and confidentiality in the public release of state and local public health data. For more information go to <>.

On Saturday, Nov. 15, Andrew Lawson (University of South Carolina) and Richard Hoskins (University of Washington) will offer a full-day, in-depth "Introduction to Spatial Epidemiology and GIS" (CEI 1003; 8:00 - 5:00 p.m.). This Institute is targeted to public health practitioners needing to develop surveillance and assessment support and activity in their health department using the principles of spatial epidemiology and GIS (Geographic Information Systems). The purpose of this Institute is to provide an introduction to the geographical analysis of disease incidence and indicate how to use that information to communicate with policy makers and a community. The first half of the program will focus on basic concepts within spatial epidemiology: relative risk, confounders, ecological bias, control diseases, expected rates, and standardization of mortality and morbidity rates and ratios. The second half of the course is designed to introduce participants to the use of a GIS for public health disease surveillance, and health status, risk factor assessment. Further details can be found at <>.

Back for a third year by popular demand, Tom Lang, MA, will offer a session on Sunday, Nov. 16, on "Interpreting and Reporting Public Health and Medical Research: Techniques and 13 Key Questions" (CEI 2027; 2:30 - 6:00 p.m.). Anyone interested in becoming more informed consumers of public health and biomedical literature would benefit from this Institute's offerings. Several techniques and tools for critically appraising the literature will be presented, including perspectives to reading the literature, checklists for authors and readers, and references to aide readers. The bulk of the workshop is structured around a series of 13 general questions about the purpose, design, conduct, analysis and interpretation of a research study. For more information go to <>.

These short Institutes are co-sponsored by the Epidemiology Section and the American Statistical Association. More details on the entire continuing education program can be found at <>. I believe that these Institutes offer a valuable opportunity for public health professionals to efficiently broaden their expertise on key areas of public health practice. I would like to invite all APHA members to register.

APHA Statistics Section -- 95 Years Old and 100 Percent Confident of Surviving to 100 Years

Visit our booth, Exhibit Space #1917, at the Annua 
Visit our booth, Exhibit Space #1917, at the Annual Meeting
In 2003, the Statistics Section celebrated its 95th anniversary.
The Section was first organized in 1908, 36 years after APHA itself was founded. The Statistics Section is one of the oldest Sections sharing a common formation year with the Health Administration Section.

The success and longevity of the Statistics Section can be credited to the conviction of its members who have remained true to its founding purpose by providing a focus for persons involved and interested in Public Health statistics.

In celebration of the 95th anniversary of the founding of APHA Statistics Section, the Section will sponsor a booth at this year's APHA 131st Annual Meeting, thanks to the efforts of Larry Moulton <> and other members. Remember to stop by Exhibit Space #1917 and say hello. We are interested in sharing new ideas and exploring topics and activities that might be of interest for the upcoming year.

Make sure to tell others to drop by and consider joining the section.

Statistics Section Expecting Excellent Attendance at Scientific Sessions in San Francisco

San Francisco Marriot at 55 Fourth St 
Statistics Section annual meeting headquarters will be the San Francisco Marriott (55 Fourth St) adjacent to the Moscone Convention Center, close to Chinatown, and the Powell Street cable cars.
The Statistics Section scientific program for the APHA 131st Annual Meeting & Exposition is set for this year, and with 13 sessions, should provide something of value for everyone attending the meetings. While the sessions always attract our Statistics Section members, our sessions have also been of interest to many co-sponsoring groups including: CHPPD, HIVAIDS, SHES, PHEHP, EPI, CHC, and PHN. We've listed session titles and times at the end of this article.

In addition, the Statistics Section is also co-sponsoring selected sessions in other sections, SPIGs, and interest group programs – including those organized by CHPPD, ATOD, EPI HIVAIDS,MCH, and SPT1848. Statistics Section members are encouraged to look for the dates and times of these offerings in the main program. We believe that these sessions should be of particular interest to our membership, as they represent the more quantitative and data-oriented sessions featured at the APHA Annual Meetings.

This year's agenda spans the entire meeting with the first Statistics Section session beginning on Monday, Nov. 17, at 8:30 a.m. and the last session ending at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 19. Note that there are three sessions which share a counterterrorism theme. These sessions are on Monday at 2:30 p.m., Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. and Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. Also, there are two sessions whose themes revolve around computer intensive methods. These two sessions will be held at 12:30 p.m. on both Tuesday and Wednesday. In addition, there are invited sessions on "Tracking Healthy People 2010," "Multi-level Analysis of Racial Disparities in Preterm Birth Rates and Individual and Neighborhood Characteristics," and the "Active Bacterial Core Surveillance (ABCs) System" (a counterterrorism-based session).

Of special note this year are the additional invited talks during the Statistics Section's “keynote” sessions on Tuesday afternoon. These begin with a 2:30 p.m. session for the Lowell Reed Lecture and the Spiegelman and Statistics Section awards, followed at 4:30 p.m. by the Statistical Methodology Session entitled "Statistical Methods and Models for Bioterrorism" (another of the counterterrorism themed sessions specifically organized by last year’s Spiegelman award winner, Xihong Lin, PhD). At 6:30 p.m., these sessions will be followed by the yearly Statistics Section social hour and business meeting. Immediately following the business meeting all of the Statistics Section officers and interested members typically head out to dinner. If you are interested in joining this evening dinner event, please see the article -- "The Statistics Section Post Business Meeting Dinner Arrangements" below.

Unless otherwise noted in the final program, all Statistics Section sessions will be held in the San Francisco Marriott.

Statistics Section Scientific Sessions -- APHA 131st Annual Meeting, San Franciso, 2003

    Monday, Nov. 17, 2003
  • 8:30 a.m. (3086.0) Current Public Health Issues: Statistical Analyses

  • 10:30 a.m. (3156.0) Tracking Healthy People 2010

  • 12:30 p.m. (3245.0) Multi-Level Analysis of Racial Disparities in Preterm Birth Rates and Individual and
    Neighborhood Characteristics

  • 2:30 p.m. (3314.0) CounterTerrorism and Biomedical Surveillance I: Methods and Data

  • 4:30 p.m. (3383.0) Classification Issues in Public Health Policy

    Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2003
  • 8:30 a.m. (4086.0) Health Services Research and Clinical Methods and Education

  • 12:30 p.m. (4173.0) Spatial Analysis and Mapping – Data Mining – Report Cards and (4174.0) Survey, Epidemiologic, and Clinical Methods

  • 2:30 p.m. (4238.0) Lowell Reed Lecture, Speigelman and Statistics Section Awards

  • 4:30 p.m. (4321.0) Statistical Methodology Session: Statistical Methods and Models for Bioterrorism

  • 6:30 p.m. (446.0) Statistics Section Business Meeting and Social Hour

    Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2003
  • 8:30 a.m. (5074.0) CounterTerrorism and Biomedical Surveillance II: Active Bacterial Core Surveillance (ABCs)System

  • 12:30 p.m. (5135.0) Web and PC Methods in Public Health Statistics

The Statistics Section Post Business Meeting Dinner Arrangements

For those of you who want to get together for dinner after the Social Hour and Business Meeting in San Francisco, we have arranged to meet at the Fly Trap Restaurant at 606 Folsom Street - just 6/10 of a mile from the Marriott. The Fly Trap serves traditional San Francisco fare and has accorded high acclaim from many culinary critics, including Gourmet and Bon Appetit. The atmosphere is elegant and upbeat. The menu includes classic San Francisco dishes such as celery Victor, chicken coq au vin and shrimp Louie.

For Tuesday evening I have chosen a selection of entrees (choice of 3), salads (choice of 2) and desserts (choice of 2). The price per person will be approximately $45 including tax and gratuities.

Because seating is limited, please email me in advance of the meeting if you want to join us. We look forward to seeing you there.

Secretary Elect and 2003 Annual Meeting Social Planner

Meet the New 2004 Statistics Section Officers

Andrew A. White, MPH, PhD, 2004 Chair, APHA Statistics Section
The current Chair-Elect, Andy White, and Secretary-Elect, Charity Moore, have been responsible for planning several activities at this year's Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Andy coordinated this year's excellent scientific sessions, while Charity took responsibility for the social arrangements including the Awards Luncheon, the Statistics Section Tuesday Social Hour and Tuesday Dinner.

Since both Andy and Charity will be taking over for Mike Stoto and Marcia Testa at the San Francisco Meetings, we'd like you to get to know them better by reading below.

This year's Statistics Section Chair-Elect and 2004 Chair is Andrew A. White, MPH, PhD. Andy White is director of the Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) at the National Academies (National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine and National Research Council). CNSTAT brings the academic and federal statistical communities together to improve the statistical methods and information on which public policy decisions are based. Interested members may go to <> to learn more about CNSTAT. Andy also served as a senior study director for two projects on decennial census methodology and as committee deputy director prior to his appointment as director.

Before joining the National Academies, he was chief of the Statistical Technology Staff in the Office of Research and Methodology at the National Center for Health Statistics and also served as a senior member of the Survey Design Staff. Andy also served as consulting biostatistician to the Michigan Department of Public Health and as team biostatistician for the Hypertension Unit in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan.

His other consulting experience includes Rhodeside and Harwell, Inc., for community surveys on the impact of electric transmission lines, and the Portuguese Ministry of Health on the design of the Portuguese Health Interview Survey.

Andy has been active in the professional statistical community in a variety of capacities. He has served as an elected member of the APHA Statistics Section Council and also as member of the Annual Meeting program committee. Andy just completed a three year term as president-elect, president, and past president of the Washington Statistical Society (WSS), the American Statistical Association’s (ASA) largest chapter. He has also served as chair of the ASA Council of Chapters (COC) Nominating Committee and recently served as COC vice chair for three years. Prior to that, he was the WSS’ representative on the COC for three years. In addition he has served as a local science fair judge, and has been elected WSS methodology chair and a short course committee member in the past.

Andy is a member of the American Association of Public Opinion Research, APHA, the American Statistical Association (Elected Fellow), the International Biometric Society (ENAR), the International Statistics Institute (Elected Member), the International Association of Survey Statisticians, Sigma Xi (Elected Member), and the Washington Statistical Society. He has also served as an organizer for the Public Health Conference on Records and Statistics, as an editor and reviewer for Vital and Health Statistics, and has served as a referee for the American Journal of Public Health, Biometrics, Journal of Chronic Diseases, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Journal of the American Statistical Association, Journal of Official Statistics, Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Communications in Statistics, and the Journal of Economic and Social Measurement.

He is active in the community, serving as a volunteer instructor for high school juniors and seniors when they spend a week in Washington each year with the Presidential Classroom. Andy holds three degrees from the University of Michigan, a bachelor’s in political science, and an MPH and PhD in biostatistics. He has been invited to lecture on statistics, sampling, survey design, geographic information systems, cognitive issues in surveys, and the federal statistical system at the University of Chicago, USC, UCLA, Case Western Reserve, University of Washington, Brown University, University of Texas, University of Maryland, Yale University, University of Rhode Island, Indiana State University and Strayer College. His current research interests include health statistics; national indicators; census, survey, and sampling methodology; economic measurement issues; evaluation; and statistical policy.

This year's Secretary Elect and 2004 Secretary of the APHA Statistics Section is Charity G. Moore, MSPH, PhD. Charity Moore earned her BS in Statistics and Mathematics in 1995 from Eastern Kentucky University. She went on to receive her MSPH and PhD in Biostatistics at the University of South Carolina in 1997 and 2000, respectively. After completing her doctoral study, Charity went to Chicago to work as a practicing biostatistician with movement disorder specialists, neurosurgeons and kinesiologists.

Armed with this real world experience, Charity returned to the University of South Carolina in January 2002, where she served as a biostatistician for the South Carolina Rural Health Research Center. Charity is now the associate director of the Center and holds the faculty appointment of Research Assistant Professor of Biostatistics in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina. The Center focuses on investigating persistent inequities in health status within the population of the rural United States, with an emphasis on inequities stemming from socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, and access to health care services. While at the Center she has gained extensive experience working with data sets from the National Center for Health Statistics such as the National Health Interview Survey. Her research interests include complex survey sampling, longitudinal data analysis, modeling count data and communication of statistical results to non-statisticians. Charity has also been very active in teaching several courses including Introduction to Biostatistics, Effective Data Management for Public Health and Clinical Trials.

Moving Forward to 2004: Officers, Meetings and Program Planning

    Newly Elected to Assume 2004 Positions

    The torch for Section Officers and Councilors will be passed at this year's Annual Business Meeting in San Francisco. As mentioned above, Andy White and Charity Moore will be stepping into the positions of Section Chair and Secretary. Michael Stoto, PhD, will be moving on to the position of Immediate Past-Chair.

  • Marcia A. Testa MPH, PhD, will be leaving her position of Secretary, but having been recently elected will become Chair-Elect. She also will be the Section's Program Chairperson for the APHA 132nd Annual Meeting, which will be held in Washington, DC, Nov. 6 - 10, 2004. "Public Health and the Environment" has been selected as the general theme for the 132nd Annual Meeting. The theme will be given emphasis in the general and special sessions, and the Statistics Section will attempt to make it an integral part of the Section's program. We are also encouraging Section members to submit abstracts and suggestions for special topics in all areas of interest.

  • Stuart A. Gansky, MS DrPH, University of California, San Francisco, <>, will assume the position of Secretary Elect, so he will be checking out the social scene for the APHA Annual Meeting in Washington for next year's Annual Meeting. Of course, since San Francisco is Stuart's hometown, we are also counting on him to point us in the right direction for late night fun and festivities at this year's APHA Annual Meeting.

  • Newly elected Section Councilors are Deborah D. Ingram, PhD, National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, MD, <>, and Craig D. Turnbull, MPH, PhD, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, <>. The newly elected Governing Councilor is Diane M. Makuc, DrPH , National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, MD, <>.

Current Officers

Michael A. Stoto, PhD, Chair
Andrew A. White, MPH, PhD, Chair-Elect
Marcia A. Testa, MPH, MPhil, PhD, Secretary
Charity G. Moore, MSPH, PhD, Secretary-Elect
Peter B. Imrey, PhD, Immediate Past-Chair

Current Section Council Members (Term End Date):

Lawrence H. Moulton, PhD (2003)
J. Jackson Barnette, MA, PhD (2004)
Brenda W. Gillespie, PhD (2004)
Elizabeth R. Zell, M Stat (2004)
Janet T. Eyster, PhD (2005)
Martin C. Weinrich, MA, PhD (2005)

Governing Council (Term End Date):
Frank J. Potter, PhD (2003)
Carol K. Redmond, MS, SCD (2005)

    2004 APHA Annual Meeting Abstracts due February, 2004

  • If you are interested in organizing an “Invited Session” or being a speaker for an invited session at the 2004 Annual Meeting please contact:

    Marcia A. Testa, MPH, PhD <>, Voice: 617-432-2818, Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, 655 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115

131st APHA Annual Meeting -- Highlights of General Sessions

    There are many exciting general sessions at this year’s Annual Meeting, but we would like to call your attention to the following three:

  • President’s Session (3256.1) Monday, Nov. 17, 2:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

  • Critical Issues in Public Health (4088.1) Tuesday, Nov. 18, 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

  • APHA Closing Session (5190.0) Wednesday, Nov. 19, 4:30 p.m.-6:00 p.m.

Each session will include presentations on issues of great importance to the fulfillment of the public health mission in the 21st century by panels of outstanding experts. The panels are designed to provoke participants to view the future of their profession and to develop strategies for assuring public health effectiveness in the future.

Brief descriptions of these Sessions are provided below. For further information on the Sessions go to the <>, then click on the Scientific Sessions link.

President’s Session
This session will focus on the challenges and opportunities facing public health in the 21st century. Topics to be discussed are: the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations on the future of public health practice and education; strategies to eliminate health disparities; mobilizing public support for universal health care; and a summary of the present state of public health as a “starting point” for the future.

Critical Issues in Public Health
This Session will further amplify the discussion of issues of central concern in the 21st century. The topics to be covered in this session are: new strategies to reduce the prevalence of substance abuse; approaches towards controlling the epidemic of obesity; strategies to reduce the high incidence of traffic accidents; and dealing with the threat of emerging zoonotic infections.

Closing General Session
For the first time, the Closing General Session will feature a panel discussion. Three areas of central concern to public health in the 21st century will be discussed. The topics to be covered are: the impact of the rapidly advancing science of genomics on public health; the threat of new and emerging infectious diseases; and the promise of technology in helping disabled people to overcome their physical limitations.