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Section Newsletter
Fall 2008

Message From the Chair


Come to San Diego this year — you can join in our 100th Anniversary celebration and help us get our second century off to a good start!


Jim Leeper has organized a great scientific program (see more details below).


Highlights include:


    *    the Lowell Reed lecture, presented this year

          by Stan Lemeshow;

    *    a special session on statistics & climate change; and

    *    a session on measuring health & population outcomes

          after Katrina.


Some of APHA's 25 Sections are losing members. I'd like to avoid having that happen to us. E-mail me your ideas for retaining current members and recruiting new ones at


Thanks in advance for your help, and I'll look forward to seeing you in San Diego!


Martin Weinrich

The APHA Statistics Section - 100 Years of Service to Public Health

Censuses have been taken since ancient times by emperors and kings trying to assess the size and strength of their realms. Clay tablet fragments from ancient Babylon indicate that a census was taken there as early as 3800 BC to estimate forthcoming tax revenues. In ancient China and Greece, governments held censuses for taxation purposes.  The Roman Empire was the first government to gather extensive data about the population, area and wealth of the territories that it controlled.  Hundreds of years later, the “Observations upon the Bills of Mortality” by John Graunt were published in London in 1665. This volume reported data on mortality and deaths from the plague between 1592 and 1665, along with other information on infant mortality, the aged, causes of deaths such as “small-pox, swine-pox, and measles, and of worms without convulsion”, as well as  numerous other  health-related  statistics.  By the late 1800s, there was widespread recognition by government agencies and national organizations that within the United States, no state knew with any accuracy its birth and death rates.  In 1900, the Census Bureau, under the leadership of Chief Vital Statistician William A. King (1900-1906) reported on national statistics of “population, mortality, agriculture, and manufacturing” and “incidents of deafness, blindness, insanity, juvenile delinquency, and the like; as well as on religious bodies; utilities; mining; and transportation, among others.”  By the turn of the century, the academic field of the statistical sciences was expanding beyond the field of applied mathematics into psychology, economics, engineering and the social and political sciences.   In 1904, H.G. Wells wrote,


“The time may not be very remote when it will be understood that for complete initiation as an efficient citizen of one of the new great complex world wide states that are now developing, it is as necessary to be able to compute, to think in averages and maxima and minima, as it is now to be able to read and write.” (Mankind in the Making, 1904).   


By the dawn of the 20th century, the efforts of the Census Bureau, the new emergence of statistical sciences within academic institutions, and the words of a popular author served as evidence that statistical thinking was gaining recognition as an applied mathematical science that could serve society at many different levels.  Against this social and scientific background, the Statistics Section of APHA was born.  Dr. King of the Census Bureau was succeeded by Dr. Cressy L. Wilbur (1906-1914), who had served for 13 years as the registrar for the state of Michigan.  The Census Bureau soon recognized that their objectives required cooperation from several organizations, including APHA.  In 1906, Dr. Wilbur wrote a resolution to the Governing Board of APHA at the Mexico City Annual Meeting calling for the creation of a Vital Statistics Section.  The final formation of the Vital Statistics Section was completed at the Atlantic City Annual Meeting in June 1907, with the inaugural address by its first chair, John N. Hurty, state health commissioner of the Indiana State Board of Health (1896-1922), given at the 1908 Annual Meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  In his inaugural address, Dr. Hurty reflected on the importance of developing a valid vital statistics registration system, but more broadly defined an important theme that has resonated in the Statistics Section for a century, when he stated:


Perhaps the most important work before us is the adoption of rules of statistical practice.  This will, doubtless, be done with wisdom, and then comes the practical working of them, a matter which will be attended with difficulties; but no difficulties shall be allowed to discourage….. We shall now proceed with intelligent and persistent energy…The Section on Vital Statistics of the American Public Health Association is now in Action.  Let the battle proceed.



During the past 100 years, the Statistics Section has been served by a large group of dedicated statisticians, public health practitioners and social scientists.  The Section eventually abbreviated its name to “Statistics Section” to emphasize its multidisciplinary scope.  To single out individual accomplishments for all those who are so deserving is impossible.  So below, we have chosen to remember and honor three individuals who exemplify and represent the honest and earnest efforts of all our members who have dedicated their careers and lives to public health, statistics and the APHA.


Lowell Reed, Ph.D. (1886 – 1966): Each year the Statistics Section honors an important contributor to the field of public health statistics by selecting an individual to give the Lowell Reed Lecture during the Annual Meeting.  Dr. Lowell Reed, for whom the Lecture is named, is one of the individuals who represent the best of what our members offer.  In 1918, Dr. Lowell Reed joined the faculty of the School of Hygiene and Public Health at Johns Hopkins University as an associate professor in biostatistics. He became a full professor in 1925, director of the School of Public Health in 1937, vice president of the University in 1947 and President in 1953, retiring in 1956. During retirement he served on the Board of the Milbank Foundation supporting research in public health.


Dr. Lowell Reed

(shown sitting center) was a renowned researcher and teacher.  The Lowell Reed Lecture is intended to continue the tradition of mentoring and collaboration in the field of statistics and public health.


Mortimer Spiegelman (1901 – 1969): At each Annual Meeting, a young, highly accomplished statistician is selected to receive the Spiegelman award. The award has been presented since 1970 to an outstanding public health statistician who is younger than 40 years of age. In 1958, exactly 50 years after the Statistics Section was formed, Mortimer Spiegelman, a member of the APHA Statistics Section and for whom the Statistics Section Spiegelman Award is named, began a project which exemplifies the work of the Section. With support from several organizations, monographs were published on 16 topics including fertility, marriage and divorce, social and economic factors in mortality, and topics ranging from accidents to homicide and venereal disease.  Spiegelman summarized the project’s efforts in an article entitled “The Demographic Viewpoint in the Vital and Health Statistics Monographs of the American Public Health Association” (Demography, Vol. 3, No. 2, (1966), pp. 574-577).


Jay Glasser: Most recently, the Statistics Section was extremely proud to have one of its members, Jay Glasser, PhD, serve as president of APHA.  He was a former Statistics Section chair, APHA Executive Board Member, APHA treasurer and 2003 APHA president,  and 2005 Lowell Reed Lecturer. Glasser’s message throughout his service in APHA is one that has emphasized connecting people to public health, strengthening the membership of the association, forging ahead with new strategic alliances and engaging the next generation of public health professionals.  In an address given at  Global Public Health: Issues and Strategies for Hawaii and the Pacific Honolulu meeting in 2002, entitled “Back to the Future,” Dr. Glasser reflected on the APHA’s founding goals, objectives and principles and how they are still relevant today.


“….So given that context I want to jump back to the four aims that Steven Smith and his confreres, the other seven who founded the APHA in 1872.  They essentially came up with four major tasks. One, to awaken and maintain the active and permanent interests of the people in sanitary administration and we can read them as public health officers. Two, to facilitate the enlightenment of the public on this topic. Three, promote the appointment of more competent health authorities. And fourth, the promotion of science and measures for practical application to public hygiene. I think this is an amazing agenda, because what I am going to argue is that this is still our agenda today. I think it is very telling, …. that the founders of the APHA included physicians, a superintendent of health i.e. a health officer, a medical and legal specialist, an architect, a health statistician and an urban housing specialist. So, I would even say that our history shows that where we are going today looking at the slide of the CDC Vision for the 21st Century we are still working, as we should, on this same agenda and hence, partly, the title of the talk, "Back to the future." Because we are still striving to do what we did then, with it's founding.”


The Statistics Section will be celebrating the past and present accomplishments of the Section and its members during the 136th Annual Meetings because (paraphrasing Dr. Glasser) “we are still striving to do what we did 100 years ago, with its founding.”  The APHA Statistics Section 100th Anniversary Evening Celebration will be held 6:30-10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008, San Diego Convention Center. 


100th Anniversary Chair, Marcia A. Testa, MPH, PhD,

2008 Annual Meeting: Public Health Without Borders

The 136th Annual Meeting will be held in San Diego from Oct. 25 to 29, 2008. This year will be an especially exciting one for the Statistics Section, which will celebrate its 100th year anniversary.  You won't want to miss it!  To learn the latest on registering for the meeting and the program, visit APHA's official Web site at The next several articles provide more details on what the Statistics Section has planned for this year.

2008 Annual Meeting: 100th Year Anniversary Celebration


Sign up for the APHA Statistics Section  100th Year Anniversary Celebration in San Diego


Reserve your place and purchase your tickets for the Statistics Section 100th Year Anniversary Tuesday Evening Celebration, Oct. 28, 2008, San Diego Convention Center, by signing up for information at the following URL


The 100th Anniversary Celebration is currently scheduled to be held in Meeting Room 28A and Terrace from 6:30–10:30 p.m. at the San Diego Convention Center. The Tuesday evening program currently includes a reception, brief business meeting and special recognition of members, history of the Statistics Section, buffet dinner, dessert, music and celebrations! 


100th Year Anniversary Donation Information: The Statistics Section is currently seeking donations for supporting the 100th Anniversary Celebration, and it will be recognizing donors in the 100th Celebration Program.   If you would like to make a donation to support Celebration activities, you may donate to the APHA Statistics Section Enrichment Fund.  You may download a copy of the 100th Anniversary Celebration instructions and Donor Form from the 100th Celebration Committee Chair’s Faculty Web Page


Go to the APHA Annual Meeting Online Program to read more about 100th Anniversary Events:


100th Anniversary Chair, Marcia A. Testa, MPH, PhD,


2008 Annual Meeting: Scientific Sessions

We have a wonderful program planned for this year. The invited paper sessions are listed here. For information on all scientific sessions, you can access the 2008 Annual Meeting program online at 


Invited Paper Sessions


I.                   Statistics and Climate Change:  Is There a Consensus?

(Monday, Oct. 27, 2:30 – 4:00 p.m.)


Organizer:  William Pan, DrPH, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


A.     Paleoclimate Temperature Reconstructions:  Implications for Climate Change, Edward Wegman, PhD, Department of Computational and Data Sciences, George Mason University

B.      Climate Past and Climate Future, Douglas Nychka, PhD, Institute for Mathematics Applied to Geosciences, National Center for Atmospheric Research

C.     Climate Extremes and Global Warming:  A Statistician’s Perspective, Richard Smith, Department of Statistics and Operations Research, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


II.                Hurricane Katrina:  Measuring Health and Population Outcomes

(Monday, Oct. 27, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.)


Organizer:  Stephanie Ventura, MA, National Center for Health Statistics, CDC


A.     Effect of Hurricane Katrina:  Births Before and After, Brady Hamilton, PhD, National Center for Health Statistics, CDC

B.      Measuring Homicide and Other Population-based Rates in Post-Katrina New Orleans, Dominique Meekers, PhD, Health Sciences Center, Tulane University

C.     Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Survey Operations — The American Community Survey Experience, Todd Hughes, U.S. Census Bureau

D.     Into the Eye of the Storm:  The Impact of the 2005 Gulf Coast Hurricanes on Population-based Health Survey Operations, Kathleen O’Connor, National Center for Health Statistics, CDC


III.             Applications of Bayesian Statistics in Epidemiology

(Tuesday, Oct. 28, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.)


Organizer:  David Dunson, PhD, Duke University


A.     Bayesian Hierarchical Estimation of Dose Response Curves, Richard MacLehose, PhD, University of Minnesota, David Dunson, PhD, Duke University, David Richardson, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

B.      Role of Bayes in More Realistic Inferences about Exposure-Disease Relationships, Paul Gustafson, PhD, University of British Columbia

Bayesian Modeling and Statistical Inference for Longitudinal Diagnostic Outcomes, Wesley Johnson, PhD, University of California – Irvine, Michelle Norris, PhD, University of California - Davis

Chair-Elect (Program Chair), James Leeper, PhD

2008 Annual Meeting: Spiegelman Awards, Section Awards, Lowell Reed Lecture

A special awards session will be held Tuesday, Oct. 28, from 2:30 – 4:00 p.m.  Please join us in honoring this year's award recipients and our Lowell Reed lecturer.


Spiegelman Award



The 2008 Spiegelman award will be given to Hongyu Zhao, professor of public health, Department of Biostatistics, Yale University. Dr. Zhao is Director of the Yale Center for Statistical Genomics and Proteomics. The research interests of the lab are to develop mathematical, statistical and computational methods to address scientific questions raised in molecular biology and genetics. Dr. Zhao has made numerous contributions to the field of biostatistics. We look forward to recognizing his achievements at this year's Annual Meeting.


Section Awards


Bruce Levin (Academic)

For his contributions to the development of innovative designs for clinical trials of medical interventions and HIV, for his success in promoting a focus on participant safety in behavioral trials, and for his commitment to educating public health students through clear exposition of fundamental biostatistical principles.


Louie Woolbright (Government)

For his dedication to the study of maternal and child health through the analysis, interpretation and reporting of mortality and risk factor data at the state level, and his leadership role in the Alabama vital statistics reporting system.


Marcia Testa (Industry)

For her leadership in Phase V Technologies, Inc., an organization she co-founded through which she focuses on research related to quality of life and health services delivery, for her longstanding service to the Statistics Section of APHA, and for her commitment to teaching biostatistics to public health students.


Lowell Reed Lecture



The Statistics Section is excited to announce that Stanley Lemeshow, PhD, dean of The Ohio State University College of Public Health, will be presenting the Lowell Reed Lecture at this year's Annual Meeting.  The title of Dr. Lemeshow's lecture is Assessing the Scale of Continuous Covariates in Logistic Regression Modelling. Dr. Lemeshow is internationally known for his expertise in biostatistics and epidemiology. His biostatistics research includes statistical modeling of medical data, sampling, health disparities and cancer prevention.

2008 Annual Meeting: Rema Lapouse Award

The Rema Lapouse Award for excellence in the field of psychiatric epidemiology will be awarded to Avshalom Caspi and Terrie Moffitt of Duke University this year. They will receive this coveted award presented by the Mental Health, Epidemiology and Statistics Sections at a special session in their honor on Oct. 27, 2008, where they will present the Rema Lapouse Lecture at this year's Annual Meeting.


TERRIE E. MOFFITT is professor at Duke University in the departments of Psychology and Neurosciences, Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, and the Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy. A licensed clinical psychologist, Moffitt received her clinical training at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute (1982-1984) and a doctorate in psychology at the University of Southern California (1984). Dr. Moffit studies how genes and environment work together to shape abnormal human behavior. Her particular interest is in antisocial and criminal behavior; depression, psychosis and addiction are also areas of interest.


AVSHALOM CASPI was born in Israel and educated in the United States (PhD, Cornell University, 1986).  Dr. Caspi has served on the faculties of Harvard, Wisconsin, the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, and Duke University.  His research spans the fields of psychology, epidemiology and genetics.  Dr. Caspi’s  current research seeks to answer three questions:  (1) What are the best ways to assess and measure personality differences between people, and how do such differences shape health, wealth and relationships?  (2) How and why do adverse psychological experiences in childhood give rise to poor physical health in adulthood?  And (3)  How do genetic differences between people shape the way they respond to their environments; in particular, how do genes alter resistance to psychological stress?

Spotlight on Next Year's Chair-Elect: William (Bill) Pan, DrPH

Bill Pan is currently an assistant professor in the Department of International Health at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  He is a statistician who was born to get dirty with data.  He hails from Minnesota with an outdoor spirit, received a BA in mathematics from Boston College, and then ventured to Emory University, where he obtained a Masters in Public Health in the Department of International Health (now Global Health).  At Emory he not only gained important knowledge pertaining to public health practice, he obtained valuable experience working at the Epidemiology Program Office at CDC as well as in China with UNICEF, where he realized the value of strong analytical training.  After China he returned to the United States and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he completed both masters (1999) and doctoral (2003) training in biostatistics.  At Tar Heel nation, Bill was an NICHD Trainee in Population Statistics and Demography with Chirayath Suchindran and pursued additional training in spatial statistics, which was not taught in the department at the time.  His dissertation was in the area of population-environment dynamics in the Ecuadorian Amazon that demonstrated the application of multilevel spatial modeling in studies of demographic, environmental and economic change. 


 Collecting water quality data for monitoring mosquito larval habitat (April 2008)


Bill’s research interests fall in the realm of applied statistics.  His research is highly interdisciplinary as he collaborates with demographers, geographers, epidemiologists, clinicians, biologists, entomologists, ecologists and laboratory scientists.  His most recent research involves the development of a systems-based approach to modeling co-morbidities (malaria and diarrheal infection) based on individual, demographic, geo-spatial and ecological risk in the Peruvian Amazon.  As part of his research, Bill puts on several hats: he is an ecologist and geographer, obtaining and training team members in data collection of water quality/characteristics, land use, and from satellites; bait for Anopheles darlingi, the primary malaria vector in the Amazon, where he spent 17 days traveling along a remote river collecting mosquitoes to help develop transmission models; and, of course, the primary statistician who is responsible for all data management and analysis.  His research was recently covered by NPR in their Climate Connections series where Bill and his colleagues in Peru guided NPR reporters on a two-day excursion into the Amazon Rainforest. 


Statistics and quality control in the field (April 2008)


In APHA, Bill has served as the Statistics Section secretary/secretary-elect (2005-2007), Section Councilor (2007-2008) and was honored to be elected chair-elect this past year.  He has been a member of APHA since 1995 and a member of the Statistics Section since 2003.  This past year Bill has been active in helping to plan the 100th Anniversary of the Statistics Section and organized a special session for the Annual Meeting in San Diego titled “Climate Change and Statistics: Is there a Consensus?”


Bill is also the proud husband of Sophia Papadeas, a Johns Hopkins School of Medicine neuroscientist working on stem cell research related to Lou Gehrig’s disease, and a beaming father of a 2.7-year-old daughter Zoe, a Hopkins prodigy at the Johns Hopkins Day Care.  Zoe is an accomplished fisherwoman who caught three 2-pound catfish at the annual Department of International Health picnic!  The Bass Pro Tour has already contacted her for future events, but Bill is skeptical.

Statistics Section Officers



Chair: Martin Weinrich, PhD

Chair-Elect: James Leeper, PhD

Immediate Past Chair: G. David Williamson, PhD


Secretary: Amy Donaldson, MS

Secretary-Elect: Janet Eyster, PhD


Section Council: Diane Makuc, DrPH; Linda Marc, ScD; John Hall, MS JD; Al Ozonoff, PhD; Amy Ferketich, PhD; William Pan, DrPH


Student Assembly Liaison:  Megan Price


Governing Council:  Frank Potter, PhD & Marcia Testa, PhD


See the Section Web site,, for contact information for Section officers. The Web site also highlights other individuals who continue to play a significant role within the Section. Thank you all for your hard work and continued leadership!




The election results are in, and the newly elected officers for next year (2008-9) are:


Chair-Elect: William Pan, DrPH

Secretary-Elect: Marcia A. Testa, PhD

Section Council: Deborah Ingram, PhD; Elizabeth R. Zell, MStat

Action Board Updates

Hello to all, some brief legislative updates and news about recent Action Board activities:


1) The proposed new policies and proposed archive policies have been finalized and are available on the Web (links below).  The Joint Policy Committee will vote on each of these policies at the Annual Meeting in October.


Proposed policies:

Archived policies:


2) Legislative update:

  • Mental health parity
    • Procedural delay in Senate
    • Push for passage in September
  • Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act
    • FDA regulation of tobacco
    • Passed House with veto-proof majority
    • Upcoming Senate debate
  • Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act
    • General Medicare reforms
    • Congressional override of presidential veto; now law

Complete legislative update:


3) This summer marked the beginning of APHA’s new Public Health Action (PHACT) campaign.  Members of APHA are encouraged to educate legislators and candidates running for office about the need to include public health in the upcoming election debate.  More information about PHACT is available here:


Leading up to the November elections, APHA is trying very hard to keep membership engaged in the electoral process.  Look for more information in The Nation’s Health and other APHA communications.


As always, I look forward to hearing from anyone that would like to learn more about public health advocacy and Action Board activities.  Please feel free to contact me at any time.  Thank you!


-Al Ozonoff, Boston University School of Public Health

Section Councilor and Action Board Representative