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Section Newsletter
Winter 2009

Messsage From the Chair




First, let me again thank you for the privilege of chairing the Statistics Section.  It is an honor to work with the leadership team we have this year and to follow in the footsteps of others over the past 100 years.  What a celebration we had in San Diego for our 100th Anniversary!  I know that all who were there had a great time.  Special thanks are due to Marcia Testa for organizing the celebration (along with her committee of planners) and to Larry Moulton for the expanded and innovative booth in the exhibit area (along with those who staffed the booth).

As we head into our second century, we and APHA have a challenge to keep our membership up in these harder economic times.  APHA is already experiencing some loss of members.  I think our Section can do several things in this regard.  One is to recruit new members.  Bill Pan has suggested recruitment booths at several meetings of statisticians throughout the year, and we are checking into the cost of doing so and whether our budget can handle it.  A second challenge is to retain membership.  Recruitment and retention hinge on offering services and opportunities not available elsewhere.

Over the years I have personally benefited from APHA services and opportunities:  to present papers, to recruit new employees, to interact with other public health statisticians and other professions, and to serve APHA and my profession through my Section and on APHA Committees, Councils and Boards.  I have found all of this to be very rewarding.

I also think we need to provide statisticians with other reasons to belong to APHA as opposed to other organizations.  One way would be to develop a public health statistics research agenda.  This would help distinguish us from other statistical areas and legitimize us as a group.  If you have ideas for such an agenda, I would love to hear from you.

In the meantime, think about presenting a paper at the meetings this year in Philadelphia to start off our new century right!  

100th Year Celebration of the Statistics Section

At the 2008 APHA Annual Meeting in San Diego, the Statistics Section celebrated our 100th anniversary.  We are the oldest active section in APHA.  In 1906, Dr. Cressy 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 formation of the Section was completed at the Atlantic City Annual Meeting in June 1907.  At the 1908 Annual Meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the inaugural address by its first chair was given by John N. Hurty, State Health Commissioner of the Indiana State Board of Health (1896-1922).  The Section eventually abbreviated its name to “Statistics Section” to emphasize its multidisciplinary scope.


In the 2008 Opening Session of the San Diego Annual Meeting, which was attended by thousands of APHA members, the 100th anniversaries of the Statistics Section and the Health Administration Section were recognized in a short presentation of plaques to the chairs of those Sections by APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin.  We continued our celebration at the Section Booth and by combining the Tuesday Section meeting with a cocktail party and dinner dance.  More details and pictures of these events are in the following articles.


Statistics Section Booth


This year, on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary Celebration, our Section ordered a “triple-wide” booth, i.e. a 30-foot expanse of convention space.  It was a regular three ring circus, with the following attractions and giveaways: 

1)     nice comfy sofa;

2)     the traditional try-your-luck roll-and-keep-the-dice;

3)     iPod-like calculators with our name emblazoned on them;

4)     genuine M&Ms with our name on them;

5)     water bottles and travel mugs with our name, for Section members and new members;

6)     commemorative poster of “100 Years of Excellence” provided by APHA; 

7)     10-foot celebration banner; 

8)     8-foot timeline poster; 

9)     Who We Are poster with pics, quotations, and top 5 reasons to join our Section (#1: We are honestly significantly different);

10)  the 100% Confident poster we’ve had for the last 5 years, ever since we were 95% Confident of making it to 100 years;

11) tons of tasty cupcakes with “100” on them;

12) full-size stand-up cutout photo of Lowell Reed, providing many photo-ops with him;

13) “tea-test” competition to guess how many teabags were in a plastic pitcher—object was to provide the smallest interval estimate that covered the true value.

Particular thanks go to Amy Donaldson, Amy Ferketich, and Bill Pan for their contributions to the booth.


Dr. Marcia Testa and Dr Lowell Reed ‘sitting down’ on the job


As for the tea-test competition: the answer is 159 teabags.  The mean of the lower limits (51 entries) was 156, mean of the upper limits 191, i.e. biased high.  The contest was won by Beth Hedt with the interval: [140, 160].  She won a copy of Applied Spatial Statistics for Public Health Data by Lance Waller and Carol Gotway (thanks Wiley for the donation!) .  Runner-up Diane Ballerino-Regan won two SAS books (thanks SAS!):  by Pharmaceutical Statistics Using SAS by Dmitirenko et al, and  SAS for Mixed Models, Second edition by Littell et al.


Videos of the booth, and of our Sunday Business meeting, are on — both may be found with the search term: APHA Statistics.


APHA Statistics Section 100 Year Celebration Reception and Banquet

On the evening of Oct. 28, 2008 during the 136th APHA Annual  Meeting at the San Diego Convention Center, over 80 members, family and friends attended the grand finale reception and banquet of the APHA Statistics Section 100 Year (1908 – 2008) Celebration.  The pre-dinner reception was open to all members and guests and was held on the sunny and scenic outdoor terrace adjoining the banquet room.  The reception featured great conversation, intellectual discourse over glasses of wine, friendly toasts with raised mugs of beer, an assortment of hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, and music by MYDJ’s of San Diego. 


This was a once-in-a-century time for introductions and reunions, bringing together individuals with 40-plus years of membership in the Statistics Section with those who had just joined the Section during the 136th Annual Meeting.  The banquet also provided an opportunity for 13 past, present and elected Statistics Section chairs to gather for a centennial photo.  In total, 15 Statistics Section chairs attended the evening celebration. 



Statistics Section Chairs Gather at the 100th Year Banquet Celebration


Back Row Standing - Left to Right (Year of Service): William Pan (2010), Andrew White (2004), Daniel Freeman (1997), Peter Imrey (2002), Frank Potter (2000), Stanley Lemeshow (1993), Michale Stoto (2003), G. David Williamson (2007) Front Row Sitting - Left to Right: Larry Moulton (2006), Carol Redman (1994), James Leeper (2009), Martin Weinrich (2008) (holding 100th Anniversary Plaque from APHA) and Marcia Testa (2005). Chairs also attending the banquet but not present for photo were: Deborah D. Ingram (2001) and Jay Glasser (1987).


The banquet event was the culmination of a great deal of planning and preparation by the 100 Year Anniversary Committee chaired by Marcia Testa.  The committee members included Janet Eyster, James Leeper, William Pan, Larry Moulton, Amy Ferketich, Carol Redmond, Deborah Ingram and Martin Weinrich.  The evening celebrations were subsidized by Section members and by a generous donation from Phase V Technologies, Inc., Wellesley, Mass.


Following the outdoor reception, members and guests were seated in the main banquet hall to participate in the 2008 Statistics Section Annual Business Meeting co-chaired by outgoing Section Chair, Martin Weinrich (2008), and incoming Section Chair James Leeper (2009).  In addition to conducting the ordinary business of the Section, Martin officially presented the 100th Anniversary commemorative plaque presented to the Statistics Section by APHA during the APHA 136th Annual Meeting Opening Session to the full Statistics Section membership.  Andrew White proposed that the plaque’s permanent home be the APHA Headquarters, 800 I Street, Washington, D.C.  The membership voted “Yes” to the motion, and the plaque can now be viewed by all APHA members when visiting APHA headquarters. 


After the business meeting, guests enjoyed a healthy meal of salad, chicken, salmon and vegetables interspersed with lively conversions, laughter and background dinner music.  The 100 Year Celebration screen show played repeatedly featuring a Member Honor Roll listing 25-year and longer term members.  The screen show also included a brief history of statistics in public health along with numerous photos of Statistics Sections members, the 100th Year Annual Meeting Booth, and the APHA Opening Session presentation of the 100 Year commemorative plaque. 


Sergio Saldivar-Salazar, Marcia Testa and Enrique Saldivar-Salazar

During dessert and coffee guests volunteered special toasts sharing old and recent memories with the entire group.  Jay Glasser, 2002 APHA president, and 1987 Statistics Section chair, gave the  official 100 Year Celebration toast while sharing some highlights of his experiences with APHA since joining in 1967 (see photo).  Carol Redmond, a member since 1964, was given a special applause for the attendee with the longest membership and service to APHA.   After dinner the DJ livened up the music, and guests, both young and old, danced with the energy and spirit ready to commence the next 100 years.  Commemorative 100 Year Celebration pens, magnets, miniature copies of the Statistics Section 100 Year Poster and mugs were distributed to guests as souvenirs.


Jay Glasser giving toast at 100 Year Statistics Section Celebration


For the past several years, the countdown yearly slogan of the Statistics Section Annual Meeting Booth has been “We are 95, 96, 97, 98, 99 percent confident that we will reach 100 years”. Congratulations to all members -- we have reached our goal!  

Spiegelman, Section and Student Awards and Lowell Reed Lecture

Before the Lowell Reed Lecture the Spiegelman, Section and Student awards were presented.  


The Spiegelman award was presented to Hongyu Zhao, professor of public health, Department of Biostatistics, Yale University.  He is the Director of the Yale Center for Statistical Genomics and Proteomics.  The research at the Center involves the development of mathematical, statistical and computational methods to address scientific questions raised in molecular biology and genetics.


Dr. Hongyu Zhao with Spiegelman Award


The Statistics Section Academic Award was presented to Bruce Levin for his contributions to the development of innovative designs for clinical trials of medical interventions and HIV, his success in promoting a focus on participant safety in behavioral trials, and his commitment to educating public health students.


Bruce Levin with Academic Award


Louie Woolbright received the Statistics Section Government Award 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.


Louie Woolbright with Government Award


Marcia Testa received the Industry Award 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 and her commitment to teaching biostatistics to public health students.


Marcia Testa receiving the Industry Award


Bethany Hedt received the Student Award for her presentation Large county – lot quality assurance sampling.  Health surveys for local and regional program management.


Bethany Hedt receiving the Student Award


The Lowell Read lecture was presented by Stanley Lemeshow, PhD, dean of The Ohio State University College of Public Health.  The title of his lecture was Assessing the scale of continuous covariates in logistic regression modelling.  


Lowell Reed Lecturer Stanley Lemeshow, PhD




Section Officers 2008-2009

Section Officers for 2008-2009


Chair:                                                 Jim Leeper


Chair-elect & Program Chair:                   Bill Pan


Past-chair:                                          Martin Weinrich


Secretary:                                           Janet Eyster


Sec.-elect:                                          Marcia Testa


Sec. Council:                                        George Stukenborg

                                                          Al Ozonoff

                                                          Dedun Ingram

                                                          Elizabeth Zell

                                                          Diane Makuc

                                                          Brisa Sanchez


Gov. Council:                                         Frank Potter

                                                          Amy Ferketich


Action Board:                                        Amy Ferketich


Membership:                                          M. Bazle Hossain


Sec. Awards:                                         Amy Ferketich


Webmaster:                                           George Stukenborg


Booth:                                                   Larry Moulton


Student Representative:                           Megan Price