Section Newsletter
Winter 2010


Message from the Chair

By: William Pan, PhD, APHA Statistics Section Chair



Greetings and Happy New Year!


Let me start by thanking several people who have dedicated enormous amounts of time and energy to improving our section and being vigilant of our interests in APHA.  With the help of Karl Peace, APHA’s Archivist, I reconstructed a list of all our elected positions from 1990 to 2010 (Chair, Secretary, Governing Councilors and Section Councilors).  The list is impressive, with 68 people volunteering their time to help our section, nine of whom have held the same position at least twice.  Marcia Testa and Janet Eyster have both been Secretaries twice, Frank Potter has been on the Governing Council twice and Steve Cohen, Paula Diehr, Janet Eyster, Dedun Ingram, Diane Makuc and Craig Turnbull have all served on the Section Council for at least two terms.  This doesn’t include the many people who have volunteered in other ways such as on the Awards and Spiegelman Committees, Web- and Booth-master, Membership Chair and Action Board.  Volunteering is the core of APHA, and we could not function as a Section without you – so keep up the great work!


One of the activities I engaged in to prepare as Chair was to read messages from past Chairs.  Every Chair in the past decade has addressed the very low participation of our section members and the glaring question remains: How do we increase participation of the rest of our section members?  Is there a disconnect between the way each of us perceives ourselves in the organizations/companies for whom we work and that of APHA?  Does the Section fail to present itself as a mechanism of action for our personal and/or ideological goals?  Are we disempowered due to miscommunication, either sending or receiving information?  While time is likely the primary limiting factor, participation in Section leadership activities over the past 21 years is shockingly low, averaging around 5-10 percent per year.  The fault likely lies within the Section in the realms of governance, communication and opportunities for action.  However, it is also important to point out that volunteering requires a very small time commitment. 


This is where I would like to kick off 2010, our 103rd year depending on how one counts.  During the 2009 Annual Meeting, I mentioned several goals for our section that I would like to describe in greater detail below.  These are in addition to our standard expectations of organizing the Annual Meeting, which is being completed by Karl Peace, and communicating APHA activities to our section members.   


1.  Remind People of Our Mission. 


We have become a Section that is believed to be “only for statisticians,” and several people who would be excellent advocates of our mission to be “promoters of good statistical practice” are often turned off because of the perceived need to have a statistical degree. Our section will always be a majority of statisticians and other quantitative experts, but we need to correct this perceived image.


In fact, our section is historically rooted in demography – in the late 1800s, there was widespread recognition that no U.S. State knew with any accuracy its birth and death rates.  In 1900, the Census Bureau lead by Cressy Wilbur, 1906-1914, undertook the development of an annual system to collect vital statistics data that would be able to produce comparable statistics on a national basis.  The Bureau 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.  Our first chair, John Hurty, noted the importance of developing a valid vital statistics registration system in his inaugural address and broadly defined an important theme that has resonated in our section for nearly a century:


“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.” 

John N. Hurty- APHA Statistics Section Inaugural Address

Winnipeg, Manitoba, APHA Annual Meeting, 2008


We need to remind other members of APHA that the Statistics Section exists to ensure public health science is conducted with statistical vigilance and that the policies endorsed by the organization should be supported by strong scientific evidence.  That has been our calling since 1907. 


2.  Increasing Membership


As of December 2009, we had 420 members.  Our goal is to increase membership by 10 percent.  How will we do this?  I believe the keys are: (1) Reiterating our resolution as “promoters of good statistical practice” in public health within our personal and professional networks; (2) Reach out to all organizations (industry, academia, government) that are affiliated with our section to post fliers that introduce and briefly describe our section.  We will have finalized versions of information fliers describing our section very soon, which will be part of a large advertising campaign to boost knowledge of our section to potential future members; and (3) Recruit students from Schools of Public Health, particularly in departments of biostatistics, epidemiology and health economics where students begin to appreciate the importance of good statistical practice.  The first two components are relatively easy, require little effort and alone will likely allow us to achieve our goal of recruiting 42 new members. 


The recruitment of students is more important for the sustainability of the Section.  Thus, I am proposing that we formally establish the Annual Student Research Competition through the formation of a Student Awards Committee.  The goal will be to design this award such that it becomes one of the most prestigious honors in public health that students can win.  Ideally, the competition would involve the top four student submissions being invited to present at the annual meeting with students receiving financial support to attend and the top student being awarded a plaque for their research achievements. Much of this is already done in an informal fashion – for example, many of the requirements are already outlined and Altarum Institute, SciMetrika, and STATA have all graciously donated prizes and money for the 2010 awardees.  This is a great start.  If you are interested in volunteering for the Student Awards Committee please contact me as soon as possible. 


3.  Social Networking and Volunteerism


The two most important events for our section over the past five years was our 100th Anniversary Celebration organized by Marcia Testa and the establishment of the multiple membership policy that was championed by Andy White.  I personally know almost 10 new “secondary members” that joined our section simply because of the Anniversary party.  This networking has strengthened our section, but we cannot stop there.  Generation X is quickly adopting the social networking tools of Generation Y, who will be key recruiters of Generation Z (X+Y=Z … simple enough).  Social networking tools include Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, ScienceStage, and more.  A more complete list can be found on Wikipedia.  These Web portals not only allow people to stay in touch with very little effort, they allow information to be shared quickly and efficiently.  We have established a team to begin creating social networking sites for our Section that is being coordinated by Mike Baiocchi (  and we have recruited a new Webmaster Katherine Lin (, to help redesign our Web site.  If you are interested in helping out, please contact Mike or Katherine.  They have already created Statistics Section sites on Facebook and Twitter, so please check them out.  Although we won’t reach the level of Ashton Kutcher, who has over 4 million Twitter followers, we can definitely bring the Statistics Section into the age of Web networking!


By working together we can increase membership, strengthen our section, and increase our influence in public health.  These are three ambitious, yet achievable goals for 2010.  As John Hurty said, “Let the battle proceed!”


By: Marcia Testa, Statistics Section Secretary & Newsletter Editor

During the 137th APHA Annual Meeting, the Statistics Section continued its business into the next 100 years. The following articles discuss the events of the meeting and spotlight a few of the members who took part in these events. We would like to thank everyone who participated.  To those who were unable to make it and to all Statistics Section members, we hope to see you at the 138th Annual Meeting & Expo in Denver,   Nov. 6-10, 2010. Save the date!

Sunday Evening Business Meeting of the Statistics Section Officers

The outgoing Statistics Section Chair, James Leeper, prepared to pass the Section Leadership torch to incoming Chair William Pan during the annual business meeting of the Statistics Section officers on Sunday evening, Nov. 8, 2009. 


James Leeper (right), outgoing Chair, prepares to pass the Section Leadership torch to William Pan (left), incoming Chair.


Janet Eyster, outgoing Statistics Section Secretary, moved formally into “APHA retirement” after 35 years of membership. The Statistics Section would like to take this opportunity to thank Janet for her decades of services to the Statistics Section. Janet joined APHA in 1976 and has served in several elected Statistics and Governing officer positions.  Most importantly, she served as the Statistics Section’s archivist and historian. Janet received her PhD in statistics from Michigan State University in 1977, and then went on to serve on the faculty there. In 2004, while a member of the Department of Epidemiology at Michigan State, she won the Statistics Section award. At the 2004 Annual Meeting, she was recognized for her dedication to the Statistics Section particularly for her “exemplary assistance in placing the Spiegelman Award on a sound footing, for her philanthropic work, and for her contributions to hierarchical statistical modeling.”


During the Sunday meeting, the Section officers discussed their reports on membership and collaborations with American Statistical Association (James Leeper), Section Newsletter (Secretary-Elect Marcia Testa), Governing Council and APHA elections (Frank Potter and Amy Ferketich), Action Board and Section Awards (Ferketich), Spiegelman Awards (Leeper), Section Budget (James Leeper) and Statistics Section Booth and Web site (Larry Moulton).


Statistics Section Scientific Sessions

The Statistics Section scientific activities spanned a wide range of methodological topics including challenges with health insurance, drinking water and public health, environmental factors affecting children, lead in drinking water and children’s health and policy.  However, what happened in Philadelphia does not have to stay in Philadelphia – at least with regard to the scientific meetings.  If you missed the meetings, or just a particular presentation, you can always attend via the distance learning Webcast services that are offered by APHA.  If you missed a particular Statistics Scientific Session, just go to:


Click on the Session you’re interested in, and it will bring you to the session agenda with a listing of each of the talks.  You may listen via “Audio (mp3) recording” or “Multimedia recording”.  It will ask you to select your playback mode, either “online” or “download” to your computer drive.  Finally, you will be prompted to enter your last name and “personal subscription ID (PSI)”.  Your PSI would have been e-mailed to you if you selected the e-learning option at registration; however, if you cannot find it you will have the option to have it sent to you again.  Also, if you did not register for this service, you will be given the option to pay a fee to do so.


There were many members who participated in the scientific sections.  We would like to spotlight one of the Section’s long-serving and valued Statistics Section members, Professor Daniel H. Freeman, Jr., PhD, a Past Statistics Section Chair (1997) who has also served as an officer in several positions.  He’s currently a Statistics Section Councilor (2010-2012).  Daniel Freeman is the Edgar Gnitzinger Distinguished Professorship in Aging; Director, Office of Biostatistics; Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University Texas Medical Branch at Galveston’s School of Medicine.  He is also Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. He previously served on the faculties of Yale University and Dartmouth Medical School. He has mentored dozens of master of public health students and doctoral students.  His academic interests include aging, adolescent health and community based participatory research. The Section is honored to have him as a member.  


Statistics Section Newsletter Winter 2010 spotlights Professor Daniel Freeman.


2009 Spiegelman and Statistics Section Awards Ceremony

Every year during the Annual Meeting, Tuesday is Statistics Section Day.  Activities begin with continuation of the scientific sessions during the morning followed by the noon luncheon for the Statistics Section Officers and Statistics Section Award Winners. The Awards luncheon was followed by the Lowell Reed Lecture, Spiegelman and Statistics Section Awards Session organized by 2009-10 Chair-Elect William Pan, 2008-09 Chair James D. Leeper, Amy Ferketich and Hongyu Zhao.


Statistics Section Chair James Leeper gives the welcome presentation during the Awards Ceremony.

2009 Spiegelman Award Winner

Rafael Irizarry, PhD, professor of biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, was this year’s Spiegelman Award Winner. Rafael received his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in 1998. His outstanding research in bioinformatics and computational biology and academic accomplishments over the next 10 years propelled him to the rank of professor, and we honored him as this year’s award winner. 


Dr. Irizarry’s research involves developing quantitative methods and software for genomics and epigenomics with a particular focus on microarrays and second generation sequencing. These technologies are used to measure diverse high genomic endpoints including genotype, chromosomal abnormalities including deletions/insertions, protein binding sites, methylation and alternative splicing.


He states that with these technologies, a number of steps are required to convert raw measures into the results relied upon by biologists and clinicians. These data manipulations influence the quality of the ultimate measurements and studies that rely upon them. He and his research team specialize in using modern statistical methodology to improve the accuracy and precision of these measurements, relative to ad-hoc procedures introduced by manufacturers of the technology.


Hongyu Zhao, PhD (left), Spiegelman Award Committee Chair and Professor of Public Health, Yale University, presents the award plaque to the 2009 Spiegelman Award Recipient, Rafael Irizarry, PhD (right), Professor of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

2009 Statistics Section Award Winners

Dr. Jack Barnette was honored with the 2009 Statistics Section Academic Award for his many years of service in public health graduate programs, his outstanding teaching in biostatistics and his important contributions to the Statistics Section through his participation on the Action Board (2002–2004) and Statistics Section Council (2002-2004). He holds a PhD in educational research and development from The Ohio State University (1972). After more than 25 years in the field of educational research and evaluation as a faculty member at Ohio State, Penn State, Virginia, Memphis and Alabama at Tuscaloosa, Dr. Barnette took a position in the College of Medicine at the University of Iowa. In 1999, when the College of Public Health at Iowa was established, he was appointed associate dean for education and student affairs and associate professor. At Iowa, he developed the dual degree programs with the MPH; directed CEPH accreditation; set up a distance education based Summer Institute and directed the Iowa Center for Public Health Evaluation. In 2004, he accepted the position of senior associate dean for academic affairs and professor of biostatistics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is a member of the National Board of Public Health Examiners, the group developing the Certification in Public Health examination.  He has served as an APHA Statistics Council Member and Section Representative to the APHA Action Board.  He chaired the Association of Schools of Public Health ASPH Biostatistics Competency workgroup and is past co-Chair of the ASPH Biostatistics/Epidemiology Section. 


Jack Barnette, PhD (left), receives the Statistics Section Award from Chair James Leeper (right).


Lei Zhang, PhD, MBA, Mississippi Department of Health (MSDH) was honored with the 2009 Statistics Section Government Award for his dedication to the study of infant mortality and associated risk factors through the analysis, interpretation and reporting at the state and public health district level and his leadership role in the Mississippi Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System and Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. Dr. Zhang was named director of the Office of Health Data and Research at the MSDH in November 2007. In this position he’s responsible for directing and providing data and research support to Health Services with an emphasis on maternal and child health. Prior to this appointment, he served as bureau director and business systems analyst at the MSDH. He has also held adjunct academic appointments at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the University of Southern Mississippi and the Jackson State University. Dr. Zhang received a bachelor's degree from the Chengdu University of Technology in China and an MBA from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. He received his Master of Science and PhD in preventive medicine from the University of Mississippi.


Lei Zhang, PhD, MBA (left), Director, Office of Health Data and Research, Mississippi Health Department, receives the Statistics Section Award from Chair James Leeper (right).

2009 Certificates of Appreciation & Annual Booth Competition

Chair James Leeper presented Certificates of Appreciation to: William Pan for his services as program chair; Marcia Testa for past Statistics Section services and for chairing the 100th Anniversary events; Janet Eyster for her services as the Statistics Section archivist and in recognition of her retirement; and Larry Moulton for his dedication to the Statistics Section Booth and Web site. William Pan presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Michael Bajocchi, University of Pennsylvania, the winner of the Student Research Competition.


Michael Bajocchi was the 2009 winner of the Student Research Competition.


The 2009 Statistics Section Booth was a Red Ribbon 2nd Place Winner in the Annual Booth Competition, with Prof. Lowell Reed "greeting" all visitors in the Exhibition Hall.  

2009 Lowell Reed Lecture

The 2009 Lowell Reed Lecture entitled “Measuring the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Approaches and Challenges” was delivered by Ronald Brookmeyer, PhD, professor of biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and currently, professor, Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Brookmeyer’s research is at the interface of biostatistics and public health. A main theme of his work concerns statistical and quantitative approaches for measuring the health of populations through the development of statistical methods and models for tracking and forecasting health and disease. Dr. Brookmeyer has worked extensively on the development of methods for tracking the course of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. He developed the back-calculation method for disease forecasting, and proposed statistical approaches for biomarker based methods for ascertaining current worldwide HIV incidence rates. He has also worked extensively on issues of biosecurity by developing models for tracking and containing anthrax outbreaks. His research interests in biostatistical methodology include survival analysis, epidemic models, epidemiological methods and multidimensional longitudinal data.


Prof. Ronald Brookmeyer remembers Prof. Stephen Lagakos, during the 2009 Lowell Reed Lecture


During his lecture Professor Brookmeyer reviewed methodologies that are currently being used to produce national and global HIV and AIDS statistics.  He stated that the “statistics are changing.”  He stated that the latest UN AIDS Worldwide estimates show that the number of people living with HIV infection decreased their previous estimate by 6 million people and that the incidence of HIV infection decreased by 42 percent. Dr. Brookmeyer noted that these changes in the statistics are not without some controversy. He noted that the day before his Lowell Reed Lecture, the UN AIDS Agency denied that it had previously inflated statistics to raise funds. To hear more about what has been deemed the controversial topic of the collision between epidemiology, statistics and political advocacy, go to Prof. Brookmeyer’s presentation using the APHA Web site links to the meeting presentations:


or watch (six, 10-minute parts) on the APHA YouTube site at:


The presentation can also be downloaded from in -


WRF Version at:


WMV Version at:



Remembering Professor Stephen Lagakos

At the beginning of his presentation, Prof. Brookmeyer remembered Prof. Stephen Lagakos, Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, who was killed tragically on Oct. 13, 2009, in a car crash in New Hampshire.  Professor Lagakos was a world renowned researcher in the fight against HIV and AIDS.


Prof. Stephen Lagakos (1946 – 2009) is remembered for his enormous contributions to biostatistics and public health.


“Steve was a real giant in our field of biostatistics and public health. He made enormous contributions to survival analysis in clinical trials and in HIV methodology and HIV epidemiology. I had the great pleasure to serve with Steve. He chaired an Institute of Medicine Panel recently on HIV methodological issues. He was really a wonderful colleague, very insightful statistician. He has really been a role model for me my entire professional life so it is a really great loss, I think to the field. In fact, he was a Spiegelman Award winner as well. He won the Spiegelman Award in 1983.” Quote by Ronald Brookmeyer, PhD, Lowell Reed Lecture, November 2009


A memorial Web site for Professor Lagakos can be found at:

Special Annual Statistical Methodology Session Coordinated By Dr. Hongyu Zhao - “Challenges in Genomics Studies”

After the Lowell Reed Lecture, the Statistics Section sponsored the Special Annual Statistical Methodology Session entitled “Challenges in Genomics Studies.” The 2009 session was organized by the a previous Spiegelman Award Winner, Hongyu Zhao, PhD, professor of public health, Yale University. The objectives of the session were to describe the challenges of using genomics and proteomics technologies in public health research; to introduce novel statistical methods to address these challenges; and to demonstrate the usefulness of these methods in practical public health studies. 


Prof. Zhao explained that during recent years there have been evolutions in molecular technologies that enable scientists to collect data at the genomics and proteomics levels. One example is the genome wide association study design where genetic information is collected at up to one million markers for thousands of individuals. This paradigm has led to the discoveries of hundreds of chromosomal regions affecting risks for dozens of common diseases in the past several years. However, there are significant statistical challenges in the analysis and interpretation of these rich data. The session reviewed statistical issues arising in this context, introduced a number of novel statistical and computational methods, and outlined the power of statistical thinking in analyzing these very high dimensional data. 


The speakers and talks were: Mitchell Gail, MD, PhD, “Value of adding single nucleotide polymorphism data to a model that predicts breast cancer risk”; Xihong Lin, “Statistical Issues and Challenges in Analyzing High-throughput 'Omics Data”; and Jianqing Fan, “Variable selection in analysis of high-throughput data”.  The session recordings can be found at:

Statistics Section Social Hour & Business Meeting

The Statistics Section Social Hour and Business Meeting gave all members an opportunity to meet each other, socialize and make suggestions on Section activities and business. It is the responsibility of the secretary-elect to make arrangement for the Social Hours and Tuesday evening dinner. The arrangements were organized by Marcia Testa with help from Leia Hall, Phase V Technologies, Inc.


James Leeper conducts final business during the Tuesday Night Reception/Business Meeting

Statistics Section Celebration Dinner

This year’s dinner was held in a special dinning room at Maggiano’s Restaurant directly across from the Philadelphia Convention Center. 


The finale of Statistics Day has traditionally been the Tuesday Night Dinner. The dinner was subsidized by a generous donation from Phase V Technologies, Inc. Wellesley Hills, Mass. Thirty-five members and guests attended the family style private dinner that served a sumptuous multicourse Italian menu. The family style gave people an opportunity to talk with old friends and make new ones. 


Ron Brookmeyer (center) carefully passes around a dish of calamari after delivering the Lowell Reed Lecture earlier in the day while having a lighter-hearted conversation with colleague Michael Stoto (front) and other guests.

Public Health Statistics Photo Album

Due to newsletter guidelines, only a certain number of the pictures taken at the APHA Statistics Section Meeting were able to be shared with you.  If you would like to download these pictures or any others, please fill out the Zoomerang survey at:


An invitation to the Statistics Section Photo Album on will then be sent to you.  Once you have joined, you may browse, download, and share pictures from the Annual Meeting and future events to come.


Below are a number of news briefs submitted by the various members of the APHA Statistics Section.

2010 Lowell Reed Lecture

The 2010 Lowell Reed Lecturer for the APHA 138th Annual Meeting is Clare Weinberg, PhD. The Lecture will be given on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010 in Denver. Put this date on your calendar. Dr. Weinberg is chief of the Biostatistics Branch at The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). She has focused her research on the development of improved methods for design and analysis that account for sources of bias, missing data, response heterogeneity and mismeasurement in epidemiologic studies. 


Dr. Weinberg is collaborating with Dale Sandler, PhD, chief of the Epidemiology Branch at NIEHS, in a major cohort study of breast cancer, called the Sister Study.  Information on this study can be found at Along with her colleagues, Weinberg is now undertaking a new study called the Two Sister Study, which builds on the Sister Study with funding from Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Information on this study can be found at 


We are happy to announce Dr. Clare Weinberg as the 2010 Lowell Reed Lecture and eagerly await her lecture at the 2010 Annual Meeting in Denver.

CDC Tool for Assessing the Public Health Impact of Excessive Drinking

By: Mandy Stahre


With generous support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Alcohol Program in the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP) at CDC has launched the Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI) software. ARDI is an online tool that allows users to assess deaths and Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL) at the state and national levels due to excessive drinking (e.g., binge drinking). Currently, ARDI reports the average number of deaths and YPLL for 2001-2005. These outcomes are assessed for a total of 54 chronic (e.g., alcoholic liver disease and liver cancer) and acute (e.g., motor-vehicle traffic crashes and homicide) conditions that were judged by a panel of experts to be alcohol-related. Alcohol-attributable deaths and YPLL can also be assessed by age and sex, and for youth under 21 years of age. In addition to the data that are already available through ARDI, a custom data feature in the software allows users to upload data on deaths and the prevalence of alcohol consumption in a particular area (e.g., city or county) to generate local estimates of deaths and YPLL due to excessive drinking. This custom data is protected through a secure log-in, so only the users who entered it can access the results and generate custom reports.  ARDI can be accessed through the CDC’s Alcohol and Public Health Web site at: Technical assistance is also available for users by contacting

Contributions of Karl Peace Recognized by U.S. Congress

By: Marcia A. Testa


Dr. Karl E. Peace was honored on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for his numerous professional and charitable contributions. Peace was honored Sept. 8, 2009 by Rep. Robert Wittman, R-Va., who cited Peace’s numerous contributions to drug research and development, public health, biostatistics and philanthropy.  

“Dr. Peace has a dedicated record of philanthropy to education," Wittman said. "He has created 21 endowments at five institutions including three at his alma mater, the Medical College of Virginia, and one at Randolph-Macon College. He endowed the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, the first school of public health in the University of Georgia System. His endowments have enabled hundreds of students to complete their undergraduate or graduate degrees. Dr. Peace has generously donated time and resources to organizations such as the American Cancer Society, the Georgia Cancer Coalition, the Southeast Georgia Cancer Alliance and the Southwest Georgia Cancer Coalition that are dedicated to cancer research, treatments and cures."

Creating an Effective Graph

By: Xueyuan Wang


It’s easy to make histograms to compare a set of data by county. How about to show the population size of each county on the same chart using different colors? One way is to change each bar color based on the county's category you set up in Excel. I bet if you had to make 20 or 30 charts like I recently did, you would want to find a more efficient way to do this. I am happy to share with you my discovery of how to set up the bar colors automatically for each category.  


The trick is to set up the data series in different columns so that your counties would be listed in each row. If the county has data in category column 1, you would then leave the other category columns blank. You can then sort the Excel file by category number to have a more organized Excel file. When you create a chart from this Excel file, it will have different sets of data in different colors on the chart. In the end you get the same results in less time. 


If you have any questions or comments, contact Xueyuan Wang at

Expanded Access to Sensitive Public Health Data

By: Peter Myer


The National Center for Health Statistics has extended its Research Data Centers network. This allows access to a wide range of statistical data products on health and well-being for public, private and academic resources. The Research Data Centers will offer a variety of data available from the NCHS portfolio and other federal resources, including the National Health Interview Survey, the National Survey of Family Growth, the Vaccine Safety Datalink, Mortality Data, Medicare Enrollment Data, Census Data and other data resources. These data are accessible at centers in the D.C. metro area, Boston, New York City, Ithaca, Durham, Atlanta, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Minneapolis, Berkeley and Los Angeles. For more information, contact Peter Meyer, NCHS/RDC Director, at

Improve Membership in the APHA Statistics Section

By: Karl E. Peace


Membership in the Statistics Section of APHA has dropped 25 percent over the last 14 years; from 558 in 1996 to 420 in 2009. With the expansion of public health, in academics and practice, one would think that there would have been an increase. The Statistics Section is the oldest section in APHA. It is time that we conducted a study to assess the reasons for the decline and to develop a program for increasing membership. I'm requesting volunteers who are willing to work on this project.  If you’re interested, contact: Karl E. Peace, 2010 APHA Statistics Section Chair-Elect, at Thank you.

New Edited Book on 'Statistical Methods in Molecular Biology'

By: Madhu Mazumdar


Madhu Mazumdar is one of four editors on the new book, "Statistical Methods in Molecular Biology."  While there is a wide selection of 'by experts, for experts’ books in statistics and molecular biology, there is a distinct need for a book that presents the basic principles of proper statistical analyses and progresses to more advanced statistical methods in response to rapidly developing technologies and methodologies in the field of molecular biology.  "Statistical Methods in Molecular Biology" strives to fill that gap by covering basic and intermediate statistics that are useful for classical molecular biology settings and advanced statistical techniques that can be used to help solve problems commonly encountered in modern molecular biology studies, such as supervised and unsupervised learning, hidden Markov models, methods for manipulation and analysis of high-throughput microarray and proteomic data and methods for the synthesis of the available evidences. 

This detailed volume offers molecular biologists a book in a progressive style where basic statistical methods are introduced and gradually elevated to an intermediate questions of interest to molecular biologists and the state-of-the-art statistical approaches to analyzing the data. As a volume in level, while providing statisticians knowledge of various biological data generated from the field of molecular biology, the types of the highly successful "Methods in Molecular Biology" series, this work provides the kind of meticulous descriptions and implementation advice for diverse topics that are crucial for getting optimal results. Comprehensive but convenient, "Statistical Methods in Molecular Biology" will aid students, scientists and researchers along the pathway from the beginning strategies to a deeper understanding of these vital systems of the data analysis and interpretation within one volume of the book.

New Positions

By: Jamison D. Fargo


In October 2009, Jamison D. Fargo, PhD, MSEpi, was appointed as an associate fellow with the Center for Public Health Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.  In January 2010, he was also appointed as a member of the Research Core for the National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans, located in the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. The center has a mandate from the Department of Veteran Affairs to end homelessness among veterans within five years.

Interested in Collaborating? UNICEF - Child Health in West Africa

By: David J. Fitch


Dear Colleagues,

I’ve been thinking about the Jan. 12, 2010 Lancet evaluation article by Jennifer Bryce et al on the 27 million dollar UNICEF child health effort in West Africa, which seems to have led to the decision to cancel the work.  Efforts were made in areas of poor health, and the outcomes were similar to those from better off areas without UNICEF efforts, showing an unbelievably bad design.  I’ve been thinking and came up with an article idea.  If you’re interested in helping or have any comments or thoughts, contact: David J. Fitch at  Thank you.

Predicting and Preventing Homicide: A Cost-Effective Empirical Approach from Infancy to Adulthood

By: Robert John Zagar


The entire February 2009 issue of Psychological Reports, all 377 pages, was devoted to a new math model of violence. As a result of this research, Robert John Zagar was appointed to Mayor Daley's Youth Violence Task Force. Multiple meetings resulted in a $60 million U.S. Justice Department grant to focus jobs and anger management on 38 homicide area high school high risk teens. This was featured in the Oct. 6 front page articles in the NY Times and Chicago Tribune that included interviews with Chicago Public Schools CEO Huberman. The accuracy of prediction of homicide as measured by area under the curve obtained with Shao's bootstrapped logistic regressions was .88-.98, improving earlier ROC's of .70-.76.

Social Networking – How to Connect With Us

As we mentioned, we’re trying to strengthen our section through social networking, which will allow us to share information quickly and efficiently. We have set up accounts for the Statistics Section on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Below you will find instructions on how to find us on each site. If you do not already have an account of one or all of these sites, it is fairly simple to create one, and the Web sites can help you through this process.





Log into your Facebook account. Once you’ve logged in, search for “American Public Health Association Statistics Section”. Click “Become a Fan” and you’re all set. You will now receive notifications from us about new things posted and can post your own updates onto our page. If you’d like to help other members find us, you can click “Suggest to Friends” and send an invite to anyone you think would like to follow the page as well.





Log into your Twitter account. Once you’ve logged in, click “Find People”.  When asked who you’d like to search for type in “aphastat”.  A list will come up with the link to our twitter account and three buttons on the right hand side. The first button, which you want to click, is to “Follow aphastat”.  You can now read our postings and share information with us.




Most people have heard of Facebook & Twitter, but not many have heard of LinkedIn.  For those who haven’t heard of this site, it’s the world’s largest professional network with over 55 million members and growing rapidly. It connects you to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas and opportunities with a broader network of professionals.


If you want more information, go to the site below for a short overview of LinkedIn:


Log into your LinkedIn account. Once you’ve logged in, search the LinkedIn Groups directory for “American Public Health Association Statistics Section”. Click the APHA logo in your search results to be brought to our page. Click “Join this Group” and you’re all set.  You can now read our postings and share information with us.





For YouTube, you do not have to actually sign up for the site.  If you want to get updates on videos, you will need to get an account so you can subscribe to the APHA Statistics page, which can be found at:


If you wish to subscribe, log into your YouTube account and click the "Subscribe" button at the top the APHA page. You can watch any videos that are posted such as the 2009 Lowell Reed Lecture, which is currently available for viewing.

Webinar on Bayesian Statistics for Biosurveillance

By: Howard Burkom


In an ongoing campaign to improve collaboration between the academic research and public health practice communities, the Research Committee of the International Society for Disease Surveillance conducted a Webinar entitled "Applications of Bayesian Statistics for Biosurveillance" on Jan. 28, 2010.  Speakers were: Rochelle Watkins from Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Australia; David Banks from Duke University; Greg Cooper from University of Pittsburgh RODS Laboratory; and Owen Devine from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Forty attendees listened to presentations followed by a 30-minute discussion. Presenters’ slides and a recording of the event are downloadable at:


To join this committee or learn of similar upcoming events, contact Rachel Viola at

Special Thanks

The Statistics Section would like to thank Phase V Technologies, Inc. for their generous contribution to the 2009 Statistics Section Celebration Dinner, and also to Leia Hall from Phase V Technologies for assisting with the Celebration Dinner invitations and arrangements, and for volunteering as the Statistics Section Newsletter Editorial Assistant to Editor Marcia Testa.