Member Spotlight


Denys T. Lau, PhD


Denys T. Lau, Ph.D., is the deputy director of the Division of Health Care Statistics at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, the Nation's principal health statistics agency. The Division of Health Care Statistics administers the National Health Care Surveys, a family of health care establishment surveys that provide policy-relevant data on the provision and use of ambulatory, inpatient, outpatient, long-term care, and end-of-life care services. He also holds an adjunct associate professor appointment at the University of Illinois-Chicago, College of Pharmacy, where he was full-time faculty prior to joining the CDC. He is on the editorial board of APHA’s American Journal of Public Health.

Dr. Lau held an academic appointment as assistant professor at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine. He was former section editor, guest editor, and editorial board member of Clinical Therapeutics, an international peer-reviewed drug therapy journal. He served on an NIH study section on Health Services Organization and Delivery and was a health scientist at two other federal health agencies - AHRQ and HRSA.

A previous NIH-funded principal investigator, Dr. Lau has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles, editorials, and technical reports/briefs examining the safe and effective use of health care and pharmaceutical services in vulnerable older adult populations. His major work includes medication management among home hospice patients; inappropriate medication use in nursing home residents and community-dwelling older adults with dementia; and caregiving network influence on preventive and home health care use in older adults, particularly those living alone and those in sexual and racial/ethnic minority groups. His research has appeared in the American Journal of Public Health, Archives of Internal Medicine, Diabetes Care, Health Services Research, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Journals of Gerontology, and Journal of Pain & Symptom Management.

Dr. Lau earned his Ph.D. in health services research from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and B.A. with distinction from Cornell University. He completed a Pfizer post-doctoral fellowship in pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research at the University of Michigan. He also completed a certificate program in Management Skills for Innovative University Leaders at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.



The major part of my career has focused on the safety and quality of health care use, particularly pharmaceutical and preventive services, among vulnerable older adult populations. My public health interest is aligned squarely with the Aging & Public Health section’s mission to improve the health, functioning, quality of life and financial security of the aging population. I am proud to be part of this section because it provides a forum on the intersection of public health and the aging population where members can interact and collaborate to fulfill the mission through research, practice, education and advocacy. This lasting camaraderie and common dedication to aging and public health among the section’s members are what sustain my long-standing interest and continuous involvement with this section.

I have been an active member of APHA since 1998 while I was a public health student at Johns Hopkins University. I began my leadership role as the elected Student Chair of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Caucus of Public Health Workers. As my research focus started to take shape, I became active with the Aging & Public Health Section. The section was so welcoming that I ran for several section leadership roles, including the Section Councilor and the Secretary. There is a wide array of sponsored awards programs in the section that recognize the achievement of its members at different stages of their career. I served on multiple APHA award selection committees, including the Jay S. Drotman Memorial Award for Promising Young Public Health Professional (past winner); co-chairing the Retirement Research Foundation/Laurence G. Branch Doctoral Research Award (past winner); chairing the Betty J. Cleckley Minority Issues Research Award (past honorable mention); and the Archstone Foundation Award for Excellence in Program Innovation. Most recently, I chaired the 2013 Section Awards Committee/Ceremony and am currently the chair of the Nobuo Maeda International Research Award Selection Committee.

Since 2001, I have presented 23 abstracts at the APHA Annual Conference (consecutively for the last 6 years). The opportunities to be involved and to help lead this section are numerous. I am excited to continue my long-standing commitment to this section and to APHA. I welcome all of you to join and take part in the section’s fun activities and leadership roles. You will be able to build long-lasting friendships and professional networks with many leaders in the aging field!


Meet some of our student members!

Caroline D. Bergeron                    Qinghua Li


Caroline D. Bergeron, is a doctoral candidate in public health in the Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. She has a Bachelor's degree in Communications and a Bachelor's degree in Spanish from the University of Ottawa, Canada, and a Master's degree in Communications from the University of Montreal, Canada. Caroline is currently working on her doctoral dissertation entitled "Post-Fall Decision Making among Older Women Living in Continuing Care Retirement Communities: A Mixed Methods Study". She has been awarded the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Doctoral Research Award for Patient-Oriented Research. Her research focuses on healthy aging, women's health, and health communication.

Caroline is the student representative on the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) Editorial Board (2013-2014), an APHA campus liaison at the University of South Carolina (2013-2014), as well as an APHA abstract reviewer (2012-present) for the Aging & Public Health Section, the Women's Caucus, and the Student Assembly. She is also the Chair of the South Carolina Public Health Association (SCPHA) Student Section (2013-2014), past secretary of the SCPHA Student Section (2012-2013), and a representative on the Arnold School of Public Health Dean's Student Advisory Council (2013-2014). For more information about Caroline’s work in public health and aging, visit:

Qinghua Li is a Doctoral Candidate in the Health Services Research and Policy program in the Department of Public Health Sciences, at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She received a Bachelor of Medicine degree from China. She is interested in policies and health services research for the aging population. Currently she is working on her doctoral dissertation research examining the impact of dementia and mental illness on quality of care in nursing homes, and investigating the association between nursing home work environment and residents’ mental health outcome. In her doctoral studies and training she has been involved in research projects related to quality of end-of-life care for nursing home residents with and without dementia, measurement of end-of-life care quality in nursing homes, and healthcare worker influenza vaccination in nursing homes. She authored and co-authored articles published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society and Journal of the American College of Cardiology. In 2012 she was the winner of the Laurence G. Branch Doctoral Student Research Award, given by the Aging and Public Health Section of the American Public Health Association.


(Caroline) I am an active member of the APHA Aging & Public Health Section because I think it is important to stay connected and up to date on aging related studies, events, and opportunities. I do so by reading the Section emails and newsletters, checking the Facebook page, participating in the discussions on LinkedIn, and following the Section on Twitter. I also think the Aging & Public Health Section represents an invaluable network of researchers and resources on aging and I love to be involved in such a passionate community of individuals.

(Qinghua) My interest in joining the Aging and Public Health (A&PH) section of APHA was inspired and supported by my PhD program in Health Services Research & Policy at the University of Rochester. Faculty members from my doctoral program, other students, and program graduates have been actively involved in the section’s committees and activities, presented their research, and received awards from the A&PH section. Through their encouragement and example, I became a section member. I find the A&PH section to be very supportive of and welcoming to graduate students and young investigators. The section provides opportunities to meet national experts in public health services research for the elderly, and to share research ideas and findings. As the Student Representative of the A&PH section, I have witnessed and have been involved in the section’s efforts to provide students with strong mentorship, support, and research awards. I look forward to more student participation in the A&PH section.

Mary Beth Morrissey, PhD, MPH, JD


Mary Beth Morrissey , who earned her PhD in gerontological social work in 2011 at Fordham University where she was a recipient of the Langenfeld Research Award for her doctoral research, MPH (NY Medical College School of Public Health, 2005), and JD (Fordham, 1982), is currently a Fellow of the Global Healthcare Innovation Management Center, and Faculty Director of the Post-Masters Health Care Management Program in Public Health, Palliative and Long-Term Care, Fordham University Graduate School of Business Administration, an interdisciplinary education and training program she designed and launched in the Spring 2013 for health professionals and health care and business managers.

Her scholarship and practice in health law/policy, public health, and bioethics inform her research on pain, suffering, traumatic illness, and palliative care. She is currently funded by the Translational Research Institute for Pain in Later Life for a pilot study of pain and decision making among seriously ill older adults. Her publications advance a phenomenology of pain, suffering, and maternal care, and include, A Phenomenology of Maternal Care and Moral Agency: Serious Illness, Pain, Suffering and Recovery (Routledge, forthcoming); Partners in Palliative Care: Enhancing Ethics in Care at End of Life (co-edited with Bruce Jennings, Routledge, 2012); “Relationship between pain and chronic illness among seriously ill older adults: Expanded role for palliative social work” (co-authors Deborah Viola and Qiuhu Shi, Journal of Social Work in End-of-Life and Palliative Care, in press); and “The urgent need for public policy to improve pain care: Implications for social work advocacy” (Handbook of Oncology Social Work, in press).

In January, Mary Beth assumes the roles of President of the State Society on Aging of New York ( ) and president-elect of the Public Health Association of New York City (, and continues her leadership as founder and president of the Collaborative for Palliative Care ( ), chair of the APHA Aging & Public Health Section policy committee, chair of the Palliative Care Subcommittee of the New York City Bar Association Bioethical Issues Committee, and co-chair of the Health Law Committees of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York, the Westchester Women’s Bar Association, and the Westchester County Bar Association.


I share and actively support the Section’s commitment to the advancement of health, well-being and equitable access to health care for all aging Americans through the promotion of public health policy, investment in public health infrastructures and long-term services and supports, and interdisciplinary geriatric education and training. In my service as past chair of the newsletter, and currently as Section Councilor and chair of the policy committee, I have had the opportunity and privilege to collaborate with outstanding research scholars, as well as policy advocates, in helping to disseminate information about the Section’s public health agenda and policy goals and priorities, and most recently, in navigating the policy process within APHA that resulted in APHA’s adoption at the annual meeting of the Section’s palliative and end-of-life care policy proposal, Supporting Public Health’s Role in Addressing Unmet Needs in Serious Illness and at the End of Life.

Building on the strong spirit of collegiality, cooperation and collaboration among the members of our Section, I look forward this year to working with Section leaders and my colleagues on the policy committee in formulating policy proposals that will help to address the most significant policy gaps in dementia and pain care, and public health and geriatric workforce development to meet the growing needs of our frail elders who are increasingly burdened with multiple chronic and life-limiting illnesses in an environment of shrinking resources, restrictions on drug availability, and erosions of informal caregiver support systems.