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Outstanding research rankings

Emory University is the #1 research university in Georgia based on external sponsored research, and Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH) faculty were important contributors to that ranking. For example, Associate Dean of Applied Public Health Kathleen Miner is the second highest funded investigator at Emory. The Department of Behavioral Science and Health Education (BSHE) is the second highest funded academic department on campus, and the Department of International Health (IH) is the sixth. Of the major three research universities in the state, Emory posted $351,000,000, followed by Georgia Institute of Technology with $341,000,000 and the University of Georgia with $228,000,000. Emory's growth of 10% from the last year was welcome news, particularly considering NIH funding grew only 3.6%.

Biostatistics celebrates a 40th anniversary

In the 40 years since its founding, the Department of Biostatistics has grown to include 19 full-time doctoral faculty, nine associate faculty, two jointly appointed faculty, and 16 adjuncts, who teach and conduct research that is national and international in scope. Established at Emory in 1963, it became in 1990 one of six departments in the RSPH. This fall Biostatistics celebrated its 40th anniversary with presentations on its history by Chair Mike Kutner, Emerita Professor Donna Brogan, and President of the Medical University of South Carolina and former RSPH Dean Ray Greenberg. Brogan, retiring after 33 years at Emory, was honored for her service, including her tenure as chair of Biostatistics from 1991-1995. The celebration--which drew more than 120 people currently or formerly associated with the department--included lectures on the future of the field, biostatistical methods in imaging research, and biostatistical methods in occupational studies.

Center for Infectious Disease Analysis

This fall, Emory established an interdisciplinary Center for Infectious Disease Analysis. Directed by Professor of Biostatistics Elizabeth Halloran, the center coordinates work already under way on campus, in which biostatisticians apply statistical modeling to some of today's most challenging epidemics, such as smallpox, cholera, influenza, and SARS. The center will not only raise visibility for medically and mathematically linked research projects but also encourage more work in bioinformatics, vaccine development, and understanding transmission of infectious diseases. One of its first projects is modeling a disease outbreak in a hypothetical American community and identifying the best ways to control an epidemic. The research--supported by a five-year, $3 million grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences--is part of a new NIH initiative known as MIDAS (models of infectious disease agent study) and is led at Emory by Principal Investigator and Professor of Biostatistics Ira Longini, who was instrumental in establishing the center.

Prevention Research Center

The RSPH received a $3.8 million grant to establish a Prevention Research Center in partnership with Southwest Georgia Cancer Coalition, a Georgia Cancer Coalition (GCC) Regional Program of Excellence. Led by Karen Glanz--professor of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education (BSHE) and a GCC scholar--the partners will work jointly in 33 counties in southwest Georgia in an initiative designed to reduce high cancer rates. They seek to promote prevention behaviors, specifically targeting smoking and nutrition issues, and creating a foundation for additional collaborations in this medically underserved region. In addition, Emory's PRC has received $2.5 million in additional funding for Special Interest Projects initiatives. One award, led by Glanz, supports a five-year role in the Cancer Prevention & Control Research Network. The other, led by GCC Scholar Kyle Steenland in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH), supports a three-year study of quality of life for men with localized prostate cancer.

Institute of Medicine membership

Congratulations to Professor of Epidemiology Ruth Berkelman on her recent election to the Institute of Medicine (IOM). RSPH adjunct faculty members who are were elected this year include CDC Director Julie Gerberding and CDC Director of Chronic Diseases James Marks. RSPH has a solid representation in the IOM, including faculty members James Curran, Godfrey Oakley, and Reynaldo Martorell; jointly appointed faculty Michael M.E. Johns, Jeffrey Koplan, Marla Salmon, and Rick Martinez; adjunct faculty Arthur Kellermann, Claire Broome, Roger Glass, Jaime Sepulveda, Jim Hughes, Don Hopkins, and Mark Rosenberg, and emeritus faculty William Foege.

RSPH relief effort for Grenada

As a public health coordinator in Grenada, Tonia Frame, 03MPH, saw first-hand the destruction of Hurricane Ivan: "Nothing is like it was prior to the hurricane. Many people have lost everything they own." Frame recently wrote to thank RSPH for assisting Grenada with donations of money, water treatment equipment, roofing and building materials, generators, medical supplies, clothing, and more. International Health Office Manager Sandra Smith, who organized the RSPH response, filled her 15-passenger van to capacity three times with donations. RSPH students also helped package donations at the relief effort's centralized location for transport to Grenada.

RSPH at the G8 Conference

Security was tight at the fall G8 conference held in coastal Georgia, and among those prepared to deal with any natural or man-made public health emergency were students from the RSPH. The eight students were part of a state public health team, and they got a chance to witness up close how public health works in the field during a high-profile event. They participated in discussions about disease surveillance, worked with hospital staff, observed food service inspections, and were available to contribute to disease case investigations. Research Professor of Epidemiology James Buehler, a consultant to the Georgia Division of Public Health and principal investigator on the Academic Health Department Project, helped link the students to this fieldwork.

New faculty appointments

The following faculty are newly appointed to the RSPH:

Stephanie Ebelt, research assistant professor in EOH, will work with Paige Tolbert's research team on air pollution epidemiology. She is completing her ScD in Environmental Health at Harvard, with a thesis on the impact of air pollution on cardiovascular health.

Chensheng (Alex) Lu, assistant professor of EOH, is an expert in exposure assessment and biomarker development. His recent work focuses on quantifying exposure to pesticides using novel methods such as saliva analysis. He also is engaged in a longitudinal approach of assessing aggregate exposure to pesticides in children and a study of human exposure to pesticides due to variations of dietary consumption patterns.

Anne Riederer, senior research associate in EOH, recently earned a ScD in environmental health from Harvard School of Public Health, where she focused on residential exposures to developmental toxins in the Philippines. Her research looks for practical ways to mitigate environmental risks in the developing world, with a special emphasis on water pollution.

Jeremy Sarnat, assistant professor in EOH, focuses on air pollution, especially particulates. Most recently, he was a research fellow in exposure, epidemiology, and risk at Harvard, and he previously worked as a staff scientist at the Israel Union for Environmental Defense.

Paul Terry, assistant professor of epidemiology, focuses on the etiology of cancers of the digestive tract and several hormone-mediated cancers. He has completed doctoral studies in epidemiology at Columbia University and Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and a fellowship at the National Institute of Environmental Sciences.

Faculty promotions

Congratulations to Eugene Huang, who has been appointed as associate professor of biostatistics with tenure. His statistical research interests are in the theory and methods for censored outcomes, or survival data, and in contaminated covariates (errors in covariates). Congratulations also to Usha Ramakrishnan, who was promoted to associate professor of International Health with tenure. Her major area of research is maternal and child nutrition, focusing on micronutrient malnutrition during pregnancy and in young children.

Faculty accolades, awards, and activities

*Ruth Berkelman (Center for PH Preparedness) has been appointed chair of the Public and Scientific Board of the American Society for Microbiology.

*Colleen DiIorio (BSHE) will receive the 2004 Distinguished Scholar in Nursing Award at New York University in November for her significant contributions to nursing and healthcare as well as the 2005 Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Iowa in June. She also was elected from the RSPH to serve a three-year term on the President's Advisory Council (PAC), the group that reviews promotion and tenure decisions and advises the Provost and President of Emory University. Her term follows that of Ronald Braithwaite, who recently completed service on PAC.

*Howard Frumkin (EOH) received the Environmental Professional of the Year Award from the Georgia Environmental Council, being commended for his work on the Clean Air Campaign.

*Elizabeth Halloran has been appointed to a four-year term for NIH's study section on Biostatistical Methods and Research Study.

*Vicki Hertzberg (Bio) has been appointed to the University Advisory Council on Teaching (UACT) from the RSPH. The UACT is an organization dedicated to supporting teaching across Emory University. Carol Hogue recently completed a term of service with UACT.

*Amita Manatunga (Bio) will serve as the RSPH member of the University Research Committee (URC). This committee distributes approximately $500,000 to Emory University faculty who apply for funding.

*Walter Orenstein (IH), associate director of the Emory Vaccine Center and associate director of the Southeastern Center for Emerging Biologic Threats at Emory, received the Charles C. Shepard Lifetime Scientific Achievement Award from CDC.

*Lance Waller (Bio) received the Abdel El-Shaarawi Young Research Award from the International Environmetrics Society, which recognizes excellence in environmental statistics research by a researcher under 40.

*Kathryn Yount, along with former MPH student Michele A. Sinunu and Humphrey Fellow Nadia El-Afifi, received the Nobuo Maeda International Research Award from the Gerontological section of APHA for substantial contributions to international research and policy.

James W. Curran, MD, MPH

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