ACE 2013 Election Biographical Sketches and Candidate Statements

Melissa Perry | Deborah (Debbie) Winn

Melissa Perry, ScD, MHS is Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in School of Public Health and Health Services, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences at The George Washington University, and Adjunct Associate Professor of Occupational Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Background:  Dr. Perry received Master of Health Science and Doctor of Science degrees from Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health. Over the past twenty years she has conducted epidemiology and public health promotion studies targeting a number of health endpoints including occupational injury and disease.  Her lab is currently conducting studies on the genotoxic and hormone disrupting properties of occupational and environmental pesticide exposures and she is collaborating on pesticides studies in India, South Africa, New Zealand, and the Faroe Islands.  She has been a principal investigator on RO1 research grants from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.  She is currently a standing member of the Safety and Occupational Health study section for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. She teaches public health graduate courses at the George Washington University in environmental and occupational epidemiology, sustainability, and climate change.

She has been a member of ACE for over fifteen years; a membership committee member from 2000 to 2010, on the Board of Directors from 2008 to 2011, and is currently serving as the Secretary of ACE. Dr. Perry will be serving as Program Chair of the 2014 ACE Annual meeting in Washington DC

Statement:   The coming few years entail economic flux that will undoubtedly impact the Nation’s health services, research, and policy.  We as epidemiologists can face this time as an opportunity to advance the prominence of our profession as an integral part of improving the public’s health.  As President of ACE:
  • First, I will work to promote ACE’s visibility nationally.  For example, channels of communication with federal agencies can be expanded by ensuring ACE presence at federal health science meetings and via targeted electronic professional networks.  I will also reach out to federal epidemiologists to recruit them as new members to the College as part of more vigorous membership recruitment efforts. 
  • Second, I will work to ensure that ACE is present and visible in health care reform initiatives forthcoming so we can advocate for epidemiologic research as a critical part of the national health and science strategy. 
  • Third, I will continue reaching out to young and aspiring epidemiologists in training, who are in need of professional networking opportunities and quality mentoring.  Our annual meeting is an excellent opportunity to formally connect Associate Members with Members and Fellows and each year I will work with fellow meeting planners to ensure that these are quality opportunities for both trainees and mentors 

    Deborah (Debbie) Winn, Ph.D., is the Deputy Director of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. 

    Background: As Deputy Director, Dr. Winn plays a central role in the planning, priority setting, development, and management of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences’ large, integrated extramural programs in cancer surveillance, epidemiology, behavioral science, health services, implementation science, and cancer survivorship research. Previously, she led the extramural Epidemiology and Genetics Research Program in that Division.  Other leadership roles include serving as Chief of an NIH intramural research branch and as Deputy Director of the Division of Health Interview Statistics at CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.  Dr. Winn received her Ph.D. in epidemiology from the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.  Her research interests have focused on the epidemiology of head and neck cancer and tobacco-related cancers, environmental risk factors for breast cancer, and evaluating the public health and clinical impact of evidence from epidemiologic studies.  Dr. Winn is a Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology (ACE), a former member of the ACE Board of Directors, and currently the Vice Chair of the ACE Publications Committee. 

    Statement: I value ACE because of the collegiality of its members and opportunities to learn from them; the strong focus on career development for more junior epidemiologists; the emphasis on scientific and professional excellence; and the strong interest of the membership in policy applications of epidemiologic work and research. Together with the Board, I would build on several of ACE’s areas of strength if I am elected.
    • ACE could help promote lifelong and continuous learning, by formulating what we most need to learn, what among the vast amounts of new knowledge we need to prioritize learning, and how we can learn those things in ways that are most efficient and effective. 
    • ACE could also be instrumental in helping the field improve the methods we use to conduct research and surveillance to be more accurate, efficient, cost-effective and accountable to the needs and preferences of the participants in our studies and members of our communities.  ACE can help identify needs and opportunities, and monitor and foster new developments in areas. 
    • ACE can help epidemiologists to thrive in the kinds of large team and transdisciplinary settings that are increasingly common.  Working in such environments can be challenging.  The College can help by identifying good models and establishing best practices.
    • ACE has partnered with other epidemiology professional societies in organizing very successful Congress of Epidemiology meetings and on policy statements. Each of the epidemiology societies has important and distinct missions, but could do more together on a host of activities such as fostering continuous learning opportunities.  The College can provide leadership through greater outreach to these societies and promoting continuous dialogue on areas of mutual interest.

    ; Charles A. Oke | Lorna E. Thorpe 

    Chinua Akukwe , MD, MPH, FACE is a Professorial Lecturer in the Department of Global Health and the Department of Preventive and Community Health at the George Washington University (GWU) School of Public Health, Washington, DC.  Professor Akukwe has more than 25 years experience on linkages between valid data and public policy.

    Background:  Dr. Chinua Akukwe received his MD from the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital and an MPH with Distinction from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.  He trained in Community Oriented Primary Care (COPC) at the Hebrew University Hadassah Teaching Hospital COPC Center, Jerusalem, Israel. His work experiences include: Scientific Coordinator, U.S. Congress mandated National Institutes of Health, DC Infant Mortality Initiative, Commission of Public Health, Washington, DC; Former Senior Advisor to Director of Health, Washington, DC, overseeing application of valid data in citywide health policies and programs; Chair, Technical Advisory Board, GWU Africa Center for Health and Human Security, and; Executive Committee Member, GWU Medical Center Faculty Senate. Dr. Akukwe is a Fellow of ACE and a Member of the Minority Affairs Committee (MAC). He is a Member of the Editorial Board, American Journal of Public Health, assuming the Vice Chair position in Fall 2013.  Dr. Akukwe is the author of five books. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, Washington, DC. He served on domestic and international advisory boards, including as Vice Chair of the then largest voluntary global health organization in the world, the National Council for International Health (NCIH), Washington, DC, now known as the Global Health Council. He has done extensive work in international HIV/AIDS, including as Member of the Global Expert Advisory Group on Funding Priorities for UNITAID, the Geneva-based international financing facility with commitments of US$1.5 billion for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria programs in 94 poor countries and as a Member of the HIV/AIDS Global Expert Advisory Committee for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Dr. Akukwe designed two continent wide programs in Africa: (1) Universal Access to HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria Services in 53 African countries and (2) Africa Development Bank Communicable Diseases Guideline that established HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria as priority health conditions.

    Statement:  It is a privilege and honor to be nominated as a candidate for the ACE Board of Directors. As an ACE member for nearly two decades, I can attest to its growing, influential role in academic and practice circles. ACE provides guidance and inspiration to future epidemiologists. Established epidemiologists value ACE honors and opportunities for continuing education.  

    If elected, I would champion the  following issues:  Improving the ACE brand as the scientific leader in the field and attuned to priorities of members;  Regularizing ACE role on major health policy issues; Expanding ACE influence on health policy and public health practices in non-academic settings such as local, county and state health departments, the CDC and industry; Improving relationship between ACE and academic institutions on training epidemiologists better equipped to practice in academic, public sector, non-profit  and industry settings; Supporting continued diversity in ACE and in the epidemiology discipline as restated in the 2010 Strategic Plan, and; Ensuring ACE relevance on broad technical issues such as translational research, genetics and health, social determinants of health and shifting priorities in research funding.

    Ahmed A. Arif, PhD, CPH, FACE is Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in Charlotte, NC. He is also Adjunct Associate Professor in the Division of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences at the University of Texas-Houston, School of Public Health, Houston-TX

    Background: Dr. Arif holds PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Texas, School of Public Health at Houston, and MS in Biological Sciences from Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY. Dr. Arif’s area of research focus is on asthma and occupational asthma. He has received grant funding from NIOSH and NIH. He recently successfully completed an international study on breastfeeding practices and asthma among very low income families. Dr. Arif was member of the publications committee of the American College of Epidemiology from 2003-2010 and its Chair from 2007-2008. As Chair, he was instrumental in starting the online abstracts submission process. Dr. Arif has been member of other professional societies including the American Thoracic Society and the American Public Health Association.

    Statement: I am honored to be nominated as a candidate for a position on the board of directors. I have a strong interest in increasing the College visibility in undergraduate education. The Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is one of the early adopters of undergraduate public health education. The department currently offers CEPH accredited Masters of Science in Public Health and Bachelor of Science in Public Health programs, in addition to a very popular public health minor program. We are in the process of establishing a separate track in undergraduate epidemiology. I have been teaching epidemiology to undergraduate students every semester for the past six years and have found it very rewarding. There is a huge untapped pool of talented and energetic undergraduate students with strong interest in epidemiology who should be encouraged to get involved in the College activities. There is a lot of variability in teaching advance courses in epidemiology. The College can promote best practices in teaching advance level epidemiology by offering short courses online or during annual meetings. Some may consider it controversial, but I think it is worth considering establishing some sort of credentialing exam for teaching epidemiology at the masters and doctoral level.   If I am given the opportunity to serve on the board, I will dedicate my energies promoting ACE goals.

    Victor M. Cardenas, M.D., M.P.H., PH.D, is Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, UAMS College of Public Health.

    Bacckround:  Dr. Cardenas earned degrees in Medicine (National Autonomous University of Mexico), Epidemiology of Communicable Diseases (School of Public Health of Mexico), public health and Epidemiology (Emory, MPH, PhD), and received training in the Mexican Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP). Cardenas has conducted epidemiologic observational and experimental studies of infectious diseases including neonatal tetanus, infant pneumonia, poliomyelitis, measles, tuberculosis, arboviral diseases, H. pylori -related diseases, and is currently working on excessive gestational weight gain, dementia and epilepsy. He practiced epidemiology for seven years in the Division of Epidemiology of Mexico’s Ministry of Health before joining Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health as faculty. He served as resident consultant to the (Colombian) National Institute of Health (1994-1996), contributing to establish the Colombian FETP. He was a faculty in the Division of Epidemiology at the University of Texas HSC at Houston-School of Public Health in its Regional Campus in El Paso, Texas, and served as founding Executive Director of Training in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET), a non-governmental organization that supports FETPs around the world. Cardenas served in the BOD of ACE (2008-2010) working to obtain funding for the 2010 Scientific Session in collaboration with the Minority Affairs Committee.

    Statement: I would be honored to serve again in the BOD of ACE. The College plays a key role in establishing standards of scientific conduct in our field, and provides a very valuable service through the accreditation of professionals in our field. Annals of Epidemiology, the official publication of ACE is a top peer-reviewed scientific publication. ACE’s scientific meetings are important venues for the exchange of scientific ideas, to foster collaborations, and recognize the accomplishments of our peers. If elected, I will work with the BOD and membership to continue the mission, and achieve the goals and programs of the College.

    Charles A. Oke, VMD, MPH, FACE:  is a Senior Medical Epidemiologist in the Office of the Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh, PA. He is a Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology (2006) and chairs the Minority Affairs Committee (2011- present). Served on the Admissions Committee (2008-2011) and was a liason to the Membership Committee. He was a Member of ACE from 1990-1995 and served on the Ethics and Standards of Practice committee. He returned to ACE as a Fellow in 2006.

    Background: Dr. Oke earned his VMD degree from the University of Ibadan, College of Veterinary Medicine in 1979. He studied at the University of Texas, School of Public Health in Houston where he earned his MPH in 1983. He was admitted to the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) 2–year Fellowship in 1987-1989. He has been an administrator, clinical biologist and epidemiologist at the Laboratory, Hospital, County, State, National, International, Corporate and Academia levels. He has earned twice in his career at CDC the Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service for extraordinary teamwork, productivity and scientific excellence. He has also been awarded HHS Certificate of Appreciation for Public Engagement for helping to make the soundest decisions possible about the use of Pandemic Influenza vaccine and for encouraging more dialogue between government and citizens. In 2008, he developed and defended to the National Academy of Sciences – Institute of Medicine, Committee on Personal Protective Equipment (COPPE) the national proposal on “Demonstration and Sentinel PPE Usage Surveillance System in Healthcare Workers in the US”. He was adjunct clinical faculty at University of Texas Medical School in Houston, University of North Texas Medical School in Fort Worth and University of Michigan in Flint. He is a third generation Rotarian (Rotary Club International).

    Statement:  I will be honored and humbled to be nominated for a position on the ACE Board of Directors (BOD). In my view, ACE is the best kept secret from practicing epidemiologists and prospective epidemiologists in the world and even in the United States. It is important to know why this is.. ACE is a great epidemiological organization that advocates for policy, credentialing and supports practicing epidemiologists and prospective epidemiologists. I believe that ACE must sell herself better to all. We need to develop a “ten second” marketing statement for ACE of What, Why, Who, Where and How. An Unequivocal, Short and to the point statement answering the question “Why join ACE?”.  I will like to expand the reach of ACE. Brevity has many advantages. Policy development, Advocacy, Prestige, Mentorship, Fellowship, Power of “n”, Recognition, Career development and enhancement would go a long way. I have a good understanding of why members join, why they leave and why they come back. How? I have been there. I was a Member of ACE from 1990-1995 and served on the Ethics and Standards of Practice committee. I left in1996 and returned to ACE as a Fellow in 2006.

    Lorna E. Thorpe, PhD, MPH, BA,  is Professor of Epidemiology and directs the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program at the newly-established School of Public Health at City University of New York (CUNY SPH).  She is a member and fellow of ACE and currently serves as vice-chair of the ACE Policy Committee.
    Background: Dr Thorpe holds a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, an MPH from University of Michigan, and a BA from Johns Hopkins University.  She also served as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Class 2000).  Before her current academic career, Dr Thorpe spent more than a decade in public health practice, engaging in applied research at the international, national, and local levels.  Immediately prior to joining the faculty at CUNY SPH in 2009, she spent 8 years at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and she served as Deputy Commissioner in charge of Epidemiology for the last 5 of those years.  In her time at the NYC Health Department, Dr Thorpe led a portfolio of innovative scientific studies aimed at understanding the health of NYC residents.  She also oversaw birth and death registration, injury surveillance, public health training/workforce development, and the scientific and operational aspects of the World Trade Center Health Registry, a CDC-funded longitudinal registry of 71,000 participants directly exposed to the attacks of 9/11. Dr Thorpe's current research focus is on chronic disease epidemiology and exploring innovative forms of population health surveillance. Dr Thorpe is the PI of the 2013 New York City Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NYC HANES), which aims to evaluate the population health impact of municipal policies on NYC adult residents.  She is also working on validating the use of electronic health records for population health surveillance. In addition to her administrative duties chairing the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program, Dr Thorpe is actively involved in teaching epidemiology methods courses, as well as mentoring doctoral and master's students. She has received numerous awards for outstanding contributions to public health practice, and she has been appointed to serve on several governmental and professional panels.

    Statement: I am truly honored to be nominated for a position on the Board of Directors of the American College of Epidemiology.  If elected to the Board, I would advocate to build stronger connections between academic research and the needs of public health practice, with  an emphasis on applying cutting-edge scientific methodologies to public health and healthcare policy research priorities. I currently serve as Vice-Chair of the Policy Committee for ACE, thus I am well positioned to bring this vision to the College as a whole.  ACE plays a central role in supporting training efforts of emerging epidemiologists.  Graduate and post-doctoral training must integrate rigorous methodologic training in causal inference – including an awareness of the limitations of observational epidemiology – with practical knowledge and skills that can inform and support current practice needs.  ACE should consider strategies to help academic researchers more directly inform policy and programmatic development.

                                                                           Member Nominees
                                                                       Vote for One (1) of Two

                                                                    Carol Burns | Don Voaklander

    Carol Burns, PhD, MPH, is a senior research epidemiologist at The Dow Chemical Company.

    Background: Dr. Burns received her PhD in epidemiology from the University of Michigan School of Public Health (1994) and her MPH, also in epidemiology, from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (1989).  Her main research focus has been examining health effects from occupational exposures with more than 70 publications.  Most recently she is addressing reducing uncertainty in exposure assessment of workers and pesticide applicators through biomonitoring.  She is a Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology (ACE), was the ACE newsletter editor from 2004 to 2013 and has been a member of the Communications Committee for many years.

    Statement:  I am honored to be nominated for a position on the American College of Epidemiology Board of Directors.  Unlike many other scientific professions, epidemiology is a small and unique discipline.  Let’s face it -- how many times have we explained that we do not study skin?  However, the results of our research are the cornerstone for public health policy, regulation and medical recommendations.  As a group we are diverse in our specialties, interests and employment, yet within the College we are able to work together for a common purpose.  I believe that I bring very relevant experience and perspective to ACE.  During my many years editing the ACE newsletter, I worked closely with fellow ACE members on many topical issues.  My objective as the editor was to permit the contributors to share their views and opinions without interjecting my own.  I believe that the newsletter is a means for the ACE leadership to bring the membership together.  I am encouraged that our website and social media are enhancing our networking.  As a member of the ACE Board, I would like to contribute to the current efforts of the College such as to foster communications within the ACE membership, develop more mentoring opportunities for new members, recognize excellence in our field (and encourage the pursuit of excellence in our research) and develop policies that enhance the practice of epidemiology.  I have a strong interest in the integration of epidemiology with other disciplines such as exposure assessment, industrial hygiene and toxicology.  I believe it is through excellence in research, communications and policy that human health research will contribute to improved population health and that the American College of Epidemiology is well positioned to move the science of epidemiology towards distinction.  If elected to the Board of Directors, I look forward to promoting the discipline of epidemiology and its important place in today’s society.

    Don Voaklander, PhD, MSc,  is a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.  He also directs the Alberta Centre for Injury Control and Research (ACICR).

    Background:  Dr. Voaklander holds a PhD in Physical Education from the University of Alberta, an MSc in Community Health and Epidemiology from Queen’s University and a BPE with distinction from the University of Alberta.  Prior to his appointment at the University of Alberta, Dr. Voaklander directed the British Columbia Rural and Remote Health Institute at the University of Northern British Columbia and was a senior lecturer at Melbourne University.   Before joining the academy Dr. Voaklander worked extensively in the health system with the Workers’ Compensation Board of Alberta and the Capital Regional Health Authority in Edmonton.  Dr. Voaklander’s primary research interest is injury prevention.  He is the author of more than 90 peer-reviewed articles.  Dr. Voaklander reviews for several publications including Injury Prevention, Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine and the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.  He has provided peer-review for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.   Currently, through ACICR, he is leading several initiatives, including:  consensus building among stakeholders providing services to reduce suicide and poisoning, toolkits for municipalities to control alcohol misuse, and a public awareness campaign on injury reduction that includes a consortium of private and public sector partners.  Dr. Voaklander has strong linkages to policy makers in Alberta and believes that public health researchers need to strive to engage policy makers at all levels of government.

    Statement:  I am honoured to be nominated for a position on the Board of Directors of the American College of Epidemiology.   I have been a member of ACE for most of my academic career and have found the annual meetings extremely valuable by providing me with avenues of thought that have been essential for my career development.   I believe my significant experience in linking research and policy would be an asset to the College Board.  Epidemiologists can have a major impact on population health by developing strong partnerships with organizations at many levels including federal, provincial and municipal governments, health providers and non-governmental organizations.   In addition, I am very interested in the development and maintenance of high quality educational programs for students.  There is change coming to higher education over the next decades as public educational institutions strive to remain relevant given the pressures that are coming from funders (both research and education) and a more demanding student consumer.   It is vital that epidemiologists have a say in how public health education is offered and that quality programs are maintained.

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