The best part of being dean is interacting with our students, staff, faculty and donors. As a researcher, I love hearing what our faculty are studying. I usually come away impressed, sometimes surprised, but always grateful.
Yesterday, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, Harsha Thirumurthy, PhD told us about his research to examine the impact of AIDS treatment on economic well-being in Kenya. By partnering with an AIDS treatment provider with an electronic medical record, he was able to track CD4 counts in relation to employment status. As counts improved, there was a rapid increase in employment as people went back to the fields to work. This was a very cool demonstration of the interconnection between health and economic well-being. Harsha was off to the AIDS conference in Mexico to present his findings.
Associate Professor, Department of Maternal and Child Health, Carolyn Halpern, PhD talked about her use of a terrific longitudinal study of adolescents, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), to examine adolescent sexual practices. They found that 90% of the sample had had sex before marriage. I hope the next administration pays attention to these data in crafting its policies. It’s time we realize that we’d better start preparing teens to protect themselves.
Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Kari North, PhD and her colleagues are beginning to uncover exciting leads into genetic factors that may increase propensity for obesity. Since 2/3 of us now are overweight or obese, uncovering genetic markers that could help identify people who’d benefit from special attention in preventing weight gain or facilitating weight loss could be important. We’re going to have to think about how to redesign our lives to get more exercise. We’ve done so much to engineer exercise out of our lives, and now we need to re-engineer our communities, work spaces and schedules. If people in the School of Public Health have any suggestions about how to help our School become more exercise-friendly please let me know. I hope one day we can find a donor to outfit a state-of-the-art exercise room.
Finally, but not least, Professor Haibo Zhou, PhD, Department of Biostatistics, gave an overview of his biostatistical research. I really liked his focus on developing statistical methodology in the context of solving real world problems, often clinical. Much of Haibou’s focus is on environmental health concerns, and he collaborates with people in the School of Medicine, National Institute of Environmental Health Services and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Another fascinating day in the SPH, with dedicated faculty who really want to make a difference. For me, it was a happy Monday.
Wishing you a good week. Stay cool! Barbara.