Seminar to Explore “Public's Love/Hate Relationship with Epidemiology”

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The UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences will host “The Public’s Love/Hate Relationship with Epidemiology: The Burden of Being Relevant,” a seminar presented by Brown University faculty member David A. Savitz from 2 to 4 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 22, in the Old Chapel Great Hall. The event is free and open to the public; a reception will follow.

Savitz will discuss the linkage between academic research in public health and its policy applications. Informing individual decisions and public health policy with evidence is vital, yet there are pitfalls in having this close connection, both for the objectivity of the researchers and for the practitioners who use the information. In this talk, Savitz will consider this connection of epidemiology and public health in some detail and offer recommendations on how to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks. A case study involving environmental contaminants at a military base in North Carolina, Camp Lejeune, will illustrate specific research and policy issues that arose in chairing a National Academy of Medicine Committee convened to advise the military on how to effectively and responsibly bring this longstanding controversy to a close. Savitz will conclude with some generalizable lessons on how epidemiologists should and should not address complex, contentious public health challenges.

David A. Savitz is professor of epidemiology and associate dean for research in the Brown University School of Public Health, with joint appointments in obstetrics and gynecology and pediatrics in the Alpert Medical School. His epidemiological research has addressed environmental hazards in the workplace and community, reproductive health outcomes and environmental influences on cancer. He has done extensive work on health effects of nonionizing radiation, pesticides, drinking water treatment by-products, and per fluorinated compounds. He came to Brown in 2010 from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he had served the Charles W. Bluhdorn Professor of Community and Preventative Medicine and Director of Disease Prevention and Public Health Institute.