NYC Epidemiology Forum Convenes at NYU School of Medicine

Division of Epidemiology plays host to annual gathering of leaders

Friday, March 10 2017

Over 300 people attended the fourth annual New York City Epidemiology Forum (NYCEF), hosted this year by the Division of Epidemiology in the Department of Population Health. The event, which took place at NYU Langone Medical Center on February 17, is co-sponsored annually by epidemiology departments and divisions from 14 area institutions. It provides a regular forum for epidemiologists from across the region to discuss topics and methods in epidemiology, with the overall goal of fostering awareness about research and encouraging collaborations, particularly among junior investigators. Turnout for this year’s event was a record high since the conference’s inception in 2012.

Over 300 people attended the fourth annual New York City Epidemiology Forum

Focusing on a wide range of health risks and diseases, this year’s summit looked at innovative ways in which epidemiologists are identifying etiologic risk factors and addressing the social determinants of health, with many but not all posters and presentations focusing on the health of New York City residents.

“Each year this conference gets better and better – it’s fast becoming a must-attend event for people engaged in applied or academic epidemiologic research in the vicinity”, said NYCEF steering committee chair Lorna Thorpe, PhD, professor, vice chair for strategy and planning, and director of the Division of Epidemiology in the Department Population Health.

Epidemiologist and historian Alfredo Morabia, who is editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Public Health and a professor at both Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and CUNY Queens College kicked off the forum with a keynote called “Epidemiology: Evolving in the Fifth Dimension.”

While the first epidemic started 4,000 years ago, the science of epidemiology is only 350 years old, said Dr. Morabia. It is characterized by its focus on seeing health through groups and populations. Such group comparisons can help predict public health trends, something data on an individual cannot do, Dr. Morabia noted.

The rest of the day was organized into oral and poster sessions. The three oral sessions focused on urban health equity, cardiometabolic conditions and cancer, with researchers from area academic institutions, healthcare systems, and the New York City Department of Health presenting.

Presenter James Williams, a first-year student at NYU School of Medicine, researched the most common social needs of frequent users of the emergency department from a group of residents in two low-income housing buildings in the Lower East Side. Residents had high rates of food insecurity and employment concerns, in addition to high rates of medical and mental health problems, according to Williams.

The research is part of the Health+Housing Project, a community health worker program that aims to provide services to improve the health of residents of two low-income buildings in the Lower East Side. The project is a Department of Population Health and NYU Furman Center initiative in partnership with Henry Street Settlement, and is funded by the Robin Hood Foundation and NYU Langone Medical Center Community Service Plan.

Emily D’Agostino, a graduate student at CUNY School of Public Health examined the correlation between health-related fitness and school attendance in New York City sixth, seventh and eighth graders, which will be the first multi-year study on the relationship between fitness and attendance.

Tsu-Yu Tsao of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene studied the large gaps in life expectancy between New York City residents living only a couple subway stops apart, using micro-level data to get an understanding of the neighborhood-based differences. This detailed data may help city agencies target their resources to the areas where it will have the greatest impact.

The forum also included three poster sessions that demonstrated the breadth of research being conducted by epidemiologists, with topics including injury, the health impact of noise, Zika preparedness, the microbiome, and epigenetics.

Post-doctoral student Fen Wu, PhD, of NYU School of Medicine Department of Health, and Gendrano Isais, a pre-doctoral student at Rutgers University, received the two top poster awards.

Yu Chen, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Population Health’s Division of Epidemiology, chaired the scientific committee that put the day’s programming together. She was assisted by Pasquale Rummo, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Population Health’s Section on Health Choice Policy, and Evaluation, and members from each of the 14 co-sponsoring institutions.

--Lisa Magid and Elaine Meyer