Fighting for Health Equity and Social Justice during the COVID-19 pandemic: Insights from the 2021 Epi/Lifestyle Scientific Sessions

This year’s Epi/Lifestyle Scientific Session took place on May 20-21, 2021. Despite the change in venues to virtual mode because of the COVD-19 pandemic, the conference was a success! Many attendees had the opportunity to participate, network, and learn about the latest science on Epidemiology, prevention, lifestyle, and cardiometabolic health. The opening remarks and keynotes centered on two particularly important topics, health equity, and social justice, and the commitment of the American Heart Association to eliminate health disparities in underserved ethnic communities.

Dr. Mitchell S. V. Elkind, MD, MS, FAAN, FAHA, American Heart Association President, opened the conference, highlighting the commitment of the American Heart Association to health equity and structural racism research, driving systemic public health change, while focusing on removing barriers to equitable health for everyone, everywhere. He also provided updates on new scientific research programs to address health inequities and structural racism, and diversity research opportunities for underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.

From a healthcare provider standpoint, many of these programs offer opportunities to bridge the gap in preventive CVD measures in our communities. Other important contributions highlighted at the conference included the COVID-19 Registry, a hospital-based quality improvement program to explore the links between COVID-19, cardiovascular risk factors, and adverse cardiovascular outcomes.

In alignment with the lead topic of the conference, two keynote speakers, Dr. Olajide A Williams and Dr. Laprincess C. Brewer highlighted the effects of structural racism on the social determinants of health, and their relation to health equity and social justice.  Dr. Olajide A. Williams presented on the relationship between structural racism and poor health. He highlighted the importance of social determinants of health and primordial prevention from the perspective previously reported by Dr. Camara Jones.1

Dr. Jones’ “Cliff Analogy” gives a clear picture of the three dimensions of health interventions to help people who are falling off of the cliff of good health: providing health services, addressing the social determinants of health and equity.1 The deliberate movement of the population away from the edge of the cliff represents our efforts to improve on the social determinants of equity through interventions on the structures, policies, practices, norms, and values that differentially distribute resources and risks along the cliff. By doing so, we can improve health outcomes and eliminate health disparities.1   His presentation is also a call to continue efforts to overcome the long-term effects of structural racism and eliminate its associated disparities by organizations outside of government.

Another keynote speaker, Dr. Laprincess C. Brewer discussed the importance of community-based participatory research as a strategy to promote cardiovascular health for all. She highlighted the importance of diversity in clinical trials and research studies as well as the need to build and maintain community partnerships to dismantle structural inequities, racism, and consequently lead to cardiovascular health equity in our communities.  Innovative approaches through community-based participatory research, involving our communities and key stakeholders have the potential to support lifestyle change for cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention, especially in ethnic minority groups, such as African Americans, who carry the largest CVD burden.

Dr. Brewer highlighted the ongoing disparities in CDV mortality for African Americans. Despite improvements in mortality rates over the past decades, CVD remains the leading cause of death for African-Americans. She further messaged the American Heart Association’s Life Simple 7 as important factors to address in the fight against cardiovascular disease in ethnic minorities experiencing greater health disparities. Her presentation also highlighted the importance of community stakeholders, including faith-based organizations and community members in the identification of the research problem, development of research questions, as well as interventions that may be relevant to these groups.2 The various types of programs she discussed, including Mobile Health, emergency preparedness, and COVID testing, through a partnership with a faith-based organizations, served as examples of trusted social networks and established stakeholders that underserved communities may be more likely to reach out for support during health crises. These may further contribute to the delivery of culturally sensitive resources through community partnerships aimed to achieve health equity among ethnic minorities.

As I reflect on the message from the speakers during the opening session, it reminds me of the opportunities available in my community for engagement in the prevention of CVD, especially in underserved minority groups, and the need to reach out to key stakeholders trusted by these underserved groups. It is also a call to engage with these stakeholders in the delivery of interventions aimed at disease prevention, setting up guardrails to prevent them from falling off the cliff of good health.


  1. Jones CP, Jones CY, Perry GS, Barclay G, Jones CA. Addressing the social determinants of children’s health: a cliff analogy. J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2009;20(4 Suppl):1-12. doi:10.1353/hpu.0.0228
  2. Brewer LC, Hayes SN, Caron AR, et al. Promoting cardiovascular health and wellness among African-Americans: Community participatory approach to design an innovative mobile-health intervention. PLoS One. 2019;14(8):e0218724. Published 2019 Aug 20. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0218724

“The views, opinions and positions expressed within this blog are those of the author(s) alone and do not represent those of the American Heart Association. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them. The Early Career Voice blog is not intended to provide medical advice or treatment. Only your healthcare provider can provide that. The American Heart Association recommends that you consult your healthcare provider regarding your personal health matters. If you think you are having a heart attack, stroke or another emergency, please call 911 immediately.”


Engaging in the Conversation of Science: Its Time for You to Take an Active Role

Every day, headlines scream about cures, causes of disease, and questionable scientific advances. While many health reporters work hard to get the science right and translate it into something digestible for the public, they are still subject to pressures that can lead to less than precise articles. And once a scientific paper or abstract finds its way on to social media, the “facts” can be distorted into something barely resembling the original results, leaving scientists and the authors of the paper cringing. Given the speed of information-sharing today and the resulting imprecision, NOW is the time for all scientists (including early career scientists) to actively engage the lay public in the conversation of science through all means possible – even social media.

This was the topic of the early morning, early career presentation Bailey DeBarmore and I gave at the 2019 AHA EPI Lifestyle Scientific Sessions. To be honest, using social media to disseminate my science was definitely not something I learned in graduate school. In fact, my first exposure to blogging was through the TV character Barney Stinson, and for most of the past 15 years, I thought blogging was typically superficial and shameless. However, recently I have seen (and used) its immense power to share my own science. These experiences convinced me that social media may be one of the powerful tools we have to actively engaging and shaping in the conversation of science.

https://unsplash.com/photos/0gkw_9fy0eQWhether or not scientists should blog has been hotly debated. In 2018, Eryn Brown and Chris Woolston published a persuasive article on why science blogging matters in Nature. They list a number of benefits to blogging including furthering one’s career, recruiting more bright minds to science, creating a new community of scientists, and it can further the reach and understanding of science (by both the public and often by the scientist herself). Those are significant reasons to write a science blog. But, if you’re someone like me and didn’t really understand what blogging was, you may be wondering how to start.  There are several ways to get started writing science blogs:

  • Write your own. Brown and Woolston mention a several blogs started by scientists including Small Pond Science. This is a viable option, and there are a number of books and companies ready to help anyone start to blog for a fee. However, it can be a lot of work. Not only will you have to create the content, you will need to create and maintain the website, as well. Depending on your experience with website creation, you may not want this to be your first foray into science blogging.
  • Work with your professional organization. Many professional organizations including the American Heart Association, The American College of Sports Medicine, and the American Society for Nutrition have active blogs. And all blogs need one thing to stay relevant – content. As professional organizations have recognized the power of social media and blogging to advance their noble goals, they have increasingly worked with their members to help develop and promote accurate, timely, and engaging blogs. Some, like the American Heart Association and the American Society for Nutrition, have formal programs that provide both the blogging platform and training to help improve the quality and reach of the blog. (See links above to learn more about these great programs)
  • Collaborate with your journal editors. Increasingly, journals are offering authors the opportunity to create video abstracts, blogs, and podcasts on their accepted manuscripts. While it may seem like one more tedious or abstract thing to do, these can be highly engaging mediums on which to share your work. After all, if you’ve just spent years working on a research study that has somehow been condensed to 8 single-spaced pages, don’t you want that paper to have the maximal amount of impact?

Hopefully by now you’re convinced that that science blogging can be a helpful tool and want to see how you can test it out yourself. But science bloggers are [often] not paid, and if something is going to take away from your teaching, patient care, grant writing and manuscript writing time, then there needs to be a way to derive academic benefit from it. We need metrics – specifically metrics that your promotion and tenure committee can appreciate. So I’ll conclude with a couple of tips for benefiting from blog writing.

  • Put your blogs on your CV. Edge for Scholars has great advice for how to cite a blog post on your CV (note they also publish some great early career academic blogs, as well).
  • Get your analytics (page views, geographic reach of your blog, number of times shared) and use them. You can include your analytics in your CV and also use them to highlight the reach of your science and your national and international impact on your 3- and 5- reviews.


If you like this blog or have any questions, let me know. I’d also love for you to share some of your science blogs with me on twitter at @AllisonWebelPhD and tell me how they helped you better engage in the conversation of science. Happy Writing!




Connecting At Conferences: Networking At Its Best

This March in New Orleans, the Council on Epidemiology and Prevention with the Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health hosted the 2018 EPI Lifestyle Scientific Sessions. A great part of the early career programming this year were the Connection Corners. Small roundtable discussions led by two established investigators drew early career attendees to learn about grant writing, crafting effective elevator speeches, and improving their curriculum vitae (CV). I was lucky enough to listen in (while snapping photos and live tweeting the conversation) and have some highlights to share.

 Drs Brooke Aggarawal and Mercedes Carnethon talk with early career investigators about crafting your elevator speech at AHA Epi Lifestyles 2018 in New Orleans. 
Drs Brooke Aggarawal and Mercedes Carnethon talk with early career investigators about crafting your elevator speech at AHA Epi Lifestyles 2018 in New Orleans. 

Practice your Elevator Speech

Dr. Brooke Aggarawal and Dr. Mercedes Carnethon

An elevator speech is a 30-second “pitch” or summary named for when you find yourself in an elevator with a stranger, and they ask “What do you do?” Of course, you could encounter that question in many scenarios that necessitate an engaging, brief, and understandable response.
Dr. Brooke Aggarawal and Dr. Mercedes Carnethon had a variety of advice on how to develop your pitch, as well as some unique ideas. Dr. Carnethon’s biggest takeaway was to have several elevator speeches – one for each research topic, as well as one for various scenarios.

  • Brainstorm situations you may need an elevator speech
    • Family gatherings and dinners
    • Social gatherings with new friends
    • New colleagues at a conference
    • On an interview
    • In an elevator
  • Outline your research topics – maybe you study cardiovascular disease, but with a focus on sleep, or diabetes, or congenital abnormalities. You probably have a project or two that goes along with each of those topics.

The first step is to write down your speech and then simplify the details into one message per pitch. That means all the details and objectives and methods you might explain to your mentor or at a poster presentation won’t have a place in this elevator speech.

Dr. Brooke Aggarawal had some great advice. Avoid using jargon and be concise while still answering the question “So what?”. And the answer to “So what?” will be different depending on who you’re talking to.

When simplifying your project into a single method, you may try to:

  • Develop analogies that paint a picture for your listener
  • Open and/or close with a question that piques their interest

And lastly, practice practice practice! Especially if you’re preparing for an interview, this answer to “tell us about yourself” should roll of the tongue and demonstrate your passion for your research.

Drs.Christopher Imes and John Wilkins talk to early career investigators about “Boosting Your CV” at AHA Epi Lifestyle 2018 Connection corner.
Drs.Christopher Imes and John Wilkins talk to early career investigators about “Boosting Your CV” at AHA Epi Lifestyle 2018 Connection corner.

Boosting Your CV

Dr. Christopher Imes and Dr. John Wilkins

This Connection Corner was all about how to get your message across quickly and concisely in your curriculum vitae. Just like with resumes, your CV is typically skimmed by the reader, and despite the traditional format, there are some steps you can take to stand out.

Dr. John Wilkins pointed out that you should utilize the librarians – experts in information sciences – at your institution to summarize your “research impact”. They can do searches that summarize your publications, citations, etc. that you can include in a biosketch intro that precedes your CV. Plus, a biosketch is the ultimate way to make sure the first thing the reader sees is the message you want them to!

The laptops came out and Dr. Imes and Dr. Wilkins read and provided feedback on CVs for early investigators at various levels – PhDs, post-docs, and early career professors. The last point they drove home was that while it may seem inconsequential, pristine formatting and grammar is imperative in your final draft. Typos and bad spelling leave a bad impression that can move your CV to the “no” pile before they even finish reading it.

Drs. Norrina Allen and Deepak Gupta field questions at AHA EPI Lifestyle 2018 about grant writing.

Specific Aims

Dr. Norrina Allen and Dr. Deepak Gupta

The group around the table at the grant writing Connection Corner was an accomplished one! With 4 K-awards submitted or about to be between them, they had plenty of questions for Dr. Norrina Allen from Northwestern and Dr. Deepak Gupta from Vanderbilt.

The two main points of the discussion were to craft your career development plan in a way that conveys responsibility, innovation, and prospect to the grant readers, as well as:

Mentoring questions were a big part of this discussion. One person asked, “Should your K-award mentor be someone you’ve worked with before, or someone in the field you’re aiming to get new training in?” Drs. Allen and Gupta answered – definitely someone you have a connection with. They explained that the primary mentor on your K-award is for the career development, while the training goals you set will be met with the network of content and methods experts you put together. Similarly, they noted that the aims for your K grant should match the training domains you want to achieve.

Drs. Allen and Gupta emphasized that for career development grants, it’s important to be specific in your career trajectory section about how that grant is a stepping stone for your future goals. They mentioned being particularly impressed when grant writers state how that K-award (for example) will set them up to submit an R01 on topic “<enter Title>” in year # of their career development award. While you don’t need that R01 grant written up in your head, having an idea of the title and the timeline shows planning and promise.

Lastly, the classic question: How many aims should you have? The answer, like many things, is that it depends. Too many aims, or aims that are too diverse, will water down the focus of your overall proposal. The aims you craft need to be achievable during the time period, concise and straight forward, and should not be interdependent on one another, whether the success of one depends on the success of another.

If you couldn’t be there in person, I hope these pearls of wisdom were the next best thing! What’s on your to do list for career development this month?

Bailey DeBarmore Headshot
Bailey DeBarmore is a cardiovascular epidemiology PhD student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on diabetes, stroke, and heart failure. She tweets @BaileyDeBarmore and blogs at baileydebarmore.com. Find her on LinkedIn and Facebook.



Shift Your Perspective To Get The Most Out Of Mentoring

The AHA Epidemiology and Prevention and Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions is quite different from AHA Scientific Sessions. Smaller in size and more focused, with few concurrent sessions and ample coffee breaks, I enjoyed attending the numerous Early Career sessions. They varied in topic and format: “Connection Corners” were short round-table discussions twice a day with focused conversations on ‘beefing up your CV’, the grant writing process, developing a catchy elevator speech, and leveraging non-NIH funding. Both the EPI-Prevention and Lifestyle councils had lunchtime panels at the end of their annual business lunches, and had the audience asking questions about avoiding burnout in academia and global collaboration in cardiovascular research.

To end the week, the Early Career Council outdid themselves with the early morning ‘fire-side’ chat with Drs. Emelia Benjamin, MD ScM from Boston University School of Medicine, Norrina Allen, PhD from Northwestern Medicine, Jean-Pierre Després, PhD from Laval University in Quebec, Chiadi Ndumele, MD MHS from Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Lenny Lopez, MD MDiv MPH from UC San Francisco.

 Drs. Emelia Benjamin, Jean-Pierre Depres, Chiadi Ndumele, Lenny Lopez, and Norrina Allen (left to right) provide eye-opening mentoring advice to early career investigators at the EPI Lifestyles Scientific Sessions 2018 in New Orleans, LA
Drs. Emelia Benjamin, Jean-Pierre Depres, Chiadi Ndumele, Lenny Lopez, and Norrina Allen (left to right) provide eye-opening mentoring advice to early career investigators at the EPI Lifestyles Scientific Sessions 2018 in New Orleans, LA.

If you missed this morning session, no worries! I have you covered. The panel conversation, led by Dr. Emelia Benjamin, started with finding your niche as an early career investigator, and developed into a great discussion on building a mentoring team and planning your own path.

Using Sli.do to anonymously ask questions allowed for an unbiased view of what the audience was thinking. And overwhelmingly were questions along the lines of:

  • What do you do if your mentor selects a niche for you that doesn’t excite you?
  • How do you separate your niche from your mentor?
  • What can you do to fix a fall-out with your mentor?

I found these questions concerning! To me, they reflect a mentee perspective that 1) once you’re assigned a mentor, you’re stuck with them; 2) your mentor is the be-all-end-all guide in your career path; and 3) you must do everything your mentor tells you.

My first response to this perspective is: we’ve got to shift this mindset! If your relationship with your mentor is that of a duckling and mother goose, something has got to change. A mentor that “assigns” a research niche to you is either a Tormentor or is responding to your lack of initiative. If the former, you should find a new mentor. Your institution will have a number of resources including a faculty affairs office or an ombudsman and possibly a mentoring program that will help you find a mentor that best fits with your needs.

If the latter, you’ve got some work to do! But the career panel provided some great advice on how to get started. (So do Vineet Chopra, MD MSc, Vineet M. Arora, MD MAPP, and Sanjay Saint, MD MPH in an article titled “Will you be my mentor?” published in JAMA last year).

Make the most of your time

Mentors have a number of responsibilities and how they have made their own career path and achieve work life balance is a great indicator if you will be a good fit. Do you aspire to a career like theirs? Do you admire their work-life balance? They might make a great life or career mentor for you.

Just as you expect your mentor to give you their full attention when discussing your goals, you must respect their time as well! That means giving thought to your research goals, planning the steps to get there, and using their expertise and experience to provide direction and improve your process.

Set up a meeting with your mentor and prepare an agenda beforehand. Know the topics you’d like to cover, whether their input on goals and milestones, plans for research projects, or ideas to brainstorm on. Preparing an agenda shows respect for both of your times and keeps you on track for a productive meeting. Jot down action items and follow-up after the meeting.

Judy T. Zerzan, MD MPH and coauthors discuss “managing up” and how to take responsibility for your half of the mentor-mentee relationship in “Making the Most of Mentors: A Guide for Mentees.”

Earlier this year, Dr. David Werho wrote about sponsorship versus mentoring in his 2-part article “When Mentoring Isn’t Enough”. Read Part 1 and Part 2 to learn about why dependability pays off, how to diversify and be the protégé you want, and why it’s worth it to do your homework.’

One is the Loneliest Number

Another solution to mentor woes is creating a mentor network. Over and over, the panel expounded on the advantages of having both a primary mentor and a mentoring group. This structure is explicit in career development grants, where the primary mentor supports your career development initiatives, and the content and methods experts support your training goals. Content and methods mentors in your network can also help you explore different areas in your field as you work to identify your research niche.

A mentor network means different researchers with different backgrounds and different perspectives. Bouncing your research ideas off them results in contrasting views, some that will jive more with you, and some that will make you think. Instead of being molded into a “mini”-me mentee, a mentor network helps you build the scaffolding upon which you’ll grow into your own independent researcher.

I’ll touch more on this idea later, but here’s a great read from Yan Shen, Richard D. Cotton, and Kathy Kram for the MIT Sloan Management Review. Even if you are post-tenure, you still benefit from a strong mentoring network! Read more from Kerry Ann Rockquemore in “Posttenure Mentoring Networks.”

Identifying a Niche

The pre-established theme of the Friday morning early career session was how to “Identify Your Niche”. While much of the discussion centered around mentoring and its supportive role in finding your niche, there was also focused advice on how to find your way.

The panel emphasized that as an early career investigator, it’s imperative to utilize this time to identify and achieve the additional training you see as important to your overall career goals. While this may be in the form of a post-doctoral position or a K-award, it can also be informal in the research projects you pursue and the skills you acquire.

Dr. Emelia Benjamin, who provides mentoring support to early career faculty at Boston University, gave us 2 homework assignments to help us plan our way.

First, reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re going. A 1-page personal statement makes a powerful addition to your CV, and the journey to this final product will help you learn to tell your story as a connected arc, rather than a zig-zag path jumping from topic to topic. The evolution of your research niche from project to project is hardly evident in your publication list, but through narration and self-reflection you can illustrate your approach to the scientific process and summarize where you might go next. Not only will you provide a picture of your research goals and personality to anyone reading your CV, but you will likely have a few “Aha!” moments discovering connections between projects you hadn’t seen before.

Second, diagram your mentoring network. It’s important to visualize this – are all of your mentors above you? Below you? Horizontal to you? Peers? Are they in the same division, institution, or all distance? A mixture is key, but the components of that mixture depends on your research and career goals. Dr. Chiadi Ndumele from Johns Hopkins Medicine shared his take on 5 valuable types of mentors to have:

  1. Methodological mentors are those you go to for questions and feedback about approach.
  2. Content or clinical mentors are those you go to about patient care of content expertise.
  3. Life mentors are those whose work-life balance is one you admire.
  4. Career mentors help you step back and see the big picture, particularly the asks you should say no to.
  5. A brainstorm mentor plays devils advocate and is a great sounding board to bounce ideas off of that also bounces back.

5 Valuable MentorsDr. Emelia Benjamin utilizes the theories from Kathy Kram, Monica Higgins, and David Thomas on “Creating Developmental Networks” and “Reconceptualizing Mentoring” with her early career faculty at BU. Take a cue from her, and use this worksheet, Define your Developmental Network, to identify the gaps in your mentoring network, and take the first step to filling them.

Bailey DeBarmore Headshot
Bailey DeBarmore is a cardiovascular epidemiology PhD student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on diabetes, stroke, and heart failure. She tweets @BaileyDeBarmore and blogs at baileydebarmore.com. Find her on LinkedIn and Facebook.


On My Way To NoLa – AHA EPI | Lifestyle Specialty Conference

The AHA EPI | Lifestyle Specialty Conference will be smaller and more specific than any conference that I have attended. My conference experience has consisted of, for the most part, international meetings that are held in large venues such as Experimental Biology (EB) in the San Diego Conference Center. This center boast 525,701 gross ft2 on the ground level and 90,000 ft2 of column-free space in the Sails Pavilion on Upper Level. EB uses this vast conference space to house over 14,000 researchers, 400 oral sessions that are hosted by 6 societies and 35 guest societies. To attend an event of this size can prove to be too exhaustive to experience everything that is being offered. I have opted to attend the AHA EPI | Lifestyles specialty conference because it is smaller and focused on Health Promotion: Risk Prediction to Risk Prevention.

Since Bailey DeBarmore went into great detail outlining the schedule for the meeting, I will not expound on that any further. Although I have more of a molecular biology/biomedical background that focus on oxidative stress in the microvasculature, I was surprised to see this meeting offered topics that would enhance not only my knowledge of health promotion, but also contribute to my scientific research. The section Hypertension: Guidelines and Prevention, Rapid Fire Oral Presentations consist of several researchers/clinicians that will present their work in 10 minute burst, giving the vibe of “speed dating”. This is an interesting way to present topics, but it is also challenging! From my experience, there is so much to say and so little time to say it. Which, is true. The topics are so specific, one is required to have background knowledge of the topic to understand the speakers’ findings. It is also a good way for the listener to gain a vast amount of information in a short time.

Additionally, I am excited about several of the sessions that will be held at AHA EPI |Lifestyle Specialty Conference. My career trajectory has taken me through proteomics, genomics, and metabolomics as mechanistic tools to elucidate the onset of inflammation, and subsequently, cardiovascular disease. The intersection between theoretical prediction of a disease to the onset of the disease, and ultimately the prevention of the disease by reducing the risk is the obvious pathway of ameliorating chronic diseases. The topic of interest to me, due to the time constraints, are as follows:

  1. Session 2 – Hypertension Guidelines and Prevention. Now that the new guidelines are beginning to be accepted among the clinical/scientific communities, it will be interesting to learn more about the methods being initiated to accomplish these new levels.
  2. Session 5 – Cardiovascular Biomarkers I expect will introduce more detail about the markers clinicians use for early identification of cardiovascular disease and what can be done to truncate its occurrence.
  3. Session 6 – Hot off the Press – there are several new articles that have been released this year. Among them, Schoenthaler et al addressed social needs of hypertensive patients.
             a. For decades there has been arguments as to whether one should have a low fat or low carbohydrate diet to lose a weight. This study by Gardner et al, will add to what we know about the impact diet have on weight loss in overweight adults using genotype patterns and/or insulin secretions as the associated factors.
             b. The study by Powell-Wiley et al, suggest there is a correlation between crime and physical activity and obesity among African American women. Since we know there are many variables that plays a role in obesity and physical activity, I am interested to learn more about their study and what variables were tested to come to the conclusions that they have drawn.
             c. Fuchs et al explored the use of low-dose diuretics to optimize prehypertensive values as a means of lowering blood pressure.
             d. Banck et al discussed racial disparities among young adulthood modifiable risk factors in the incidence of type 2 diabetes during middle adulthood as a modifiable risk factor.
  4. Session 10 – I have learned about 3 of the omics and the more I learn the more that seem to be identified. The Omics section, I will imagine, will cover the well-known, proteomics, genomics and metabolomics; however, some that are exciting, due to them being novel to me, are the Trans-Omics and Phenomics.
  5. Session 11 – The William B. Kannel MD Memorial Lectureship in Preventative Cardiology
  6. Session 12 – The debate will cover some of the Pros and Cons of medical cost. The main argument when it comes to cardiovascular care is the rising cost of medical treatment. This session will cover some of the cost associated with cardiovascular disease treatment, and I hope, some ways that they can be overcome by prevention.
  7. It is my desire, during this AHA EPI | Lifestyles conference to disseminate information that will assist in empowering clinicians, researchers, and the general population of methods that can be taken to promote health and a healthy lifestyle. Hope to see you there in person or online to share thoughts on the lessons learned during this conference.

Anberitha Matthews, PhD is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis TN. She is living a dream by researching vascular injury as it pertains to oxidative stress, volunteers with the Mississippi State University Alumni Association, serves as Chapter President and does consulting work with regard to scientific editing.


AHA EPI | Lifestyle 2018 – Health Promotion: Risk Prediction To Risk Prevention

“Epidemiology is the study of the causes and distributions of diseases in human populations so that we may identify ways to prevent and control disease.”

(JM Last, A Dictionary of Epidemiology)

In a 2013 commentary, Sandro Galea reminds us of the definition of epidemiology [above] and notes that it “neatly communicates 2 central actions for the field:

  1. we identify causes so that
  2. we may intervene….

However, in practice, academic epidemiology now spends most of its time concerned with identifying the causes and distributions of disease in human populations and far less of its time and imagination asking how we might improve population health…”

In a seminal paper in 1985, Geoffrey Rose showed that populations are not the sum of their individuals, highlighting the difference between epidemiology for public health and individual-based medicine. In a recent paper, Dr. Rogawski and coauthors speak to this, pointing out that individual level risk factors identified in population based studies “do not always inform public health interventions since targeting of interventions occurs when individuals present to the healthcare system,” or “medical epidemiology.”

AHA EPI | Lifestyle Scientific Sessions – March 20-23, 2018 (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Later this month, AHA Epidemiology and Lifestyle Councils travel to New Orleans for the annual specialty conference. The theme? Health Promotion: Risk Prediction to Risk Prevention. The 4-day conference will feature 11 sessions, 3 poster sessions, 6 Early Career events, and more. Last year in Portland, Oregon, the conference focused on “Location, Location, Location: Improving Individual and Community Health,” and in 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland “From Precision Medicine to a Culture of Health.” The past 3 years parallel the surge of interest in consequentialist epidemiology, with noted efforts into precision medicine through mHealth interventions as well as theoretical interventions of moving population-wide blood pressure by 1 mmHg.

Drs. Daniel Rodríguez, Wayne Rosamond, and Robert Ross answer questions at Opening Sessions, AHA EPI I Lifestyles 2017 in Portland, Oregon.

Drs. Daniel Rodríguez, Wayne Rosamond, and Robert Ross answer questions at Opening Sessions, AHA EPI I Lifestyles 2017 in Portland, Oregon.

Drs. Darwin Labarthe, David Goff, and Donald Lloyd-Jones catch up before opening session in Portland, OR at AHA EPI | Lifestyle 2017. Make sure to get your Life’s Simple Seven pin at your next AHA conference!

Drs. Darwin Labarthe, David Goff, and Donald Lloyd-Jones catch up before opening session in Portland, OR at AHA EPI | Lifestyle 2017. Make sure to get your Life’s Simple Seven pin at your next AHA conference!
Early Career Events at AHA EPI | Lifestyle

Over this past year, I’ve become more active in the American Heart Association than I have in any other member organization and it’s all due to being an Early Career Blogger. After attending Early Career events at AHA Scientific Sessions in November 2017 – from luncheons to networking to panel sessions – I keep my eyes peeled for similar events at all conferences I attend. The focus for Early Career Events at EPI | Lifestyle this year will be on international collaboration in cardiovascular epidemiology through a “speed dating” format session on Thursday, and a roundtable luncheon on Friday. In addition, the Lifestyle Council will host a 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition at their early career lunch, and early Friday morning is “Lost or Found?  Identifying your Niche in Academic Research.”

Don’t Miss Out!

Between the coffee breaks, be sure to catch these notable epidemiologists and scientists who will be speaking throughout the week in New Orleans. I think their research and background paint the perfect picture for a conference focused on health promotion.

I’ve included their Twitter handle when I can – so be sure to tweet them your questions, and tag #EPILifestyle18 so we can follow, too!

Health Promotion: Risk Prediction to Risk Prediction, Opening Remarks (Session 1)

Alfredo Morabia, MD, PhD, MPH, MSc is a professor of clinical epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. His research spans from history of epidemiology and health ethics to urban health projects, such as health of first responders following 9/11. Tweet him @AlfredoMorabia.

Angela Odoms-Young, PhD is an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a fellow of the Institute of Health Research and Policy, which aims to advance health practice and policy through collaborative research. Her current research projects at the Illinois Prevention Research Center include policy research and evaluation on environmental change related to nutrition and obesity. Tweet her @OdomsYoung.

Mintu Turakhia, MD, MAS, FAHA is an associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Palo Alto VA and Executive Director of Stanford University’s new Center for Digital Health. His research focuses on heart rhythm disorders through outcomes research and clinical practice. Tweet him @LeftBundle.

Hypertension: Guidelines and Prevention, Rapid Fire Oral Presentations (Session 2)

Paul Whelton, MD MSc will recap the new Hypertension Guidelines unveiled at #AHA17 and orient them within the guise of population health and disease prevention.

David Kritchevsky Memorial Lecture (Session 5)

Barry M. Popkin, PhD established the Division of Nutrition Epidemiology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as well as the NIH funded UNC interdisciplinary Obesity Center. He developed the Nutrition Transition theory and studies these dynamic shifts in dietary intake and physical activity around obesity on a national and global scale.

Richard D. Remington Methodology Lecture (Session 9)

Joel Kaufman, MD, MPH is a physician epidemiologist and interim dean at the School of Public Health at the University of Washington. His research focuses on environmental factors in cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and is a PI on MESA Air.

William B. Kannel MD Memorial Lectureship in Preventative Cardiology

Emelia J. Benjamin, MD, ScM, FAHA is a professor at the Boston University School of Medicine and longtime researcher on the Framingham Heart Study. She focuses on the intersection of genetic, epidemiology, and prognosis of cardiovascular conditions and biomarkers, particularly atrial fibrillation. Tweet her @EmeliaBenjamin.

 Bailey DeBarmore Headshot
Bailey DeBarmore is a cardiovascular epidemiology PhD student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on diabetes, stroke, and heart failure. She tweets @BaileyDeBarmore and blogs at baileydebarmore.com. Find her on LinkedIn and Facebook.