Epidemiology Counts – Episode 42 – Wildfires

The area of land affected by wildfires has increased annually at a more rapid pace than the actual number of wildfires. With climate change comes an increase in seasonal conditions that support wildfires, such as warmer springs and longer dry seasons. Wildfires have any immediately tangible consequences. Smoke may warrant school closures and warnings to stay indoors for many vulnerable populations, such as individuals with respiratory conditions. Expecting wildfire frequency to continue increasing, it’s important to understand their potential health impacts, and how studying those impacts is fundamentally different from other areas in public health research.

Epidemiology Counts – Episode 41 – Eating Disorders

Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating, are very common and some of the most complicated psychiatric disorders to address. It is estimated that almost 1 in 10 Americans will experience an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime. Girls and women are more likely to experience an eating disorder as are people of color, but people of all genders and races can be affected. There is evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem of eating disorders. In this episode of Epi Counts, hosts Bryan James and Ghassan Hamra speak with Ariel Beccia, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School about the epidemiology of eating disorders and how the COVID pandemic may have impacted the burden, particularly in younger persons.

SER 2023 Live Podcast Recording: Busting Epi Myths

The SER 2023 conference in Portland, Oregon was the site of the first ever live recording of the Epidemiology Counts podcast with an audience! Host Bryan James was joined by the hosts of the SERious Epi podcast, Matt Fox and Hailey Banack to lead a fun discussion on busting epidemiology myths in front of a room of raucous epidemiologists. Six awesome guests joined the panel to bust a myth of their choosing, which ranged from scientific, to historical, to personal: Kerry Keyes, Peter Tennant, Lindsey Russo, Ari Nandi, Marcia Pescador-Jiminez, and Lisa Bodnar. The energy in the room was high for this one, folks! If you are an SER member who is interested in helping out with the Epidemiology Counts podcast, please contact Bryan James at: bryan_james@rush.edu

Epidemiology Counts – Episode 40 – Disasters & Risk Assessment

The recent train derailment in East Palestine (apologies for host Bryan James’ mispronunciation in the Intro), Ohio raised major concerns over the release of harmful chemicals such as vinyl chloride into the environment. The town was evacuated for 5 days until authorities deemed that it was safe to return, though many lingering questions remained as to the safety of the air and water after such a disaster. This train derailment raised questions as to how experts assess the risk to exposed persons after a major disaster—both quickly assessing the immediate threat to residents, as well as observing long term health effects like increased risk for cancer. In this episode of Epi Counts, hosts Bryan James and Ghassan Hamra talk to Keeve Nachman from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, an expert in risk assessment, about how these decisions are made, and whether we really can ever get a yes or no answer to “is it safe now?” after a major disaster.

Epidemiology Counts – Episode 39 – Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

In this episode of Epi Counts, host Bryan James talks to Maria Glymour, the incoming chair of the Department of Epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health, about their shared area of research: the epidemiology of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. In this conversation, they discuss the latest on how scientists are attempting to define Alzheimer’s disease biologically as a distinct concept from the dementia syndrome, as well as the controversies surrounding such a definition. They cover what the evidence says about what we can do to prevent dementia, and what aspects of Alzheimer’s and dementia make these conditions particularly difficult to study. Finally, they address the cautious excitement regarding the recent FDA approval of two new Alzheimer’s drugs that appear to target the underlying disease after decades of failed trials, and the societal, ethical, and financial implications that arise from the introduction of these therapies.

Show notes:
Alzheimer’s Association Facts & Figures report https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/facts-figures

Epidemiology Counts – Episode 38 – Occupational Epidemiology

Occupational Epidemiology is one of the oldest and most salient areas in Epidemiology. People need to work, so understanding the aspects of the work environment that contribute to health is vital to public health. Exposures are often not confined to the workplace, meaning knowledge generated has wider importance. For example, occupational cohort studies of the health effects of asbestos and diesel exhaust have led to determinations of carcinogenicity by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The knowledge generated about asbestos ultimately lead to banning its use broadly.

In this episode, we discuss the field’s history and where it stands with Dr. Ellen Eisen, professor at UC Berkeley, who has spent her career advancing our understanding of the impacts of workplace exposures.

Epidemiology Counts – Episode 37 – Epidemiology vs. Population Health: Two sides of the same coin?

Population Health Sciences and Epidemiology are thought about as different from one another by some, and largely overlapping by others. Depending on who you talk to, either view might spark an argument. In this crossover episode, I get the chance to chat with Aresha Martinez-Cardoso, Darrell Hudson, and Michael Esposito, hosts of the IAPHS podcast. We may or may not actually answer the question: what’s the difference between these two fields anyway?

Epidemiology Counts – Episode 36 – Trans Health

Trans health is a growing area in public health. This is largely due to the growing number of individuals who feel comfortable expressing gender identities that do not confirm to binary male and female categories. The 2015 summary of the US transgender survey reported around 27,000 respondents, over 4 times as many as the previous 2008-2009 survey. Respondents also reported greater acceptance among family, friends, and colleagues, with over 50% of respondents describing them as ‘supportive.’ More notable in the survey was the volume of hardships experienced by transgender community members. Nearly any adverse health outcome or condition is experienced in greater proportion in the transgender community. It is also notable that people of color in the trans community tend have a greater proportion of adverse experiences compared to their white counterparts.

On this episode, we are joined by Dr. Will Beckham, an assistant scientist in the department of health, behaviour, and society here at JHBSPH, to discuss the evolution of research on trans health, where it is, and where it’s going.

Epidemiology Counts – Episode 35 – The Microbiome: our gut, our health

Did you know trillions of microorganisms such as bacteria, virus, and fungi are living inside of your body right now? The microbiome can be described as the community of microbes that reside in a particular part the human body. The past two decades has seen an exponential increase in the number of publications related to the microbiome and how it affects human health. There is growing evidence that the microbiome, in all its complexity, can impact health and disease. Some of the diseases that have been linked to the microbiome may be surprising!

On this episode, we welcome Noel Mueller, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, to give us a primer on the microbiome and how it relates to our health.

Epidemiology Counts – Episode 34 – Omicron & transition to endemic COVID-19

The most recent stage of the COVID-19 pandemic has been defined by the surge of the Omicron variant, a version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that is highly contagious yet seemingly not as likely to result in severe infection. Cases are now declining in most parts of the country—but yet the rate of infection is still as high as it has ever been pre-Omicron [editor’s note: host erroneously left out “pre-Omicron” in Intro to podcast]. So what is next? Is the risk now low enough to relax mask mandates and resume some sense of “normalcy”? Or should we expect more variants to emerge that will cause another surge? Is COVID-19 now endemic, and if so, what does that really mean? In this episode, hosts Bryan James and Ghassan Hamra discuss what we have learned from the Omicron surge and the transition to endemicity with Justin Lessler from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and Cecile Viboud from the Fogarty International Center at the NIH.