30 September 2013

2013 ISDS Conference Highlight: Submitted Abstracts

ISDS would like to thank all those who answered the call to be a part of the exciting 2013 ISDS Conference program by submitting an abstract for presentation at the upcoming Conference.

2013 Abstract Submission Overview
Abstracts were submitted in four different categories: analytical methods (49 submissions), informatics (53 submissions), policy (15 submissions), and practice (98 submissions). The figure below highlights the keywords of abstracts submitted within each of these categories.

As expected most authors opted to submit for oral presentation (141 abstracts), with 58 submitting for poster, 4 for panel, and 8 for roundtable presentation. New this year, the 2013 ISDS Scientific Program Committee also accepted an additional submission type: lightning talks! These presentation options provide even more opportunity for the community to develop an engaging and relevant program.

Authors from 36 different countries submitted, which is an ISDS record (see map below).
Abstract Review
We are now into the abstract review period. During this time, each abstract will be rated by at least three volunteer reviewers – an exceptional group of experts and seasoned ISDS Conference presenters. Acceptance decisions will be based on judgments of relevance, originality, methodology, and quality. Notifications will be sent to contact authors by October 4, 2013.

To find out more about the 2013 ISDS Conference, please visit: http://www.syndromic.org/annual-conference/2013-isds-conference.

Tera Reynolds, MPH, Program Manager, ISDS

20 September 2013

Save the Date for AMIA's 2013 PHI Working Group PreSymposium!

AMIA's Public Health Informatics (PHI) Working Group is hosting a day-long event focused on "Current and Emerging Issues for Population Health Informatics in Healthcare and Public Health" on Saturday, November 16, 2013 from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Washington Hilton, Washington D.C.

Keynote Debate: Public health informatics and population health informatics are one and the same, or not?
by Dr. John W. Loonsk, CGI Federal, and Dr. Jonathan P. Weiner, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

Last year's PHI PreSymposium had record-setting interest and attendance, with profressionals from healthcare, public health, academia and government sharing ideas and addressing challenges. The 2013 workshop will take the discussion to the next level with a roster of experts from around the nation.

For details and registration information, visit (see WGo2) http://www.amia.org/amia2013/tutorials.

For questions, please contact:

Hadi Kharrazi, MHI MD PhD (Co-chair)
Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Center for Population Health IT
443.287.8264 / hkharrazi@jhsph.edu

Ashish Joshi, PhD MD MPH (Co-chair)
Center for Global Health and Development
University of Nebraska Medical Center
College of Public Health
402.559.2327 / ashish.joshi@unmc.edu

If you know anyone who may be interested, please feel free to share the information!

13 September 2013

Career Opportunity at the U.S. EPA!

Position: Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Division Director
Organization: US Environmental Protection Agency
Location: Arlington, VA

EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD) National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) is seeking an internationally recognized scientific leader to fill its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Division Director position.  The IRIS Division Director is responsible for the scientific leadership of the IRIS program and will have substantial hands-on involvement and participation in the scientific assessments and research of the staff. The Director will:
  • Lead the EPA in managing the IRIS program
  • Engage high level decision makers and scientists on human health risk assessments
  • Protect human health and the environment for future generations
Find out more about the position at http://www.epa.gov/ord/htm/jobs_ord.htm.

To apply, send the following information by October 15, 2013:

  • Cover letter (1-2 pages), describing your experience in leading a research program and how your experience relates to the duties of this position
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Names and contact information of three references
  • Citizenship status
  • Compensation requirements 
  • How you heard about this vacancy
Please cite the announcement number RTP-ORD-42-2013-0004 in your application.

Applications should be sent via email to title42@epa.gov or mailed to the attention of Ms. Dorothy Carr, U.S. EPA, HRMD, MD-C639-02, RTP, NC 27711. Electronic submission of application materials is strongly encouraged.  Applications sent via email must be submitted in MS Word, portable document format (PDF), rich text format (RTF), or plain text.  Use of other formats may invalidate your application.

For additional information, Ms. Carr also can be reached at (800) 433-9633.  Technical questions pertaining to this vacancy may be addressed to John Vandenberg at (919) 541-4527.

The U.S. EPA is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

11 September 2013

Have an idea that could overcome a global health challenge? Send a proposal to The Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative!

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and its funding partners in the Grand Challenges family of grant programs invite you to apply for four new grant opportunities:

1) Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative to encourage innovative and unconventional global health and development solutions, is now accepting grant proposals for its latest application round. Applicants can be at any experience level; in any discipline; and from any organization, including colleges and universities, government laboratories, research institutions, non-profit organizations and for-profit companies.

Proposals are being accepted online until November 12, 2013 on the following topics:

  • Innovations in Feedback & Accountability Systems for Agricultural Development
  • Inciting Healthy Behaviors: nudge, leapfrog, disrupt, reach
  • Novel Enabling Tools and Models Supporting the Development of Interventions for Severe Diarrhea and Enteric Dysfunction
  • Develop the Next Generation of Condom
  • The "One Health" Concept: Bringing Together Human and Animal Health

Initial grants will be US $100,000 each, and projects showing promise will have the opportunity to receive additional funding of up to US $1 million. Full descriptions of the new topics and application instructions are available at: www.grandchallenges.org/explorations.

2) Achieving Healthy Growth through Agriculture and Nutrition, the first program launched through the Grand Challenges India partnership, is now accepting applications. This program joins others within the Grand Challenges family of grant programs supported by the Gates Foundation and its partners. It seeks a comprehensive set of approaches - spanning innovation in  nutrition and agriculture and social innovation - to 1) reduce the high incidence of low birth weight, early stunting, and wasting in Indian children less than 2 years of age and 2) prevent undernutrition in women of reproductive age and in children from 0-2 years of age.

The application deadline is October 31, 2013. Details on how to apply for a grant can be found at http://www.grandchallenges.org/GrantOpportunities/Pages/GCIndia_healthygrowth.aspx.

3) Records for Life: A Design Contest that can Save Lives. This new grant opportunity seeks individuals or teams to re-examine the current child health record and design new ways to accurately track vaccine doses, increase ease of interpretation and use, and incite behavior change to make the record a valued asset for health professionals and families alike.

The application deadline is October 31, 2013. Details on how to apply for a grant can be found at http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/General-Information/Grant-Opportunities/Records-for-Life-RFP.

4) This October researchers are invited to attend Advancing Vaccines in the Genomic Era, a meeting held as part of the Keystone Symposia Global Health Series supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The meeting will be held October 31 - November 4, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. More information can be found at http://www.keystonesymposia.org/13T1.

The Grand Challenges team looks forward to receiving innovative ideas from around the world and from all disciplines, so if you have a great idea, please apply. And if you know someone else who may have a great idea, share the message!

Thank you for your commitment to solving the world's greatest health and development challenges.

~The Grand Challenges Team

09 September 2013

Short Course by the Public Health Informatics Institute's Informatics Academy - Register Now!

Back by popular demand, the Public Health Informatics Institute will be offering its popular online short course Designing and Managing Public Health Information Systems: 8 Steps to Success again this fall.

This is an 8-week instructor-supported, distance learning course. It is designed to equip public health practitioners to communicate their information system needs more effectively and participate more fully in information technology projects that support their work. Weekly webinars with the instructors provide participants with the unique opportunity to share experiences and learn best practices from peers.

The course starts the week of October 14th. Course enrollment is limited and registration ends Friday October 4th, so register here now! For more details, check out the course overview and FAQs, or email informatics.academy@phii.org.

06 September 2013

*NEW* ONC Training Course on Interoperability & Public Health

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) recently announced a new 6-part training course on Interoperability and Public Health. 

The course contains lessons on the following topics:

  • Introduction to Interoperability and Public Health
  • Ongoing Submission to Public Health Agencies
  • Submission of Electronic Data to Immunization Registries
  • Submission of Syndromic Surveillance Data to Public Health Agencies
  • Submission of Electronic Lab Results to Public Health Agencies
  • Submission of Electronic Cancer to Public Health Agencies

For more information visit the course website.

04 September 2013

ISDS Works to Improve Inter-Jurisdictional Data Sharing

Sharing public health data and practices among public health authorities enhances local and regional situational awareness and epidemiological capacities. Although technology is a critical medium for data sharing, positive working relationships and trust must come first.
To promote inter-jurisdictional syndromic surveillance data sharing and facilitate skill development among practitioners, a *Regional Data Sharing Workshop* was developed and piloted by ISDS. A non-formal education approach, which stresses self-directed learning and peer-to-peer problem solving, was used to design and plan Workshop activities. The effect of the Workshop on data sharing and participant skills was assessed using quantitative and qualitative methods.
Thirteen surveillance professionals from seven state and local public health agencies, mainly from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) Region 5, planned and participated in the 2-day Workshop. The participants selected data sharing for heat-related illness surveillance using BioSense 2.0 as a use case to focus Workshop activities and discussions.
Assessment findings indicated that Workshop participation increased syndromic surveillance data sharing among Region 5 jurisdictions and, furthermore, built new knowledge and skills that advanced surveillance competencies and performance. Survey data showed that 13 new data sharing partnerships are underway or planned as a result of the Workshop. Comparisons of participant responses on a syndromic surveillance skills inventory before and after workshop participation indicated positive gains in skills for:
  • Data processing;
  • Data analysis and interpretation;
  • Communicating syndromic surveillance information;
  • Data quality assurance; and
  • Establishing data sharing partnerships.

The Regional Data Sharing Workshop is an effective and efficient means for promoting syndromic surveillance data sharing and skill development. With the opportunity to collaborate and discuss data sharing in-person for a specific, regionally relevant purpose, participants strengthened inter-jurisdictional relationships, leading to more data sharing and improved skills that benefit syndromic surveillance work. These results present a strong case for repeating similar workshops in other HHS regions in order to build regional data sharing and to improve public health practice nationwide.

03 September 2013

Call for Nominations: Rick Heffernan Award for Public Health Practice

Nomination Deadline: September 16, 2013

The Award
The Award Committee is soliciting nominations for the Rick Heffernan Award for "sustained and outstanding contributions to the knowledge and practice of biosurveillance." This annual award was established to honor Rick Heffernan, an early leader in the field of biosurveillance, and founding member and constant supporter of ISDS, who passed away in February 2013.

Rick was committed to his career as a dedicated public servant in the field of epidemiology. He was a strong, gentle, and exemplary leader who will be remembered as a trusted friend, a deeply valued colleague, and one who was always calm in a crisis. He graduated in 1992 from Columbia University, School of Public Health/School of International Affairs in New York, NY with a Master of Public Health and a Master of International Affairs. From 1992 to 1996 he worked for the New York City Department of Health, first as a Public Health Epidemiologist conducting HIV research and then as Assistant Director of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases. He set up the first Health Alert system to enable the NYC Department of Health to provide timely information to city healthcare providers on breaking public health emergencies. From 1996 to 2001 he was a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, completing all coursework and conducting research on drug resistant infections. During this time he spent a year studying the Ebola virus antibody in northeastern Gabon. In the wake of 9/11, Rick rejoined the NYC Department of Health and was critical to the Department's response to the World Trade Center and anthrax letter terrorist attacks. One of his major accomplishments was establishing one of the first electronic emergency department syndromic surveillance systems in the country. He also led the effort to develop the Communicable Disease Surveillance System, improving the city's capacity to track over 70 infectious diseases. After moving to Madison, WI in 2007 with his family, he continued his work helping to detect, prevent and manage threats to public health, taking the position of Chief Research Scientist Supervisor for the Wisconsin Division of Public Health, Communicable Disease Epidemiology Section. He was an author of numerous scientific journal articles, a board member of the International Society of Disease Surveillance, taught workshops on syndromic surveillance for the annual ISDS conference, and gave numerous presentations in his field of expertise. Since 2007 he served as Associate Faculty at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health, and previously served as Adjunct Lecturer for graduate-level courses at Yale University, Division of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases and at City University of New York, Hunter School of Health Sciences. Rick was also a talented musician and athlete. He was profoundly loved by many, who will miss his warmth and gentleness, his delightful sense of humor, and his big smile.

The award for 2013 will be presented at the ISDS Conference in New Orleans, December 11-13th, 2013.

Any current or former ISDS member may be nominated by a colleague (no self-nominations please). Nominations should be prepared containing the following:

  1. A cover letter from the primary nominator up to one page in length, that describes the major contributions of the nominee to the practice of biosurveillance and her/his impact on the field.
  2. A brief curriculum vitae or biographical sketch of the nominee (up to three pages).
  3. Optional: Up to two letters, of a maximum of two pages in length each, supporting the nomination, from others familiar with the contributions of the nominee. The support letters should describe in specific terms how the nominee has made sustained and outstanding contributions to the knowledge and practice of biosurveillance.
Nominations should be submitted through this online form. The deadline for submitting nominations for the 2013 Rick Heffernan Award is September 16, 2013.

If you have any questions or concerns, please e-mail syndromic@syndromic.org.

Learn more about the 2013 ISDS Conference.