Spring 2021 Seminars

THURSDAY, JANUARY 28  |  ZOOM 3:30 p.m.

Danielle Gartner, PhD

Research Associate
Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics
Michigan State University

"Equity-oriented epidemiologic studies of women's reproductive health"

As public health researchers and students increasingly seek to address racial disparities in health, application of rigorous and thoughtful methodological approaches to the study of these topics is needed. In this talk, Dr. Gartner will use her research portfolio to demonstrate unique approaches to the study of health equity. She will cover her research evaluating racial disparities in gynecologic and obstetric health service use and assessment of the impact of contemporary and historical reproductive health policies.  



THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11  |  ZOOM 3:30 p.m.

Claire Margerison, PhD

Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

"Health Insurance Policy and Women’s Perinatal Health"

Women in the U.S. experience frequent changes and lapses in insurance prior to, during, and after pregnancy, leading to potential financial insecurity and disruptions in health care, and these ‘insurance discontinuities’ are more common among women identifying as Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous. The Affordable Care Act, specifically expansion of Medicaid, has reduced this perinatal insurance discontinuity. Did Medicaid expansion improve or reduce inequities in women’s health during the perinatal period? Dr. Margerison will present findings demonstrating how Medicaid expansion has—and has not—impacted women’s health during the preconception, perinatal, and postpartum periods. 



Kristen Upson, PhD, MPH

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

“Common factors unique to reproductive-age women that may increase toxic metal body burden”

In this seminar, Dr. Upson will discuss how reproductive-age women may be disproportionately exposed to toxic metals lead and cadmium. She will share new results on the contribution of factors common and unique to women - contraception and menstrual bleeding - on toxic metal body burden. Her research program on toxic metals and women’s health uses data from the Study of Environment, Lifestyle & Fibroids (SELF), an epidemiologic study of reproductive-age African-American women recruited from the Detroit metropolitan area. This research is supported by R00 funding from the National Institute of Nursing Research, NIH.


THURSDAY, MARCH 25 |  ZOOM 3:30 p.m.

Honglei Chen, MD, PhD

Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics


Yaqun Yuan, PhD

Postdoc of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

"Poor olfaction and the health of older adults: neurodegeneration and beyond?"

Poor olfaction is a common yet under-appreciated and under-studied sensory deficit in older adults. The human sense of smell decreases with age. Poor sense of smell affects 15-25% of older adults, and its prevalence increases to over 60% for those 80 years or older. Although most do not even realize they have it, olfactory impairment has been speculated to adversely affect important human functioning such as detecting environmental hazards, nutrition, mood and behavior, and quality of life. More importantly, multiple lines of evidence suggest olfactory impairment is one of the earliest and most important prodromal symptoms for dementia and Parkinson disease. Multiple longitudinal studies also reported a robust and “independent” association of poor olfaction with a higher mortality in older adults. Using data from the Health ABC study, we found poor olfaction was associated with 46% higher risk for death after 10 years of follow-up. Interestingly, neurodegenerative diseases and weight loss combined only explained about 30% of the excess in mortality, suggesting a large portion of the potential adverse health consequences of poor olfaction remained unknown. In this talk, we will present our data on poor olfaction in relation to the risk of pneumonia and physical function decline, in addition to its roles in dementia, PD, and mortality. 

THURSDAY, APRIL 8 | ZOOM 3:30 p.m.

Chenxi Li, PhD

Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

"Set-based genetic association and interaction tests for survival outcomes"

Multi-variant tests with time-to-event outcomes are more powerful than single-variant tests with case-control outcomes to discover genetic associations and interactions on complex diseases. We develop a suite of novel multi-variant association and interaction tests with survival traits based on weighted V statistics, with one of them considering potential genetic heterogeneity. All the new tests can adjust for covariates to reduce confounding and/or improve power and can deal with left truncation and competing risks in the survival data. Simulation studies show that the new tests are faster, more accurate in small samples, and more robust against confounding than the existing multi-variant survival tests, and that when the genetic effect is heterogeneous across individuals/subpopulations, the association test considering genetic heterogeneity is more powerful than the existing tests, which do not account for genetic heterogeneity. We illustrate the utility of the new methods through a genome-wide association study of age to Alzheimer’s disease onset.



MAY 10, 2021

Nigel Paneth, MD, MPH   

University Distinguished Professor
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Michigan State University

“The improbable history of our department - A personal perspective” 

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