SPH Symposium

charles-zhouThe School of Public Health held its 2014 Symposium last Monday (October 6). Held since 1998 and every other year since 2002, this year’s symposium addressed the challenge of chronic diseases from the viewpoint of experts from across SPH and across the country.

The 2014 SPH Symposium was held in honor of Noreen Clark, a professor and former Dean of SPH who sadly passed away last year. In addition to being a professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, Dr. Clark founded the Center for Managing Chronic Diseases, pushed for the establishment of a regular SPH Symposium, and was a well-respected leader in her field. Current Dean Martin Philbert described her as a Jedi—as she was able to do so much and touch so many lives. After hearing all of the stories about her, I was saddened by the fact that I had never met Dr. Clark.

The symposium began like every SPH event begins: with healthy snacks, fruit, coffee, and tea for breakfast, and with introductory remarks from Prof. John Piette, who is currently the director of the Center for Managing Chronic Diseases and helped organize the whole event, as well as Dean Philbert, who butchered my last name (it’s okay, everyone else does and I forgive you). Dean Philbert also gave a very touching tribute to Dr. Clark, speaking of her as his (and many others’) caring mentor.

We then had keynote speeches from Dr. Anand Parekh, a Michigan alumnus and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health at the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as Dr. Ed Fisher, director of Peers for Progress and professor of health behavior at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health.

ed fisher symposium

Dr. Fisher speaking about how social interactions can greatly aid management of chronic diseases.

Next up was a panel on scaling up and implementing programs to help manage chronic diseases, speaking about various programs and how they were developed and put into place.

Left to right: moderator John Piette and panelists Paula Lantz, Vic Strecher, and Marianne Udow-Phillips.

Left to right: moderator John Piette and panelists Paula Lantz, Vic Strecher, and Marianne Udow-Phillips speak during the morning session.

Unfortunately, I had to leave early and miss Dr. Strecher’s talk to prepare for the luncheon panel that I had the privilege to moderate, one of five panels open to students only. Entitled “Environments That Won’t Break Your Heart”, the focus of my panel was environmental health and more specifically, the effects of fine particulate matter on the cardiovascular system.

luncheon panel room

The calm before the storm. Nearly 80 students packed the room a few minutes later.

My panelists were Dr. Robert Brook, a cardiologist and professor at the University of Michigan Medical School, Dr. Alan Vette of the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Dr. Tim Dvonch (stepping in for Dr. Amy Schulz who had a last minute commitment come up), a professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences. Together, the three gave an excellent overview of research, policy, regulations, and community impacts with respect to the relationship between particulate matter and heart health.

Update, 10/20/14: You can watch the morning session of the Symposium here.

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