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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UNC: Faculty Member Urges Academics to Prepare for Future of Epidemiology

The field of epidemiology is experiencing a period of critical progress and new challenges. Recognizing evolving trends, Dr. Andrew Olshan, a professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Public Health, is leading epidemiological thought leaders in an important examination of the field’s future.

Dr. Olshan, the Barbara Sorenson Hulka Distinguished Professor in Cancer Epidemiology, is editor of a 13-paper series – “Society for Epidemiologic Research: Reflections On The Future Of Epidemiology” ­­– published by the American Journal of Epidemiology. The series was inspired by Dr. Olshan’s year as president of the Society for Epidemiologic Research.

“Our leadership team met to come up with initiatives for the coming year,” says Dr. Olshan. “One of my ideas was to pause and reflect upon the future of our discipline and engage members of the society to focus on the current state of epidemiology in both big picture ways and on specific issues.”

As Dr. Olshan assembled leading epidemiologists to contribute to the journal, he focused on the role of epidemiology in public health, methods and technology, epidemiology, big data, training and education, the profession itself, and the role of epidemiology in infectious diseases and climate change — all issues that Dr. Olshan says are critical to emerging challenges in global health.

Dr. Olshan is lead author of the issue’s first paper, “Epidemiology, Back to the Future,” in which he explains that the role of epidemiology in public health has been an evolving conversation for decades. He cites publications from the 1990s — when the Society for Epidemiological Research was celebrating its 25th anniversary — that were already calling for greater momentum as the field entered a new era.

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