To ensure that public health interventions that can save lives and improve overall health actually reach people, epidemiologists must do two things. They must provide clear evidence of the need for such interventions. They must also convince policymakers to then take action on the evidence.

This was the theme addressed at a symposium on “translational epidemiology” on February 20, 2013, hosted by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) Department of Epidemiology.

Speakers included Anna Giuliano, director of the Center for Infection Research in Cancer at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida, who spoke about the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine and the need to offer it to boys as well as girls; and Cesar Victora, emeritus professor of epidemiology, Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil, and president of the International Epidemiological Association, who discussed the importance of providing better nutrition to young children in low- and middle-income countries.

In his opening remarks, HSPH epidemiology professor George Seage said members of HSPH’s Department of Epidemiology are increasingly focusing on translational work, which aims to apply research findings into real-world public health interventions. The challenge in many cases is to determine the most cost-effective approach to scaling up interventions, and how to best design studies to measure the long-term effectiveness of the interventions, Seage said.

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