Eco-Epidemiology: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Addressing Public Health Problems
Tuesday, August 6, 2013: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
205AB, Minneapolis Convention Center
R. Jory Brinkerhoff
R. Jory Brinkerhoff
This symposium addresses the theme of the 2013 ESA meeting by highlighting the link between environmental processes and maintenance of human health. Moreover, one of the purposes of this symposium will be to address the history of epidemiology, with its links between environmental variation and patterns of disease emergence, as well to chart a future for the continued development of integrative “eco-epidemiology” whereby ecologists and epidemiologists work closely to address human health problems. Although the links between ecology and epidemiology are clear - both
seek to describe, explain, and quantify spatial and temporal patterns and processes across multiple levels of biological organization – there is relatively little cross-talk between these disciplines. Even though ecologists and epidemiologists address some of the same kinds of questions and use a similar vocabulary, public health and ecological research operate largely in isolation of each other. The purpose of this symposium is to provide a venue to bring together disease ecologists and epidemiologists to share and discuss research approaches and study designs that can be useful across both disciplines. The first speaker will address the “state of the art” of epidemiology and will highlight ecological concepts and methodologies that can be applied directly to problems in public health, making specific reference to environmental niche modeling and disease risk mapping. The second speaker will address approaches common in epidemiology that might be considered in investigations driven by ecologists. This speaker will also discuss misconceptions and preconceptions epidemiologists have of ecological research. The third speaker will explore relationships between human behavior, environmental heterogeneity, and epidemic emergence in a case study that demonstrates integration of ecological and epidemiological methods. The fourth and fifth speakers will discuss socio-ecological approaches used in epidemiology, explicitly addressing human behavioral components of disease transmission, multi-level modeling, and multicausality in epidemiology. The sixth speaker will discuss current trends in disease ecology and will present suggestions for improved interactions between ecologists and public health researchers. Among the objectives of this symposium is to identify areas of overlap between ecology and epidemiology that could be highlighted in undergraduate biology education so that links between ecological processes and human health outcomes are clear. This symposium will conclude with a panel discussion of elements and concepts that can be incorporated into undergraduate science curricula to emphasize the links between ecology and public health so that students following pre-health programs of study would recognize the value of ecological understanding.