March 24, 2020
NYU Washington, DC and the NYU School of Global Public Health co-hosted an informative webinar on COVID-19. The discussion focused on science-based facts about the pandemic and aimed to answer questions about the uncertainties we face as a global community.
This webinar included faculty experts from the NYU School of Global Public Health, including Dr. David Abramson, Ph.D., Clinical Associate Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences; Dr. Jack Caravanos, Ph.D., Clinical Professor of Environmental Public Health Sciences; Dr. Robyn Gershon, Ph.D., Clinical Professor of Epidemiology; and, Dr. Elodie Ghedin, Ph.D., Professor of Epidemiology. They provided guidance on what you can do to help contain the spread of this virus.
This Dialogue was moderated by USA TODAY’s healthcare policy reporter, Jayne O'Donnell.
Dr. Cheryl Healton, Dean of School of Global Public Health, provided welcoming remarks.
This event was free and open to everyone. Registration was required in order to receive log-in information for the webinar. This webinar may have been recorded.
Dr. David Abramson is a Clinical Associate Professor at NYU’s School of Global Public Health and the director of the research program on Population Impact, Recovery and Resilience (PiR2). His research employs a social ecological framework to examine the health consequences of disasters, individual and community resilience, and long-term recovery from acute collective stressors. His work has focused on population health consequences, interactions of complex systems, and risk communication strategies associated with hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the Joplin tornado, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, H1N1, and Zika, among other natural, technological, and man-made disasters. Before joining NYU’s faculty, Dr. Abramson was the Deputy Director at Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness at the Earth Institute.
In 2005 Dr. Abramson launched the Gulf Coast Child and Family Health study, an ongoing longitudinal cohort study of over 1,000 randomly sampled Katrina survivors in Louisiana and Mississippi, which is presently a core research project in the NIH-funded Katrina@10 Program (P01HD082032, NICHD). After Superstorm Sandy he partnered with colleagues at Rutgers University, Columbia University, and the University of Colorado to conduct the Sandy Child and Family Health study, an observational cohort study modeled on the Katrina study. More recently, he was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study the risk salience of an evolving threat, the Zika virus, among the US population in general and among women of child-bearing age. In addition, Dr. Abramson serves on two National Academies of Medicine panels, the Standing Committee on Medical and Public Health Research During Large-Scale Emergency Events, and the Committee on Evidence-Based Practices for Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response.
Prior to entering the field of public health, Dr. Abramson spent a decade as a national magazine journalist, having worked at or written for such publications as Rolling Stone, Esquire, and Outside magazines, and was a nationally-certified paramedic. He has a PhD in sociomedical sciences, with a sub-specialization in political science, and an MPH, both from Columbia University.
For Dr. Jack Caravanos, life in the field ranges from jumping onto a motorcycle and navigating the jungles of Madre de Dios in the Peruvian Amazon studying toxic substances to traveling to remotes areas in Zambia, Indonesia, and Bolivia studying lead and other toxic wastes. By cooperating with local governments, his work provides safe, healthy, and evidence-based solutions for pollution problems in low- and middle-income countries.
In partnership with Pure Earth, an international non-profit organization, Dr. Caravanos is studying the impact of gold extraction with mercury in Peru and Indonesia. Since miners are in danger of mercury poisoning, his research team is planning interventions that teach safer techniques for gold extraction. In Kabwe, Zambia - a mining town with exposure to lead - his research will provide methods to institute safer mining practices and policy recommendations to improve environmental remediation laws.
Dr. Caravanos teaches Environmental Health for graduate students and Environmental Health in a Global World for undergraduate students. He also provides opportunities for student researchers in his ongoing projects, including in Indonesia (mercury) and Ghana (e-waste).
To learn more about Dr. Caravanos and his work, visit his website.
Dr. Gershon is an interdisciplinary occupational and environmental health and safety researcher with extensive experience in the areas of disaster preparedness, healthcare safety, and risk assessment and management in high-risk work occupations. She earned her doctorate in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University, School of Public Health, where she was on faculty for several years.
Subsequently, Dr. Gershon was a Professor at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, with a joint appointment in the School of Nursing.
At the Mailman School, she also served as the Associate Dean for Research and was the Director of the Mentoring Program. Her most recent faculty appointment prior to joining NYU GPH was Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). She was also an Adjunct Professor in the UCSF School of Nursing, as well as at UC Berkeley where she taught public health disaster courses.
Dr. Gershon and her team conducted numerous ground breaking studies to develop and test new metrics of preparedness. Importantly, Dr. Gershon’s work has influenced the adoption of safe work practices and regulatory control measures, such as national needlestick prevention guidelines and high-rise building fire safety laws. Her numerous research studies encompass a wide range of topics, including, (to name a few): bloodborne pathogen exposure; hospital safety climate; psychosocial work stress in law enforcement; “ability and willingness” of essential workforce employees to report to duty during natural and man-made disasters; preparedness of responders for terrorist incidents; emergency high–rise building evacuation- (including the World Trade Center Evacuation Study); emergency preparedness of the elderly and disabled; mass fatality management infrastructure in the US; adherence to emergency public health measures among the general public; hearing loss risk in subway ridership; and noise exposure in urban populations.
Dr. Gershon recently completed a four-year, longitudinal intervention NIH-funded study on motivation and persistence in pursuing STEM research careers among underrepresented doctoral students. (the BRIDGE Project).
As a committed advocate for junior faculty and graduate students, Dr. Gershon will play an active role in research mentorship and advisement.
A molecular parasitologist and virologist, Dr. Elodie Ghedin uses genomics tools to explore host-pathogen interactions in filarial worms (which cause River Blindness and Lymphatic Filariasis) and in viral infections. Her laboratory also explores influenza virus diversity in the infected host and the respiratory tract microbiome to understand transmission dynamics.
Dr. Ghedin’s omics-based predictive modeling project aims to predict severe disease outcome of influenza to develop point of care testing, as some people are more prone to severe versus mild influenza infections. Additionally, her Zika research will be used to develop predictive models for Zika disease severity.
In the Ghedin Lab, Dr. Ghedin offers students an opportunity to study genomic characteristics of human parasites and other pathogens. The research is multidisciplinary and draws upon the tools of genomics, molecular virology, and computational biology. Some projects include the study of influenza virus evolution and emergence, the analysis of the microbiome and mycobiome (fungal microbiota) associated with the pathogenesis of lung obstruction and emphysema in HIV patients, and the characterization of endosymbiotic interactions between filarial worms and Wolbachia. Additionally, Dr. Ghedin also collaborates on the GoViral Project.
As biology and diseases are all interrelated, in her Essentials of Public Health Biology class, Dr. Ghedin teaches the importance of having a foundation in human biology in order to work in any area of public health.
Jayne O'Donnell is USA TODAY’s healthcare policy reporter. She is also co-founder of the new Urban Health Media Project, which trains high school students in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore to report on health and social issues. An author, TV contributor and freelance writer, Jayne has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, CNN, MSNBC, NPR and C-Span and been published in Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping and Parents. She has also won several awards for her work, most notably for her 1996 articles in USA TODAY on the dangers air bags posed to children. That reporting prompted many government actions including the “smart" air bags and warning labels in every new vehicle.
Dr. Cheryl Healton is responsible for building the School of Global Public Health’s academic, service, and research programs, which focus on domestic and international health with an emphasis on prevention, systems intervention, and innovation in public health practice.
Previously, as the founding President and CEO of Legacy – a leading organization dedicated to tobacco control – Dr. Healton worked to further the foundation’s mission: to build a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. During her time with Legacy, she guided the national youth tobacco prevention counter-marketing campaign, truth®, which has been credited with reducing youth smoking prevalence to near record lows. Legacy launched a national smoking cessation campaign, public education campaigns, technical assistance, and a broad program of grant making. Additionally, Legacy established the Steven A. Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Studies.
Prior to Legacy, Dr. Healton held numerous roles at Columbia University, worked to expand the scope of public health programs, and undertook innovative educational initiatives to advance public health practice.
Through her research, she has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers and special reports on public health related topics including HIV/AIDS, public health education, health policy, substance abuse, and tobacco. She was the founding chair of the Public Health Practice Council of the Association of Schools of Public Health and is an active member of the public health community, serving on the National Board of Public Health Examiners, the Betty Ford Institute, and Lung Cancer Alliance. She also serves on the Board of Directors at the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, and the Board of Directors at HealthRight International.
Dr. Healton has given presentations around the world and is a frequent commentator on national and local broadcasts and print news coverage of tobacco control issues.
This Dialogue originated from an event proposal by DC Dialogues Operations Manager, Coco Hua.
DC Dialogues is a student-engaged initiative created to introduce the NYU DC community to key discussions on politics, culture, business, environment, education – and more. Through active participation from the student body, DC Dialogues convenes prominent experts of various perspectives to discuss matters most captivating to students for public events and workshops.