The SPHHS Insider - June 2016

Reich and team develop new data analytics for predicting dengue fever epidemics

Techniques for predicting outbreaks have not adequately addressed public health officials’ need for real-time information, says Assistant Professor of Biostatistics Nicholas Reich and co-authors of a new case study of dengue fever in Thailand. In the current issue of PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, they describe a unique collaboration between public health officials in Thailand and a U.S.-based research team that focuses on merging real-time data management with advanced analytics. They developed a model that improves several key practical features of prediction techniques, offering strategies that account for reporting delays in data and comparing model-based predictions to simple predictions such as a seasonal average.

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DiFulvio leads UMass Amherst researchers in youth suicide prevention project

Researchers led by Senior Lecturer of Community Health Education Gloria DiFulvio are collaborating with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) on a five-year, more than $400,000 grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), part of a long-term effort to reduce suicide among young people ages 10-24 in the state. With this award, the Massachusetts DPH is supporting system-wide changes in two regional hospital systems, Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield and Heyward Hospital in Gardner, to improve early identification, quality and continuity of care for youth at risk of suicide.

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NIH awards doctoral candidate Mary Díaz Santana grant recognizing diversity in health-related research

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently awarded Mary Díaz Santana, a doctoral candidate in the Epidemiology program, a two-year, $73,688 award under the Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research Program. The award will fund Díaz Santana's research on the impact of phthalate metabolites on weight change, fat mass change and obesity. Phthalates are a type of chemical found in such products as cosmetics, shampoo, flooring and medical tubing. This research is part of a larger NIH grant titled “Phthalate Metabolites and Breast Cancer Risk in the Women's Health Initiative” being conducted by Katherine Reeves, Associate Professor of Epidemiology.

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Alumni Profile: Mary DiGioia '15, Nutrition

Mary DiGioia ’15 earned her B.S. in Nutrition. She currently works as a Nutrition Coordinator at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Nutrition graduate student Eliza Mellion, MS '16, sat down with Mary to discover what made her such a successful candidate, and got her perspective on options and careers paths for non-RD’s in Nutrition.

Why did you major in Nutrition, and what did you like most about?

I started off at UMass as a double major in French and Anthropology. Although I enjoy anthropology still, I have always had a passion for food and cooking. When I was young my mother always told me I should go to culinary school, and I never listened. I worked full time in kitchens to help put myself through school, spent a lot of time in my garden during the summer, and finally realized that food and cooking has always been a constant for me.

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June 2016

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