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Georgia Southern Public Health Professor Wins Prestigious National Award

Julie Reagan, Ph.D., J.D., M.P.H., assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Community Health at Georgia Southern University, was recently honored with the prestigious Jennifer Robbins Award for Practice of Public Health Law at the American Public Health Association national meeting.

“Receiving this award is a tremendous honor,” said Reagan. “It is extraordinary to receive an accolade from an organization that I admire so much. Through mentoring and guidance from fellow colleagues at the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, I feel I have grown immensely as a teacher and scholar. This award, however, not only recognizes my academic accomplishments but also takes into consideration my previous career as a public health attorney. I am humbled and very grateful.”

The Jennifer Robbins award recognizes an individual for outstanding dedication and leadership in the field of public health law. The individual’s major contributions should have the potential for significant and long-term impact on the field.

The award is named in honor of Jennifer Robbins (1940-1987), a public health lawyer who practiced in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare and subsequently served as an assistant attorney general in Maryland and principal counsel for the state’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

For the majority of her career, Reagan has worked as a public health law practitioner. Following the completion of her Ph.D., she founded a consulting and research firm devoted exclusively to legal issues related to healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Working tirelessly to promote mandatory reporting of HAIs she has served as an expert panel contributor on a national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Association of State and Territorial Health Officials advisory committee whose purpose was to advise other states about enacting HAI-related reporting laws.

Reagan has consistently contributed to the research literature in her role as a legal expert in the area of HAI-related laws. Her research contributions have shown that state laws requiring mandatory reporting of HAIs have had the result of decreasing infection rates.

An attorney with over 20 years of experience in Texas and New Mexico state government, Reagan transitioned to academia in 2014. Currently, she is conducting research about state efforts for reducing and preventing drug diversion in healthcare settings. This research involves mapping existing state laws; the legal data will then be used as a source for public health law impact studies.

The mission of Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University is to improve health, eliminate health disparities and health inequities of rural communities and underserved populations globally through excellence in teaching, public health workforce development, research, scholarship, professional service and community engagement.

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/Research institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving nearly 26,500 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit  GeorgiaSouthern.edu.


Georgia Southern Reports on A Serious Flaw in Nutrition Epidemiology: A Meta-Analysis Study

Many researchers have studied the relationship between diet and health. Specifically, there are papers showing an association between the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages and Type 2 diabetes. Many meta-analyses use individual studies that do not attempt to adjust for multiple testing or multiple modeling. Hence the claims reported in a meta-analysis paper may be unreliable as the base papers do not ensure unbiased statistics. Georgia Southern researchers obtained copies of each of the 10 papers used in a meta-analysis paper and counted the numbers of outcomes, predictors, and covariates. They then estimated the size of the potential analysis search space available to the authors of these papers; i.e. the number of comparisons and models available. The potential analysis search space is the number of outcomes times the number of predictors times 2c, where c is the number of covariates. This formula was applied to information found in the abstracts (Space A) as well as the text (Space T) of each base paper. Researchers found that: the median and range of the number of comparisons possible across the base papers are 6.5 and (2 to 12,288), respectively for Space A, and 196,608 and (3072 to 117,117,952), respectively for Space T. It is noted that the median of 6.5 for Space A may be misleading as each study has 60-165 foods that could be predictors. We concluded that since testing is at the 5 percent level and the number of comparisons is very large, nominal statistical significance is very weak support for a claim. The claims in these papers are not statistically supported and hence are unreliable,  therefore conclusions In the meta-analysis paper is also unreliable.

A Serious Flaw in Nutrition Epidemiology: A Meta-Analysis Study.” Recently published in Int. J. Biostats.

Authors are Dr. Karl Peace, Dr. Jingjing Yin, Dr. Haresh Rochani, faculty at Georgia Southern University Jiann-Ping Hsu Collage of Public Health (JPHCOPH), Mr. Sarbesh Pandeya, graduate student, JPHCOPH and Dr. Stanley Young of CGSTAT, Raleigh, NC,  adjunct professor in biostatistics, JPHCOPH/Georgia Southern.


Georgia Southern Reports on Role of Local Boards of Health in Community Partner Engagement for Local Health Departments

Dr. Gulzar Shah

Dr. Gulzar Shah

Introduction: Efficient provision of essential public health services may be influenced by the collaborative capacity of local health departments (LHDs). Local boards of health (LBOHs) are well positioned to facilitate partnerships.

Objectives: We examined the degree to which LBOHs serve as a linkage between LHDs and 2 types of community organizations, health care providers and local government agencies, and the LBOH characteristics associated with the tendency of LBOHs to perform such linkage function.

Methods: Georgia Southern researchers analyzed data from a recent cross-sectional survey, the 2015 National Survey of Local Boards of Health. This survey used a probability sample of 685 LHDs stratified by the state of LHD location and the population size of LHD jurisdiction, resulting in 394 responses for a response rate of 58 percent. We used multivariate logistic regression to pursue the study objectives.

Results: LHD respondents reported that LBOHs served as a linkage with hospitals or other health care providers for 20 percent of LHDs and with local government agencies for 19 percent of LHDs. Significant association of LBOHs’ performance of governance functions existed with their chances of linking LHDs with hospitals or other health care providers (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.25; P < .001) and with local government agencies (AOR = 1.23; P < .001). Among the factors associated with LBOHs serving as the linkage, the governance function oversight was the strongest, followed by governance functions policy development, continuous improvement, and resource stewardship. The legal authority had the weakest association with both types of linkages. A strong positive association existed between LBoHs seeking community input from elected officials and LBoHs’ tendency of serving as the linkage with both health care providers and local government agencies.

Conclusions: The role of LBOHs in linking with hospitals, other health care providers, and government agencies could be further maximized, particularly given the high proportion of LBOHs that include members who are health care professionals.

Local Boards of Health as Linkages Between Local Health Departments and Health Care and Other Community Organizations” was recently published in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.

Authors are Dr. Gulzar H. Shah, Georgia Southern University Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health; Ms. Carolyn J. Leep, formerly with National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO).


Georgia Southern Professor Appointed to U.S. Breastfeeding Committee

Dr. Nandi Marshall

Dr. Nandi Marshall

Nandi A. Marshall, DrPH, assistant professor in the Georgia Southern University Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health (JPHCOPH), has been selected to serve on the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC).

Specifically, Marshall will sit on the CRASH Committee, formed by the USBC board of directors in 2013 to enhance USBC governance, membership, personnel and coalitions’ ability to build structures, systems, and a culture of inclusiveness, and mutual support for all peoples in regards to breastfeeding. “CRASH” is a mnemonic for the following essential components of culturally competent health care: consider Culture, show Respect, Assess/Affirm differences, show Sensitivity and Self-awareness, and do it all with Humility.

“I am honored to have been appointed to the CRASH committee for the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee,” said Marshall. “I am looking forward to continuing the national dialogue around not only normalizing breastfeeding, but also addressing diversity, equity and inclusion, which are all cornerstones of the CRASH committee.”

The USBC is an independent nonprofit coalition of more than 50 organizations that support its mission to drive collaborative efforts for policy and practices that create a landscape of breastfeeding support across the country. Marshall will serve two three-year terms.

Marshall will also begin new roles as the American Public Health Association Science Board Chair and Joint Policy Committee Co-Chair, and the education and training co-lead for the Georgia Society for Public Health Education.

Marshall is an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Community Health on Georgia Southern’s Armstrong Campus.

The mission of JPHCOPH is to improve health, eliminate health disparities and health inequities of rural communities and underserved populations globally through excellence in teaching, public health workforce development, research, scholarship, professional service and community engagement.


Former Sudanese “Lost Boy” Graduates From Georgia Southern with Doctor of Public Health

Abraham Deng Ater, DrPh, with Gulzar H. Shah, Ph.D.(l), department chair, and William Mase DrPH, (r) Health Policy and Community Health in the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health

In 1987, at the age of nine, Georgia Southern graduate Abraham Deng Ater was one of an estimated group of 20,000 South Sudanese boys who trekked more than a thousand miles by foot to Ethiopia and Kenya to escape civil war. During the journey, half of the boys died at the hands of starvation, dehydration or crossfire. Those who survived became known as the “Lost Boys” and lived in mud huts across sprawling refugee camps for upwards of two decades.

Ater was able to relocate to the U.S. in 2001. With him came high hopes of completing his late father’s wish — to earn a good education. December 7, 2018, he walked across the stage at Allen E. Paulson Stadium in Statesboro to earn a Doctor of Public Health in Public Health Leadership from the University’s Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health and honor his father.

“My father sent me away when I was nine years old to search for an education and to bring it home,” said Ater. “The civil war in Sudan took his life. I dedicate it to him.”

An Atlanta-based public health researcher in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Global HIV and Tuberculosis Division, Ater is also co-founder of United Vision for Change, a private foundation dedicated to building schools and health clinics in rural towns of South Sudan.

His long-range plans involve returning to East Africa to work in clinics, organize health workshops and empower local health workers to improve community health. In tribute to those who helped him along his own arduous journey, making a difference in the lives of children and refugee camp dwellers is paramount.

“Georgia Southern gave me this opportunity to succeed,” said Ater. “I plan to improve the health status of those who live in rural areas in East Africa and other parts of the world.”

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/Research institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving nearly 26,500 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit  GeorgiaSouthern.edu.