GSPH Professor Named President-Elect Of American College of Epidemiology

Issue Date: 
October 8, 2007

Roberta B. Ness

Roberta B. Ness, professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology in the Graduate School of Public Health, was named president-elect of the American College of Epidemiology (ACE) at the organization’s 2007 annual meeting last month in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“It is an honor and privilege to be chosen president-elect of the college,” Ness said. “This is an organization with a great history that has represented the finest of epidemiology for the last quarter century.”

Ness—who also serves as a professor of epidemiology, medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology in the School of Medicine—has been a member of the ACE board of directors since 2004 and currently serves as chair of its policy committee.

The ACE gathering was the organization’s 25th annual meeting. In addition to the organization’s workshops, presentations, and regular business, special events honored past presidents and achievements in epidemiology since the organization was founded in 1979.

As president-elect, Ness said she will continue to focus on issues affecting epidemiology research across the United States, including federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy rule regulations; conflicts of interest between researchers and industry sponsorships; and the National Institutes of Health review process for clinical research.

Epidemiology—the study of the spread of diseases among groups and populations—has matured into a field of its own over the past 30 years, ACE officials said, and the last two decades have been marked by significant increases in the number of individuals who choose epidemiology as a career or who enter epidemiology from disciplines such as medicine, statistics, sociology, genetics, and biology.

The American College of Epidemiology was created to develop criteria for professional recognition of epidemiologists and to address their professional concerns. ACE sponsors scientific meetings, publications, and educational activities and serves as an advocate for issues important to epidemiology.

Ness received her medical degree from Cornell University and her public health master’s degree from Columbia University. Her 1999 book Health and Disease Among Women (Oxford University Press) is considered to be among the first to propose a research paradigm of “gender-based biology.”

Author of more than 200 peer-reviewed publications and more than 20 federally funded grants, Ness has explored the epidemiology of hormonal cancers; adverse pregnancy and prenatal outcomes; links between reproductive history and cardiovascular disease; and sexually transmitted bacterial infections.

Recently, she became the founding chair of the Joint Policy Committee, Societies of Epidemiology—the first organization created especially to coordinate policies among 14 epidemiology societies.

An associate editor of the American Journal of Epidemiology, Ness also is on the editorial boards of Annals of Epidemiology and the World Health Organization’s Sexually Transmitted Disease Bulletin. She is a fellow of both the ACE and the American College of Physicians and a member of the prestigious American Society for Clinical Investigation, Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health, and the American Epidemiologic Society (AES). Ness will host the annual meeting of the AES in 2008.

Her other honors include a leadership award from the Family Health Council and a Laureate Award from the American College of Physicians. A frequent advisor to the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Defense, she has participated in four Institute of Medicine/National Academies reports in the past two years.