March Newsletter

Current Newsletter – Winter 2015
Follow this link to download the full newsletter(*.pdf)


Sonia Hernandez-Diaz, 2015 SPER PresidentPresident’s Corner – Sonia Hernandez-Diaz

Denver 2015, an evidence-based conference

Dear colleagues, I send with this letter my best wishes of health and happiness to you and your families for 2015.

In my nomination I wrote that SPER would maintain the focus on cutting-edge methods and on the development of trainees; and that I wanted to increase our emphasis on research to guide health care practice and policy. On these foundations we are laying the next SPER conference. However, to practice what we preach, we also collected data to build an evidence-based event.

As you may remember, we sent a brief survey asking our membership for feedback on past conferences and ideas on how to improve them. For example, our members asked for more hands-on workshops, more space for networking, more lively debates and more interaction with experts. They also gave specific ideas on topics. Thank you all very much for the very helpful comments, which will be considered for each section of the meeting.

The Pre-conference Advanced methods Workshops on Monday morning will include a session on applications of spatial modeling to perinatal and pediatric data by Dr. Michael Kramer and a session on the modeling of multiple exposures by Drs. Franco Momoli and Jillian Ashley-Martin. We will kick-off officially that evening with a welcome reception, debate and poster session. An outstanding panel of experts will debate the “Valid use of Big Data for pediatric and perinatal epidemiology”. Please send us specific methodolotical or controversial aspects you may want us to discuss. The poster sessions will be organized into topics and clearly mapped; there will be tours with designated times. To combine our scientific and social goals, both the reception and the networking tables will be placed near the posters area.

Continuing with Martha Werler’s initiative, we will have didactic Breakfast Roundtables on clinical aspects of reproductive, obstetric and pediatric conditions. We will invite clinical colleagues to lead these sessions. Please send us requests for topics you would like to see covered. The Plenary Sessions on Tuesday will highlight specific methods and will have applications as examples (selected from abstracts). Some sessions will have an overview and an interactive panel discussion in addition to the podium presentations. Our Keynote speaker will be Dr. Wanda D Barfield, director of the Division of REproductive Health within the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the CDC. She will address the question “Are we asking the right questions for increasing health pregnancies and improving pediatric health?”

The SPER Express is moving. First stop, Denver June 2015. Pack your most exciting work, critical mind… and running shoes (read on for more details).

All aboard!

2015 Pre-Meeting Workshop Preview

Plenary Sessions - SPER Meeting
We are pleased to announce that this year’s Advanced Methods Workshop will include presentations on applicaitons of spatial modeling to perintal and pediatric data and the modeling of multiple exposures.

Dr. Michael Kramer will present on applications of spatial modeling and pediatric data. Dr. Kramer is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health where he teaches methods in social epidemiology and maternal and child health epidemiology.

Dr. Franco Momoli and Dr. Jillian Ashley-Martin will present on the modeling of multiple exposures. Dr. Momoli is an Associate Scientist in the Clinical Epidemiology Program at Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute. Dr. Momoli is currently a scientist in the international MOBI-Kids study, examining the causes of brain tumors in children. Dr. Ashley-Martin is a Research Associate in the Perinatal Epidemiology Research Unit at the IWK Health Centre and recently completed her dissertation on prenatal exposure to multiple environmental contaminants and newborn immune system biomarkers.

When you register for the meeting, don’t forget to register for the Advanced Methods Workshop! Follow this link for registration details.

Award Recipients:


Service Promotion Experience Recognition

Nominations are being sought for President (2015-2018), one Member-at-Large (2015-2019), and SPER Student Representative (2015-2016). All terms will begin at the close of the June 2015 Annual meeting. Members of SPER are encouraged to nominate themselves or any other member of SPER to run for these positions, and help our Society achieve continued success through this opportunity for professional service.

The President will serve as President-Elect (2015-2016), President (2016-2017) and Past-President (2015-2018). The main duties of the President-Elect are to help the President develop plans for the Annual Meeting and to chair the selection of the Student Prize Paper Award recipient; the President designs the program for the Annual Meeting and is in charge of Executive Committee decision making; and the Past-President chairs the selection of the Heinz Berendes International Travel Award recipient and provides input as needed.

The Member-at-Large participates in all Executive Committee activities. The Member-at-large elected this cycle will be responsible for coordinating Nominations and Elections, and will replace Brian Whitcomb.

The Student Representative participates in Executive Committee meetings, encourages and facilitates student participation in SPER and works on the Advanced Methods Workshop, which precedes the Annual Meeting. This member will replace Audrey Flak.

This call for nominations will be posted on the SPER website. Nominations are due by March 6, 2015 and should be sent to Brian Whitcomb at You can also contact Biran for more information by email or by phone at (413) 577-7440. The slate of candidates and ballot will be presented to the membership for electronic voting to take place in April.

On your mark, get set, run;

Join us for the first ever “Epidemiologists Run for your Lives” 5k run/walk on Wednesday, June 17th, 2015 in Denver, Colorado! All types of walkers and runners – beginners, marathoners, and everyone in between – are welcome to register and join us for this exciting event. The cost of participation plus a commemorative T-shirt will be $10. The registration form will be available online when you register for SPER. We look forward to running with you!


SER Awards

2015 Heinz Berendes International Travel Award

SPER requests submissions of manuscripts for the Heinz Berendes International Travel Award. The manuscript should represent work in reproductive, perinatal, or pediatric epidemiology, as well as research that concerns populations in developing countries. Submissions are due by Friday, March 13 at 5 pm Pacific Time. Follow this link for more specifics and to submit an application.

Previous recipients:

  • 2009: Monique Robinson (Australia)
  • 2010: Darya Gaysina (England)
  • 2011: Marlene van Gelder (the Netherlands)
  • 2012: Francisco Schneuer (Australia)
  • 2013: Yuen Ye (Cathy) Lee (Australia)
  • 2014: Jessica Tearne (Australia)

2015 SPER Student Prize Paper Award

SPER requests manuscript submission for consideration for the annual Student Prize Paper Award. This competition is open to graduate and medical students, postdoctoral fellows, medical residents, research trainees, and clinical fellows interested in reproductive, perinatal, and pediatric epidemiology. Follow this link for more specifics and to submit an application.

Previous Recipients:

  • 2009: Mahsa Yazdy (Boston University)
  • 2010: Jennifer Hutcheon (University of British Columbia)
  • 2011: Sunni Mumford (NICHD)
  • 2012: Candice Johnson (Emory University)
  • 2013: Jenny Carwile (Harvard University)
  • 2014: Quaker E. Harmon (NIEHS)

2015 SPER Mentoring Award

This award is to recognize the importance of dedicated and skilled mentors in the development of reproductive, pediatric, and perinatal epidemiologists (RPPE) at all levels. The nominees will be evaluated based on proficiency in mentoring skills, dedication to mentoring, and attention to advisee development both technically, professionally, and personally in the field of RPPE epidemiology. Follow this link for more specifics and to submit an application.

Previous Recipients:

  • 2009: Michael Kramer (Canadian Institutes of Health Research, McGill University)
  • 2010: Germaine Buck Louis (NICHD)
  • 2011: Pauline Mendola (NICHD)
  • 2012: Martha Werler (Boston University)
  • 2013: Sven Cnattingius (Karolinska Institutet)
  • 2014: K.S. Joseph (University of British Columbia)

2015 SPER Rising Star Award

This award is to recognize early to mid-career investigators whose achievements and potential set them on a trajectory to become research leaders in the field of reproductive, perinatal, and pediatric epidemiology. Overall research contributions thus far, including publications, presentations, and influence on the field will be considered. Follow this link for more specifics and to submit an application.

Previous Recipients:

  • 2009: Emily Oken (Harvard University)
  • 2010: Cuilin Zhang (NICHD)
  • 2012: Tyler VanderWeele (Harvard University)
  • 2013: Jennifer Hutcheon (University of British Columbia)
  • 2014: Sunni L Mumford (NICHD)

Note: Nominated research must be submitted separately as an abstract in order for it to be considered for presentation in the event that it is not selected for the award.

Exciting News

SPER Member Grant Review Service

We are excited to launch a new grant review process for SPER member applicants by SPER member reviewers. You’ll soon receive a solicitation to sign up as a potential reviewer, to be followed by an invitation to submit an application for review. We will require a 90-day lead time in advance of the deadline for the application to be submitted to the funding agency, so start planning now!

SPER Stars

SPER would like to congratulate Dr. Mary L. Hediger on being the recipient of the 2014 Agnes Higgins Award!

The march of Dimes Agnes Higgins Award recognizes achievement in research, education, or clinical services in the field of maternal-fetal nutrition. Dr. Hediger was honored as a researcher and educator whose work changed nutritional guidelines to improve the health of pregnant teens and women carrying twins.


Advanced Methods Workshop Archives

The SPER Advanced Methods Workshop is held every year prior to the annual meeting. With permission from the presenters, pdfs from the last 5 years’ workshops are now available to SPER members online. They are stored in the Members Only section of the SPER website under “Meeting Resources.” We hope you find these presentations useful. If you have any questions, contact many thanks to our wonderful presenters for allowing us to share their work!

2016 Epidemiology Congress of the Americas
June 20-24, 2016
Miami Hyatt, Miami, Florida

Plans for the Congress meeting in June 2016 are underway. SPER will meet the two days before, as usual, but will also play an active role in the three-day Congress meeting. SPER is a primary sponsor of the Congress, Martha Werler and Robert Platt sit on the Executive Committee, and SPER Past-President Russ Kirby is the Congress Program Chair. SPER representatives sit on all planning committees, including those charged with development, plenary session, symposia, and student/early career sessions. You can look forward to at least one symposium and one plenary session sponsored by SPER.

Have you shown SPER how much you “like” it?

Please take a minute to visit SPER’s Facebook page. It is a great way to stay up-to-date with everything going on in the Society.