President’s Corner: Carey Drews-Botsch

cdbotschAs we start the new year, SPER looks to our ongoing work, as well as new activities which support our core values as a Society and show that we are continually growing.  The highlight of SPER’s year, at least for me, is our annual meeting.  This is one of my best chances all year to catch up with the amazing work being done by our members and renew friendships and collegial relationships.  This year’s meeting will be particularly special as it represents our 30th annual meeting, immediately followed by SER’s 50th anniversary.  It is also the 50th anniversary of NICHD.  Thus, this June, we will come together in Seattle to celebrate our history as well as our work.

We were able to add an additional session to our meeting at minimal cost to the Society and attendees, so this year’s meeting includes two full days of activities.


  • The events will begin at 9:00 am on Monday (6/19) morning with the pre-conference, Advanced Methods Workshop. The workshop will feature sessions by Neil Perkins from NICHD, Daniel Westreich from UNC and Elizabeth Rogawski from UVA. Neil Perkins will talk about missing data.  Specifically, his presentation will introduce sensitivity analyses to address missing data scenarios under varying assumptions.  Following a short break, Daniel Westreich will discuss population intervention effects which may serve as inputs into cost effectiveness and decision-theoretic models, and Elizabeth Rogawski will present an applied example of this method.
  • The conference will begin at 2:00 on Monday afternoon (6/19). The first session will be a panel celebrating the first 30 years of the Society’s work.  Five of our past student prize winners will present a discussion of changes and advances that we have made in Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology over the past thirty years.  It is important for us to remember that 30 years ago we hadn’t heard of Zika and its devastating effects or recognized that putting babies on their backs to sleep decreases the risk of SIDS, and most studies reported that autism was a rare disorder with a prevalence rate of 0.4-0.5 cases per 1000 children.
  • Following Monday’s panel, we will have a special plenary session devoted to the 50th anniversary of NICHD and recognizing their work in the scientific community, and the prominence of NICHD scientists in SPER.
  • On Tuesday (6/20), our Keynote Speaker will be Dr. Fred Rivara, the Seattle Children’s Guild Endowed Chair in Pediatrics, Professor of Pediatrics, and editor-in-chief of JAMA Pediatrics. He will talk about youth violence and the epidemiology of firearm injuries, as well as how this scientific work has been politicized.
  • The meeting will end with our business meeting, from 5:30 to 6:30.
  • This year, we will have time for 23 podium presentations, 10 speed posters and numerous poster presentations all selected from submitted abstracts. For the second year, we will also present two awards for the best posters presented by trainees.
  • Remember to submit your abstract by February 10th (

The Executive Committee, working with Sue Bevan, has also been involved in trying to improve our web presence.  We have worked to make our membership list easier to navigate, to formalize our relationship with Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, and to facilitate networking among our members.

We are also continuing our outreach efforts to retain existing members and encourage others to join us.  Our efforts at the Epi Congress last year were particularly successful.  I especially want to thank Una Grewal and Sunni Mumford for spearheading our outreach efforts there.  The Congress was an overall success, but particularly so for SPER.  Our members were well represented, both in numbers and in intellectual contributions.

As International Liaison, Jennifer Zeitlin has been helping to ensure that our colleagues from outside of North America are engaged in the Society and that they feel welcome at our annual meeting.   Last year’s conference had a high number of international participants.  The society is working to expand attendance from outside of North America. We encourage our international members to apply for the Heinz Berendes Travel Award, due March 3rd (click here) and to contact Jennifer with your ideas for international outreach.

Finally, I invite each of you to be actively engaged in the work of the Society.  We depend on our members to continue to grow and to stay strong.  So, here are a few ways that you can help out!

  • Volunteer to help with the Annual Meeting. We need volunteers to help with judging abstracts and posters, and coordinating one of the morning Round Table discussions. These are all great opportunities to get more involved and get to know colleagues better. Email me ( if you are willing to help out.
  • Nominate a colleague for one of our awards. This is a great opportunity to recognize your colleagues!
    • Nominations for the Student Prize Paper are due on March 3rd.
    • Nominations for the Mentoring, and Rising Star Awards are due on April 7th.
    • Click here for more information about the Awards.
  • We are also looking to fill five important roles within the society:
    • President-Elect (3 year term on the Executive Committee),
    • Treasurer (3 year term),
    • Member-at-Large (4 year term),
    • Student Representative (1 year term) and
    • International Liaison (3 year term).

I encourage each of you to consider nominating yourself or one of your colleagues for one of these roles.  Nominations are due March 1st. Although we are all busy and it is yet another commitment, the rewards greatly exceed the effort, and the Society depends on you!  Please send nominations to Sunni Mumford at

Also, please let me know if you have other thoughts or suggestions for the Annual Meeting or about ways that the Society can support your work and the work of other scholars (  Thanks for your involvement and I look forward to seeing you in Seattle this June.