President’s Corner

As I wish you all a good start to the new year, I am pleased to report that the organization of our Annual Meeting is well underway – now we need your contributions for the final touch. The meeting will take place on June 18-19 in Baltimore, MD, and we expect it to be very exciting.

The events will begin at 2:00 pm on Monday (6/18) with the pre-conference advanced methods workshops. This year, the workshops will feature sessions by Andres Cardenas (Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute) and Sonia Hernandez-Diaz (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health). Andres Cardenas will introduce general concepts and methods used in epigenetics for the investigation of fetal programming hypotheses, with a focus on high dimensional DNA methylation data analyses.  Sonia Hernandez-Diaz will discuss how to reduce misreporting of results through the inappropriate use of p-values in our field. She will review basic concepts and common misinterpretations in order to improve interpretation and communication of results while acknowledging random variability.

  • The conference will begin at 5 PM on Monday (6/18). The first session will be a panel discussing the role and impact of modern causal inference methods on our discipline. Three panelists, Dr. Penelope Howards (Emory), Dr. Robert Platt (McGill), and Dr. Jonathan Snowden (OHSU) will present their perspective on this topic, followed by a plenary discussion, which I expect will be lively.
  • On Tuesday (6/19), our Keynote Speaker will be Merete Eggesbø (Norwegian Institute of Public Health), who will talk about the gut microbiota in relation to neonatal and child health.
  • We will have one of the morning roundtables on career advice for trainees and early investigators.
  • This year, the winner of the Heinz-Berendes award will give an oral presentation. This is part of our effort to increase our commitment to our colleagues outside North America.
  • The meeting will end with our business meeting, from 5:30 to 6:30.
  • As a now established tradition, we will present two awards for the best posters presented by trainees (see below).

The Executive Committee, together with Sue Bevan, is working to improve our web presence.  The website will soon feature a new look and have a link for easy access to the online edition of Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology for members. We also plan to video record selected parts of the meeting and make them available online to SPER members.

We are about to poll our membership to gauge their interest in a new initiative that will strengthen SPER’s long-standing commitment to the next generation of researchers. We plan to launch a program of remote mentoring, which will pair mentors and mentees. Please respond to the poll by clicking here to let us know your opinion and whether you would be interested in participating in this program.  We will also send a separate email with this information.

Finally, please let us know if you are interested in becoming more actively engaged in the work of the Society.  We depend on you to continue to grow.  Here are some of the ways in which you can contribute.

  • 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 become more involved and get to know colleagues. Email me ( if you are interested in becoming more involved.
  • Nominate a colleague for one of our awards (see below). This is a great opportunity to recognize your colleagues!
  • We are also looking to fill three important roles within the society: President-Elect (3-year term), Member-at-Large (4-year term), and Student Representative (1-year term)

I encourage each of you to consider nominating yourself or one of your colleagues for one of these roles.  Engaging with SPER is a rewarding way of shaping the future of our Society and our discipline.

You can also help SPER by pointing out what you think we could do better. All your comments help, and I will reply to all of them (

Thank you for your involvement in SPER. I look forward to seeing you in Baltimore this June, as your contribution is crucial to the success of our meeting.