Mr Epidemiology

No, I'm not a skin doctor



Hey Mr Epid! What should I bring to a conference?

It’s conference time! Which means three things: 1) you’re frantically applying to every travel award, scholarship and bursary available to help fund your trip, 2) you’re trying to put together your poster and/or powerpoint at the last minute and 3) if this is your first academic conference, you’re wondering what to bring with you. This post is dedicated to the last point (inspired by Ars and other sites).

I like to pack light at conferences. You spend most of your time shuttling between rooms and the more you have with you, the more you have to worry about. That being said, I like to have the following 7 things with me at every conference:

Here’s my conference loadout. Macbook, iPhone, satchel, USB key, business cards and water bottle 🙂 (item #7 not shown)

Continue reading “Hey Mr Epid! What should I bring to a conference?”

Should Bloggers Publicize Their Own Work?

We’re not as adorable as this kitty, so I don’t know if we can get away with this sort of behaviour.

Science blog royalty SciCurious recently had a post up about whether it was okay for science bloggers to blog about their own work. Travis brought it up on his Science of Blogging site as well, and I started thinking about it.

One of the big issues we struggle with as researchers is getting our research out there, and having people understand not only what we did, but why we did it. While Sci and Travis talked about it in terms of blogging, this isn’t a new issue: Georg Franck wrote about it back in 1999 in terms of promoting your research with the media.

We want the public to know that not only is research important, but that it has practical implications, even if those aren’t apparent immediately. The last thing we want is a repeat of the “Squirrel Sex Research” story that came out in 2006. While publishing in reputable scientific journals is rewarded and encouraged, the lag time between submission and publication can range from 3 months to 2 years. So it makes sense to talk about your work so that the public can understand what you’re doing.

Continue reading “Should Bloggers Publicize Their Own Work?”

Guest Post: Dear (Food) Diary …

Mr Epidemiology: Today, I’m welcoming Natalie Causarano to the blog. You can find out more about Natalie at the end of this post.

The summer is finally on its way, bringing us BBQs, cottages, and …wait for it…the often dreaded BATHING SUIT SEASON! That moment of truth when we must face the effects of our winter hibernation (which might make us want to stay in hibernation).

Vanity aside, the benefits of maintaining a normal weight is a long-championed public health message. Yet the combined effects of increased portion sizes and our increasingly sedentary lifestyle are making it difficult for us to maintain a healthy weight. So, where should we start to lose? The diet industry seems to be growing as fast as the obesity epidemic and the price of weight loss products is even more discouraging.

One inexpensive weight loss strategy is to self-monitor with a food and / or exercise diary, which has been found to be an effective weight loss strategy by numerous studies (1). I know what you’re thinking, there’s no more room in your purse or murse for a food journal!

Fear not, the internet has the solution!

Continue reading “Guest Post: Dear (Food) Diary …”

Interview with Margriet Den Boer about Leishmaniasis: MSF Scientific Day May 25th 2012!

So on Monday I spoke a little bit about MSF’s Scientific Day (to be held this Friday, May 25th 2012). Today, I’m welcoming Margriet Den Boer, MSc, PharmD, MPH, to the blog to talk about her experiences in Bangladesh dealing with Leishmaniasis. Margriet completed her PharmD in the Netherlands and obtained a Masters Degree in Public Health in Developing Countries at the London School of Tropical Medicine. The last 10 years Margriet worked with MSF and WHO, in a combination of activities related to leishmaniasis and pharmaceutical matters, including access to drugs. Her focus is to draw more attention to leishmaniasis, and lift it out of its status of neglected disease.

For those who want to learn more about leishmaniasis, @EpiDoctor (Michael Walsh) has a great post on his blog Infection Landscapes.

Remember: You can follow along online on the MSF Facebook page, Twitter @msf_uk or by using the hashtag #MSFSD.

How did you end up with Medecins sans Frontieres? Was this always part of “the plan”?

Yes, I was always hoping to work in humanitarian aid, and especially for Medecins sans Frontieres, even though with my background in pharmacy and pharmacology there are not that many possibilities. I was very lucky as MSF Holland opened up a pharmacist position after I finished my studies. At that time I was the only pharmacist in MSF – now there is a whole network of them.

Continue reading “Interview with Margriet Den Boer about Leishmaniasis: MSF Scientific Day May 25th 2012!”

Interview with Petros Isaakidis about HPV and HIV: MSF Scientific Day May 25th 2012!

So on Monday I spoke a little bit about MSF’s Scientific Day (to be held this Friday, May 25th 2012). Today, I’m welcoming Petros Isaakidis, MD, PhD, to the blog to talk about his experiences in India with HPV. Petros is a medical epidemiologist. He has worked as a clinician for the National Health System in various parts of Greece and as an epidemiologist for the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention, in Athens. He was a biological disasters planner during the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, and in-charge of infectious diseases surveillance and outbreak investigations. He has been volunteering and working for humanitarian organizations, mainly Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Zimbabwe, Gaza Strip & West Bank, Kenya, Cambodia, Thailand, Lesotho and India. During this period he coordinated medical projects, especially large scale HIV and TB projects and supported evidence generation through field-based operational research projects.

Remember: You can follow along online on the MSF Facebook page, Twitter @msf_uk or by using the hashtag #MSFSD.

Hi Petros! Welcome to Mr Epidemiology! Why don’t we start with you telling your audience who you are and where you work?

Hi! Thanks for the hospitality! I’m a Medical Epidemiologist (which is only slightly different from a skin doctor…) and I am currently with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Mumbai, India working as Operational Research Focal Person.

Continue reading “Interview with Petros Isaakidis about HPV and HIV: MSF Scientific Day May 25th 2012!”

Interview with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders’ Becky Roby for Scientific Day May 25th 2012!

MSF Scientific Day 2012 Trailer from MSF on Vimeo.

I was recently contacted by Becky Roby, an intern with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders in the UK. The guys over at MSF hold an annual Scientific Day, where public health professionals working for MSF and other organizations come together to discuss their research. There’s an agenda available online for you to check out. Their speakers are in the thick of the action, helping people at the grassroots level.

What piqued my interest though is that they are fully embracing social media for their conference. While I have discussed how you can use Twitter at a conference (along with SciCurious), MSF will be livetweeting the conference. They are streaming it online, and you can ask questions on Twitter that the researcher can address in the post-presentation Q&A period.

You can follow along online on their Facebook page, on Twitter @msf_uk or by using the hashtag #MSFSD.

I’m hoping to have a few interviews up this week with people involved with the Scientific Day, so make sure to check back! Today, I’m welcoming Becky Roby to the blog, who is helping organize the Scientific Day.

Continue reading “Interview with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders’ Becky Roby for Scientific Day May 25th 2012!”

A Mr Epid-inar: 3MT – The Three Minute Thesis Contest!

Mr Epid-inar’s are short talks delivered by Mr Epidemiology at various venues; classes, conferences, speaker series’ etc. They should not be confused with the leafy green vegetable (French humour! Le woohoo!)

3MT is a public speaking contest started at the University of Queensland back in 2008. In three minutes, you have to describe your PhD and why it is important. You are judged on your communication style, comprehension and how well you engage the audience. Oh, and you are only allowed one (static) PowerPoint slide. Recently, Queen’s University decided they wanted to host a 3MT contest, and send out an email asking for participants.

Well, that sounds difficult. And a little ridiculous – I’m supposed to condense my PhD into 3 minutes, without any slides, and still do it justice?

Very well. Challenge accepted!

3MT Talk from Mr Epidemiology on Vimeo.

Some thoughts on 3MT. I found the contest to be absolutely incredible. As an audience member, the presentation aspect was fun and novel, and I probably learnt more about what my colleagues were doing in that 90 minute session than I have in the last 2 years I’ve been at Queen’s. The variety of research was great, and because people were told to make it accessible for those outside of their area, they really worked hard and making the concepts clear. I think this, combined with PechaKucha 20×20, are great ways to break up the existing research paradigm and inject some life and energy into conferences.

As a presenter, I found the experience invaluable. Being forced to really ask what is important for the audience to know helped me distill my thesis down to its core components. Also, trying to come up with an exciting and novel way of presenting it was fun. If you have the opportunity to enter a 3MT contest near you, I strongly recommend doing it!! If you’ve been to a 3MT talk, let me know your experiences in the reply!

Special thanks to Anne G, Lindsay K, Kim F, Raymond F, Katie K, Rebecca B, Julia N and the rest of the Clinical Research Centre for their feedback on previous drafts of my 3MT talk. Also thanks to Jess S, Michelle D, Alison Y and all my Epi and Kinesiology friends who showed up to support me on the day. Finally, thanks to Colette Steer and all the organizers and judges of the 3MT contest!

Congratulations to Dylan Wykes, M.Sc (Epidemiology) for qualifying for London 2012!

Dylan Wykes qualified for the Olympics after crossing the finish line with a time of 2:10:47!! Way to go Dylan! Photo courtesy Alan Brooks

They say graduate school is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Dylan Wykes might have something to say about that.

Dylan is a graduate of the Queen’s University M.Sc. Epidemiology program, and a marathon runner. He just qualified for the London 2012 Canadian Olympic Team with a phenomenal time of 2:10:47.

We’re all incredibly excited for Dylan, and will be cheering him on when he goes to London this August to represent Canada at the 2012 Olympics! Way to go Dylan!!

You can follow Dylan’s adventures on Twitter, or at You can also help support Dylan’s training at Runner Choice Kingston.

Guest Post: The Evolution of Sedentary Time

Mr Epidemiology: Today, I’m welcoming Lindsay Kobayashi back to the blog. You can find out more about Lindsay at the end of this post.

How sad.

The negative health effects of sedentary behaviour are a hot topic gaining scientific and popular attention. Any Canadian reading the news should be aware that sitting is killing us – Maclean’s, the Globe and Mail, and the CBC have all recently published on the topic. Given the tsunami-like obesity epidemic that has risen over North America over the past few decades, critical investigation of our sedentary behaviour is highly warranted.

Every time I hear someone talk about how sitting is killing us, I return to the same question – If I was born 50 or 100 years earlier, would I be less sedentary than I am now? In the figure above, I’ve depicted my average 16-hour day (waking hours only). Exemplary of a big question in the sedentary behaviour research domain, I am what you would call an “active couch potato” – I spend 7-8 hours week engaged in moderate-to-vigourous exercise, yet I still spend 50% of my waking hours sitting in front the computer! What does this mean for my health? And yours too – if you are reading this, you are likely somewhat similar to me. Is this sort of sedentary behaviour a new phenomenon of the latter part of 20th and early 21st century? Continue reading “Guest Post: The Evolution of Sedentary Time”

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