by David Tanner (’18)

Last Thursday, February 23rd, the Honors College was privileged to hear a presentation from Dr. H. Dean Hosgood Ph.D., M.P.H., a noted professor at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine, on the topic of epidemiology. Dr. Hosgood introduced us to the field of epidemiology in general, which studies the health of a population as a whole, and to environmental epidemiology specifically, which looks at how the environment impacts a population’s health. Dr. Hosgood’s lecture was relevant to the subject of this year’s Honors College reading, the book Tom’s River, which discusses the effects of chemical pollution on the health of a New Jersey town. Among the complex issues referenced in the book and explained in Dr. Hosgood’s presentation is the ever-present lack of certainty that one specific event causes one specific result. For example, if one wanted to find out whether inhaling woodsmoke causes lung cancer, a thorough investigation of any potentially relevant factors would be necessary in order to ensure that any link to cancer found is actually the result of woodsmoke and not other factors, such as the location of the study, the genetic characteristics of the participants, or simply statistical coincidence. We thank Dr. Hosgood for his enlightening lecture as well as Dr. Berliner for organizing the event.


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