Public Health


Journal of the American Medical Association logo

New Research Points to Need for Physician Vigilance on Alternative Medicine

March 30, 2016

New research by Judy Jou, PhD candidate in the School of Public Health and Pamela Jo Johnson, MPH, PhD, of Consortium member the Center for Spirituality and Healing, shows that 40% of patients using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) don't disclose it to their doctors. The article, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, looked at reasons patients gave for not sharing this information with physicians. Research found patients were more likely to discuss participation in yoga and meditation, and much less so the use of herbs and/or supplements. “Not telling primary care providers about using CAM can be dangerous, especially if the type of CAM being used creates adverse interactions with any medical treatments that a patient might be undergoing concurrently,” said Jou. Jou and Johnson concluded, "Physicians should consider more actively inquiring about patients’ use of CAM, especially for modalities likely to be medically relevant." You can learn more about how probiotic supplements and other products, some of which are popular with users of CAM, are regulated at a lecture by Prof. Diane E. Hoffmann, JD, MS (University of Maryland), on April 21. Prof. Hoffmann is a leading expert on health law and policy and will discuss the issues presented by these therapies, their marketing, and advertising, as well as possible ways to address these issues. The event is free and open to the public – register here


Newly-caught fish on a plate

Training Helps Health Care Providers Advise their Patients on Fish Consumption

March 7, 2016

Healthy Fish Choices, an EPA-funded online course, offers training for health care providers and public health workers who want to spread the word about the safest way to consume fish in the face of concerns about the environmental health impacts of toxic chemicals. The research-based curriculum was developed as part of the USDA's 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommend eating fish as a lean, healthy food source but caution that the nutritional benefits of fish consumption must be weighed against the risks of contaminants, particularly mercury. Those who complete the course are eligible for Continuing Medical Education credits. 


Mosquito spreading Zika

Researchers Call for Emergency Response to Zika Virus

January 28, 2016

The rapid spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus is the latest major challenge to global public health. While the outbreak is currently most serious in Brazil, causing thousands of birth defects, it has already arrived in the U.S. and is expected to continue its explosive growth. There is currently no vaccine or cure for the illness. Researchers are calling upon the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare Zika a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern," the first step in a coordinated response to the disease. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the WHO, has said her organization "learnt lessons of humility" because of their slow response to Ebola in 2014, convening a meeting today to discuss next steps. However, Michael Osterholm, PhD, director of Consortium member the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Prevention (CIDRAP), points to the differences between Ebola, which is passed from person to person contact, and Zika, which is mosquito-borne. In Zika's case, he notes, mosquito abatement efforts will need to be part of the effort to control the disease. Read Osterholm's comments here and here


Kathleen Call

Health Insurance Complexity Demands Consumer Literacy

January 1, 2016

As we move through the health insurance enrollment season, parsing terms like "coinsurance" and an alphabet soup of acronyms (FSA, HSA, HRA, HDHP) can present real obstacles to making informed decisions. An article from National Public Radio (NPR) provides some comfort for the bewildered, noting that even those who work in health care fields struggle with the terminology. Kathleen Call, a professor in the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health, notes: "We've created a monster, and it's not surprising to me that there's literacy issues. I've studied this stuff, and sometimes I make mistakes." Among Call's areas of study is the way complexity compromises public health and increases health disparities. Luckily, the article includes a graphic that explains the terms that most frequently cause confusion; you can view it here


Dr. Amos Deinard

Amos Deinard Honored for Contributions to Public Health Dentistry

November 20, 2015

Dr. Amos Deinard, Jr., a pediatrician on the faculty of the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health, was recently honored with a lifetime achievement award from the American Public Health Association – in dentistry. Dr. Deinard is the first non-oral health practitioner to ever receive this award. In the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Deinard is quoted as saying, "I want to see the goal met of every Minnesota child getting oral health care from his or her primary provider, no matter what their financial situation," noting that "doctors and dentists must work together." Deinard is one of three funders for the Consortium's annual Deinard Memorial Lecture on Law & Medicine; fittingly, this year's topic is how to reduce health disparities. To learn more and register, click here.  


Logo for Patient-centered Outcomes Research Institute

Patient-Centered Network of Learning Health Systems (LHSNet) – Phase II

This grant provides funds for the Patient-Centered Network of Learning Health Systems (LHSNet) to participate in PCORnet, a unique collaborative designed to link researchers, patient communities, clinicians, and health systems in productive research partnerships that leverage the power of large volumes of health data maintained by the partner networks. LHSNet includes partners across six states and nine academic medical centers, healthcare systems, public health departments and private health plans touching approximately 10 million individual lives, including patients in underserved and rural areas.

Consortium Faculty

Bruce Blazar
Bruce R. Blazar, MD
Director, Clinical and Translational Science Institute
Director, Center for Translational Medicine
Vice Dean for Clinical Investigation, School of Medicine
Academic Health Center Associate Vice President for Clinical and Translational Science
Regents Professor and CCRF Chair in Pediatric Oncology
Chief of the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program

Consortium Faculty

Debra DeBruin
Debra DeBruin, PhD
Interim Director, Center for Bioethics
Maas Family Chair in Bioethics, Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies, Center for Bioethics
Associate Professor, College of Liberal Arts Department of Philosophy

Consortium Faculty

Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH
Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP)
Regents Professor
McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health
Distinguished Teaching Professor, Environmental Health Sciences
Professor, Technological Leadership Institute
Adjunct Professor, Medical School


Ebola worker in hazmat suit

Innovative Guinea Ebola Vaccine Study Pays Off

August 10, 2015

An article in Science Magazine describes a remarkable Ebola vaccine trial conducted by a team for the World Health Organization (WHO). The researchers' approach was partly dictated by an unexpected decrease in the number of Ebola cases, nullifying traditional vaccine research involving thousands of participants. The Guinea consortium opted for an unusual "ring" vaccination design, in which only the people most at risk — those who came into contact with an Ebola infected person and the contacts' contacts — were enrolled. The trial yielded a finding of 100% statistical efficacy for the vaccine, inspiring praise from epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, director of Consortium member the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP). “We will teach about this in public health schools,” notes Osterholm. 


Alexander Khoruts

The Evolving Human Microbiome

Prof. Alexander Khoruts, MD
February 17, 2016 - 11:30am to 1:00pm

Best Buy Theater, 4th floor, Northrop Auditorium


Dr. Amy Kircher

Leading the Way in Food Safety

July 6, 2015

An article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune profiles the work of Consortium member the National Center for Food Protection and Defense, led by Prof. Amy Kircher, DrPH. The Center is affiliated with the Department of Homeland Security, and is working with public health officials and industry to improve our ability to track our food supply from farm to fork. This process, called "food traceability," is an important tool to ensure products are safe to eat, contain outbreaks from tainted food, and strengthen the global food economy. 


Michael T. Osterholm

Osterholm Receives University's Highest Honor

June 18, 2015

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents has named Michael T. Osterholm a Regents Professor, the highest recognition given to faculty by the University. Osterholm is director of Consortium member Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), and is considered one of the leading public health experts in the country. In addition to his academic and policy activities, Osterholm is the author of a New York Times best-selling book, Living Terrors: What America Needs to Survive the Coming Bioterrorist Catastrophe, which became a blueprint for the U.S. government’s response to the post-9/11 anthrax attacks. To learn more about this honor, click here


Surgical face masks

MERS Virus Hits South Korea

June 5, 2015

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus causes severe respiratory illness and has been linked to more than 400 deaths since the illness was identified in Jordan in April, 2012. The first case outside of the Arabian Peninsula was reported in South Korea in late May; since then, 41 total cases have been traced to a cluster of Korean hospitals, and more than 1300 are in quarantine because of exposure to the virus. The illness was apparently brought to Korea by a man who traveled to four countries in the Middle East; China is also reporting its first MERS case, which appears to be the result of a visit to China by a South Korean man. Consortium member Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) has almost-daily updates about the outbreak on its website, and Michael Osterholm, director of CIDRAP has been interviewed by many news outlets including National Public RadioTime MagazineUSA Today, and CBC News.


HIV cell

HIV Treatment Shouldn't Wait

May 29, 2015

A study led by James D. Neaton of Consortium member center the Clinical and Translational Science Institute has definitively demonstrated the benefit of immediate treatment with antiretrovirals upon diagnosis with HIV. The National Institutes of Health-funded study, called Strategic Timing of Antiretroviral Treatment (START), was halted early because the preliminary data was so compelling, showing patients who got treatment right away were 53 percent less likely to die or develop AIDS during the study. START was created in 2009 to clarify whether immediate treatment was preferable to the guideline at the time, which called for American doctors to start therapy when a patient's CD4 count (and indicator of immune system health) fell below 500. 


USDA poultry researcher with chicken

Avian Flu: "We're in Totally Uncharted Territory"

May 18, 2015

The current outbreak of avian flu -- the largest in US history -- has affected more than 30 million poultry so far. An article in Science quotes Michael Osterholm, director of Consortium member center CIDRAP (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy), about the rapidly evolving situation. The H5N2 strain of the virus is spreading in an "unprecedented" way, challenging received wisdom and thwarting efforts to contain the outbreak. Read the entire Science article here


Dr. Muin Khoury (CDC) lecturing

Muin Khoury of the CDC Discusses Public Health Genomics

April 17, 2015

Yesterday the Consortium hosted the final event in the 2014-15 Lecture Series on Law, Health & the Life Sciences. An overflow crowd of researchers, physicians, pharmacologists, informaticists, genetic counselors and others had the opportunity to hear about work being led by Dr. Muin Khoury of the Centers for Disease Control and the National Cancer Institute to fulfill the promise of genomic medicine across large populations. Dr. Douglas Yee of the University of Minnesota's Masonic Cancer Center provided commentary from the perspective of as a practicing physician who also conducts research and leads a comprehensive cancer center.