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Dean's Speaker Series

Colorado School of Public Health

The ColoradoSPH Dean’s Speaker Series is designed to bring distinguished experts to Colorado and engage the community on a variety of current and important topics in the field of public health. The Dean’s Speaker Series events are free and open to the public; registration is encouraged.​ 

UPCOMING​​ LECTURES: To be announced (please check back)



Javier.jpg Javier Nieto, MD, MPH, MHS, PhD​
"The Epidemiology of Sleep Health"​

This talk highlighted the “inertia” of epidemiology and mainstream medicine to acknowledge sleep disorders as important determinants of chronic diseases. In this talk, Dr. Nieto mades the analogy with the decades it took for cholesterol to be recognized as a CVD risk factor (from the 1910’s studies by Austrian and Russian pathologists, to the Framingham study in the 1950’s, to the national cholesterol management guidelines in the 1980’s) and the “inflammation theory” of atherosclerosis (from Virchow’s and Rokitansky’s writings debating the issue in the 1850’s, to the current controversies), to outline the progression and research of sleep health over the years.

Dr. Nieto is a physician-epidemiologist with ample experience in epidemiology research and teaching. His main areas of research interest are survey research, epidemiologic methods, cardiovascular disease epidemiology, and epidemiology and health consequences of sleep disorders. Specific areas of research interest include the relationship between sleep breathing disorders and inadequate sleep on chronic diseases (including clinical and subclinical cardiovascular disease, cancer and mood disorders), as well as furthering our understanding of upstream determinants of health. He was the founding director of the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW) and is author or co-author of nearly 250 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters. He is co-author “Epidemiology Beyond the Basics,” an epidemiology textbook widely used in graduate epidemiology programs worldwide. He joined Oregon State University in Fall 2016 to become professor and dean of the College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

​This lecture was held at CU Anschutz on December 3, 2018.

Vlahov.jpg Thomas A. Burke, PhD, MPH
"From Fracking to Flint: Reflections on Science from the Front Lines of the EPA"​

Thomas Burke is a professor and chair in Health Risk and Society Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. His lecture presented a frontline perspective on the nation’s most pressing environmental challenges. From climate to clean air, pesticides to drinking water safety, the science supporting our environmental policies is facing unprecedented challenges. With these challenges comes opportunity to rethink our approaches to environmental health. We need to broaden our view of the social context of environmental decisions, work across the many disciplines of environmental health, reach out to the business community, and regain public trust in science. Case examples including hydraulic fracturing, pesticide safety, lead, and PFAS in drinking water will be discussed. The new Environmental Health Matters Initiative of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine were alsobe presented.

Burke is the Jacob I. and Irene B. Fabrikant Professor and Chair in Health Risk and Society at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Health Policy and Management. He holds joint appointments in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences and the School of Medicine Department of Oncology. He is also Director of the Johns Hopkins Risk Sciences and Public Policy Institute. Dr. Burke was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Research and Development. From January 2015 until January 2017 Dr. Burke was the EPA Science Advisor and Deputy Assistant Administrator for Research and Development. His research interests include environmental epidemiology and surveillance, population exposures to environmental pollutants, risk assessment and communication, and application of epidemiology and health risk assessment to public policy. Before joining the University faculty, Dr. Burke was Deputy Commissioner of Health for the State of New Jersey and Director of Science and Research for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. He was Chair of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Improving Risk Analysis that produced the report Science and Decisions, and currently serves as Chair of the Environmental Health Matters Initiative of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Dr. Burke received his BS from St. Peter's College, his MPH from the University of Texas, and his PhD in epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania. 

This lecture was held at ​CU Anschutz on  October 1 and at CSU on October 2, 2018.

Watch the entire CU Anschutz lecture here: 


Vlahov.jpg David Vlahov, PhD, RN, FAAN
"Urban as a determinant of health​"

Dr. Vlahov is currently Professor of Epidemiology, Professor of Nursing, and Associate Dean for Research at the Yale School of Nursing. He is also Professor Emeritus at the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing after serving five years as Dean. Previously, he served on the faculty as Professor of Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins and Columbia Universities. Dr. Vlahov was the founding Director of the Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies at the New York Academy of Medicine. His broad research expertise covers urban health, epidemiology, infectious diseases, substance abuse and mental health. Dr. Vlahov conducted studies of urban populations in Baltimore for over 20 years and was a recipient of the NIH MERIT Award. He led epidemiologic studies in Harlem and the Bronx, serving as platforms for subsequent individual- and community-level intervention studies and community-based participatory research addressing social determinants of health. He served on the New York City Board of Health during the Bloomberg administration. Dr. Vlahov is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Urban Health, has edited three books on urban health and published over 650 scholarly papers. With colleagues he initiated the International Society for Urban Health (, serving as its first President. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.​

Open Forum With Dr. David Vlahov
Moderated by John Adgate, PhD, MSPH, Chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, at CU Anschutz on  May 3, 2018.

Lecture: Urban as a determinant of health was held at CU Anschutz on May 3, 2018.

Panel discussion "Lessons from HIV Prevention for the Overdose Epidemic​": Population health and its relationship to public health was at CU Denver Business School, on May 4, 2018.


Gershon.jpg Robyn R. M. Gershon, DrPH, MHS
"Emergency Medicine Metrics: How Do We Know When We Are Prepared?"

Robyn Gershon is Clinical Professor of Global Public Health in the Department of Environmental Public Health and Director of Early Career Research Development in the College of Global Public Health at New York University. She holds a B.S. and M.S. from Quinnipiac University and a DrPh from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Dr. Gershon is an internationally recognized interdisciplinary public health researcher and educator with expertise in disaster science and occupational and environmental health sciences. She has conducted more than two dozen large-scale interdisciplinary studies, with a focus on disaster preparedness, healthcare safety, urban environments, and risk assessment and management in high-risk work occupations.  She is an elected Board Member for the World Association for Disaster Medicine (WADEM), one of only four members representing the US; New York City/NYU Emergency Preparedness Partnership Interest Group Member; member of the Office of the Public Health Preparedness and Response, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Mass Fatality Management Working Group; and, member of the Fatality Management Working Group for the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response/Office of Emergency Management, DHHS.  Her research and service are recognized by several awards, including the City of New York Fire Commissioner's Special Commendation for her work on the World Trade Center Disaster and assistance on the development of new high-rise fire safety codes for New York City.

Prior to joining NYU, Gershon was Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco.  She also served on the faculty at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and was an Associate Dean for Research, Director of the Mentoring Program, and Professor at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, with a joint appointment in the School of Nursing. ​ 

This event was held at CU Anschutz on May 4, 2018.

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