Director of Epidemiology PhD Program
Passionate, interactive classrooms begin with dedication
Dr. Dana Dabelea doesn’t expect her students to simply sit back and listen to her lectures. She believes in active listening, learning and thinking so she can enhance the training of epidemiologists and health professionals whose work will lead to improved health in populations. Through direct student interaction, Dr. Dabelea continues to learn from her students daily.
“I believe that education is one of the most important missions of academia,” states Dr. Dabelea. “A teacher is a person passionate about a topic and equally passionate and effective about communicating that topic to others. True learning involves active thinking. An effective teacher is one that is able to make her students think about the topic and apply it in some ways to their own professional lives.”
In Dr. Dabelea’s Epidemiologic Field Methods course PhD students actively develop and apply their skills to current epidemiologic projects. Through field research, proposal writing, budget development, staff hiring and training, and protocol and instrument development and implementation, students transfer classroom knowledge to professional applications. In her classroom she promotes respect and confidence to encourage discussion with all students, even those less eager to verbalize their concerns and opinions.
“I am a firm believer in active learning and thus I try to maintain an interactive classroom environment,” Dr. Dabelea explains. “I try to accomplish this not only through presentations and lectures, but through questions that structure classroom discussion, critical reading sessions, and writing assignments. Through exam questions, I ask students to synthesize the topic and defend a position. I believe that setting high standards is an important way to help students develop and accomplish their potential.”
In addition to teaching, Dr. Dabelea is the principal investigator of the SEARCH study at CSPH and national study co-chair. SEARCH is a multi-center study funded by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and NIDDK (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) that focuses on U.S. diabetic children under the age of 20. Data from approximately 9000 diabetic children is being collected to help offer insight and recommendations to clinicians on how to better care for this growing patient population.
Additionally, Dr. Dabelea is principal investor on the National Children’s Study at CSPH, funded by the National Institutes of Health. The Study is examining the effects of environmental influences on the health and development of more than 100,000 children across the United States, following them from before birth until age 21. The goal of the Study is to improve the health and wellbeing of children.
“Research is the essential first step necessary to provide evidence-based data to inform public health programs and policies,” states Dr. Dabelea. She is providing the public with research in chronic disease epidemiology focused on type I and type II diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, she studies lifecourse epidemiology which is the study of long-term effects on disease risk of a variety of exposures occurring throughout the lifecourse—gestation, childhood and adulthood.
Dr. Dabelea joined the CSPH faculty in 2006. Prior, she spent five years as assistant professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine & Biometrics at the University of Colorado Denver, the precursor to the Colorado School of Public Health.
“The most rewarding aspect of the Colorado School of Public Health education is the opportunity to directly interact with intelligent, motivated and engaged students with diverse scientific backgrounds and creative ideas,” Dr. Dabelea says. “The School is a place with high standards and extremely dedicated faculty and staff that will definitely meet your scholarly expectations, but will also make you feel at home.”