Monday, April 27, 2015

UVM Graduate Student Research Day

Congratulations to Ayodelle LeBruin and Kairn Kelley for their outstanding posters at last week's Student Research Day.

Ayodelle LeBruin MD, Benjamin Littenberg MD. Collection of body mass index from on-line surveys vs. face-to-face interviews.

Kairn Stetler Kelley MS/CCC-A, Benjamin Littenberg MD. Methods to Visualize Test-Retest Reliability Applied to Dichotic Listening Test Scores 

New publication by medical student Mustafa Chopan

Congratulations to Mustafa Chopan for publishing a new paper on the association of opioid medications and markers of inflammation.

Chopan M, Littenberg B. C-Reactive Protein and Prescription Opioid Use. Journal of Nature and Science. 2015;1: e122.
Background Opioid medications affect not only the central nervous system but also immune function. Pro-inflammatory markers have been shown, although inconsistently, to increase with administration of opioids. However, few studies have been done in humans, and these have targeted non-generalizable populations (people addicted to opioids). Thus, we set out to measure the association between opioid use and inflammation, measured by C-reactive protein (CRP), in a cross-sectional analysis of a large, nationally-representative population. Methods Using data from 13,058 participants in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2005 to 2010, we used multivariable logistic regression to estimate the association of elevated plasma CRP (> 0.18 mg/dl) with prescription opioid use, while controlling for a number of demographic and clinical factors. Results 924 participants (6%) reported a using a prescription opioid. CRP levels were higher in opioid users than non-users with a statistically significant difference of 0.29 mg/dl (95% CI 0.21, 0.37; P <0.001). Opioid users had higher rates of poor physical health and comorbidities, and were more likely to be female, unemployed, obese, of low socioeconomic status, and to report recent tobacco or illicit drug use. In a multivariable model controlling for these and other potential confounders, high plasma CRP levels remained associated with opioid use with an odds ratio of 1.48 (95% CI 1.20, 1.81; P <0.001). Conclusions These results suggest, but cannot confirm, a pro-inflammatory effect of opioid use. Further investigations should aim to unravel the mechanisms by which opioids, in the context of various disease states, may influence inflammation. Journal of Nature and Science, 1(6):e122, 2015

The full article is available for free at

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Seminar on "Quantifying Long-Term Scientific Impact"

The University of Vermont Complex Systems Center is pleased to present, Dashun Wang, Assistant Professor of Information Sciences and Technology at the Pennsylvania State University and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Physics at Northeastern University.

"Quantifying Long-Term Scientific Impact"
Monday, April 20, 2015
1:00 - 2:00pm
Kalkin Bldg, Room 004
Coffee and Dessert will be served

Abstract: The lack of predictability of citation-based measures frequently used to gauge impact, from impact factors to short-term citations, raises a fundamental question: Is there long-term predictability in citation patterns? Here, we derive a mechanistic model for the citation dynamics of individual papers, allowing us to collapse the citation histories of papers from different journals and disciplines into a single curve, indicating that all papers tend to follow the same universal temporal pattern. The observed patterns not only help us uncover basic mechanisms that govern scientific impact but also offer reliable measures of influence that may have potential policy implications.

Bio: Dashun Wang is Assistant Professor of Information Sciences and Technology at the Pennsylvania State University and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Physics at Northeastern University. Prior to joining Penn State, he was a Research Staff Member at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center. Dashun received his PhD in Physics in 2013 from Northeastern University, where he was a member of the Center for Complex Network Research. His PhD advisor was Albert-László Barabási. From 2009 to 2013, he had also held an affiliation with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard University as a Research Associate. He received his B.S. degree in Physics from Fudan University in 2007.

His research takes a multidisciplinary approach—combining his background in statistical physics, computer science, and computational social science—to exploit the opportunities and promises offered by Big Data. Through the lens of new and increasingly available large-scale datasets, he hopes to use and develop tools of network science to help improve the way in which we understand complexity and discover the underlying principles governing self-organized systems. His work has been applied to understand and predict social interactions, human mobility, knowledge production and scientific impact. His research has been published in both general audience journals and top computer science venues, and has been featured in Nature, Science, MIT Technology Review, The Economist, The Boston Globe, ORF, Physics World, among other outlets.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

BRFSS Conference

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Conference Committee invites you to submit an abstract for a presentation or poster during the 31st BRFSS Conference: 
BRFSS and the Next Generation of Population Health Surveillance
June 22nd – 26th  2015 Marriott Century Center2000 Century Center Blvd, NE Atlanta, GA 30345
Instructions for Potential Presenters:

* Use the online tool to submit your abstract:
* To be considered, all abstracts must meet conference criteria listed on the submission tool page. Follow the specifications for appropriate topics, abstract format, and length.

Help make this conference the most informative and helpful BRFSS conference yet! The submission deadline is Thursday, April 30, 2015. Notifications of accepted presentations will be sent by Friday, May 22, 2015.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

2015 National Conference on Health Statistics, August 24–26, 2015

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) will hold its 2015 National Conference on Health Statistics August 24–26 at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in North Bethesda, MD. The conference will bring together thought leaders in population health statistics from the public, private, and academic communities. More details on the 2015 Conference are available on the Conference home page.
The Conference kicks off with a 1-day Learning Institute on August 24, where attendees will gain hands-on experience integrating NCHS data into research and policy advancements. The main Conference sessions on August 25 and 26 will feature talks and workshops by researchers on health, health data, and health statistics.
The Poster Session will provide a forum for presentation of survey research and methodology Those wishing to participate in this year’s poster session can find more information by visiting the Poster Session page. Abstracts are due May 8, 2015.
2015 National Conference on Health Statistics

Saturday, April 4, 2015

As a follow-up to our discussion of firearm-related hospitalizations and long-term outcomes, here are some data on the outcomes associated with another variable that may reflect a cultural or lifestyle effect on health.  From

Seminar: Leveraging Behavioral Economic Principles to Promote Health Behaviors

Dr. Lizzy Pope
Assistant Professor
Director of the Didactic Program
Nutrition and Food Sciences ¤ University of Vermont

Leveraging Behavioral Economic Principles to Promote Health Behaviors

Dr. Pope’s research interests focus on integrating principles of behavioral economics (the science of irrational decision making) into nutrition and exercise choices to nudge people towards healthier decisions. During her recent post-doc at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, she participated in projects that manipulated food arrangement, price, and display characteristics to promote healthier purchasing and consumption in school lunch-rooms and grocery-store environments.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015
4:00pm-5:15pm ¤ Aiken Center 102

Hosted by Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Kairn Kelley awarded competitive training opportinity

Kairn Kelley, MS (PhD Candidate in CTS) has been accepted into the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science's Summer Bootcamp June 15-19, 2015 (  The Bootcamp is for scientists and medical professionals who want to improve their own science communication skills.