FIU Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work

Florida International University - Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work
Florida International University - Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work



Department Achievements

Trepka AwardsDr. Mary Jo Trepka, Associate Professor of Epidemiology, received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on scientists in the early stages of their careers. The award was conferred by President Barack Obama on Oct. 14, 2011. According to a the White House Press release, President Obama said, “It is inspiring to see the innovative work being done by these scientists and engineers as they ramp up their careers — careers that I know will be not only personally rewarding but also invaluable to the Nation. That so many of them are also devoting time to mentoring and other forms of community service speaks volumes about their potential forleadership, not only as scientists but as model citizens.” Dr. Trepka has also been selected as one of the top 25 women Professors in Florida and one of the top Public Health faculty nationally.

Dr. Trepka and Dr. Kristopher Fennie, Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, have recently received a supplement to her award “Retrospective cohort study of racial disparities in HIV survival, Florida”.

(Photo - left to right): Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health; Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius; Dr. Mary Jo Trepka, associate professor of epidemiology, Florida International University, and PECASE award winner; and Dr. John P. Holdren, assistant to the President for science and technology and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Photo by NASA/Paul E. Alers.

Dr. Mehmet Tevfik Dorak, Associate Professor of Epidemiology, received a grant entitled “Functional Genomics of Disease-associated HLA Region Polymorphisms” aiming to analyze the functional mechanisms of the genetic basis of diseases. The work is a collaborative effort among Dept of Epidemiology, Dept of Biology and the University of Miami. The project is funded by the Department of Defense for three years and includes a graduate assistantship.

Dr. Dorak has also been selected as University-wide top scholar in the category of Junior Faculty with Significant Funding. He was one of the scientists to have been selected by the Marine Education and Research Initiative (MERI), School of Environment, Arts & Society (SEAS) and the College of Arts and Sciences, Florida International University for the first FIU/Keys scientific talk series at Coral Shores High School in Islamorada, Florida.

Wasim Waziak PresentationDr. Wasim Maziak, Professor and Chair of the Dept. of Epidemiology at FIU and the founding Director of the Syrian Centre for Tobacco Studies received an R01 grant from NIH 2013-2017 titled “Advancing addiction research and capacity to guide tobacco control in the Eastern Mediterranean.” This project aims at studying the natural history of dependence development in young waterpipe smokers, in order to guide the development of effective interventions to curb the global waterpipe epidemic (1,500,000 total direct cost).

Dr. Maziak was a keynote speaker at the first conference on waterpipe smoking at Abu Dhabi titled, “The Waterpipe: A Cultural Pastime or a Public Health Threat?” It was an event where leading researchers, policy makers, academics and public health advocates from 18 countries of the world reviewed evidences related to the waterpipe tobacco pandemic and discussed actions to curb it.

Dr. Khurram Nasir, adjunct faculty at the Dept. of Epidemiology, Florida International University and Director of Wellness and Prevention Research at the Baptist Health Medical Group has recently received the prestigious “Distinguished Alumnus Award, 2013” from John Hopkins University.

Student Achievements

PhD candidate Amy Kennedy successfully defended her dissertations and finished the requirements for PhD degree in public health with a concentration in epidemiology. Amy's dissertation is titled "Genetic Markers, Birth Characteristics and Childhood Leukemia Eisk."

PhD candidate Elena Cyrus-Cameron defended her dissertation successfully and finished the requirements for PhD degree in public health with a concentration in epidemiology. The topic of Elena's dissertation is, "Social capital, HIV risk behavior and substance use among Recent Latino Immigrants in South Florida."

Elena Cyrus-Cameron is one of the few graduate students nominated to be recognized at the commencement ceremony of FIU for their outstanding academic and personal achievements. Dr. Mark B. Rosenberg, the FIU President has accepted this nomination and Elena will be recognized at the Commencement as a "Worlds Ahead Graduate."

Elena is a recipient of the summer 2013 Dissertation Year Fellowship, awarded by the University Graduate School (UGS), Florida International University (FIU). She has also been awarded the Global Health Equity Fellow Scholarship, which will take her to Peru to conduct post-doctoral research funded by NIH.

Ezra Richards, MPH student in the Department of Epidemiology, has received the prestigious Starr Scholarship for 2013-2014 from the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, FIU.

MPH student, Chintan Bhatt had his project, titled, "Tuberculosis Prevention and Control Guidelines for Homeless Service Agencies in Miami Dade County, Florida.", published by the Miami Dade County Health Department. The project was created on March 12, 2013.

Phd candidate Kelly Winter delivered an oral presentation on "Diabetes Mortality and Black Residential Segregation" on June 11, 2013 at the Esri International User Conference in San Diego, Caliornia. This is the world's largest conference on geographic information systems (GIS) analysis and technology. Kelly used ArcGIS mapping software and regression analysis to examine relationships between census tracts with high type II diabetes mortality and high residential segregation.

PhD student Raed Bahelah has been selected to participate in the inaugural cohort of the University Graduate School's Academy of Graduates for Integrative Learning Experiences (AGILE), which aims "to enrich to enrich the graduate student learning experience by enhancing students' cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal skills through a series of self-paced, structured, and accessible interdisciplinary workshops, dialogues, and experiential opportunities."

PhD candidate Karma Scott presented her research at the International Symposium on Social Determinants of NCD in Mediterranean Countries on May 6-7, 2013, in Istanbul, Turkey. Karma's presentations were titled, "Time-trends of cigarette and water pipe smoking among a cohort of school children in Irbid, Jordan 2008-2011" and "Risk factors for cigarette smoking initiation among Jordanian adolescents: A longitudinal analysis, 2008-2011 - Theory and preliminary findings"

PhD student Valerie Pelletier had her abstract selected for the APHA meeting held from November 2-6, 2013 in Boston. Valerie's abstract was titled "Disparities in AIDS survival among U.S. born and foreign born non-Hispanic Black Florida residents, 1996-2004."

Nikki Chuck

MPH student Nikki Chuck's experiences at APHA Annual Meeting in "News & Views" the APHA-Students Assembly(SA) Newsletter

MPH student Nikki Chuck is a recipient of the American Public Health Association (APHA)-SA Annual Meeting scholarship. She is a campus liaison for APHA-SA at FIU. The "News and Views', the APHA SA Newsletter, carried an article by Nikki describing her experiences at the 140th APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition.

Alnecia Rumphs

PhD candidate Alnecia Rumphs at the Public Health Research Institute of India

Alnecia Rumphs, doctoral candidate in Epidemiology, is featured in FIU News, for her work among Indian women. Her work was related to cervical cancer, the leading cancer killer among the women in this country.

Meredtih WilcoxPhD student Meredith Leigh Wilcox presented two studies titled "Cost effectiveness analysis of salt reduction policies to reduce coronary heart disease in Syria" (oral presentation), and "Projecting future prevalence and mortality due to coronary heart disease among adults in Syria, 2006-2026" at the International Symposium on Social Determinants of NCD in Mediterranean Countries on May 6-7, 2013, in Istanbul, Turkey.

Meredith presented an abstract titled, “Predictors of endoscopy use in medically underserved communities of north Miami-Dade county--- Florida, United States, 2009-2010, at the American Public Health Association (APHA) 141st Annual Meeting and Exposition held from November 2-6, 2013 in Boston, MA.

Photo: PhD student Meredith Wilcox at the 141st APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Diana Sheehan, PhD student presented her research for the APHA 141st Annual Meeting. It was titled “AIDS survival among Latinos- Disparities by country/region of birth.”

PhD student, Soumyadeep Mukherjee, presented two of his abstracts at the APHA 141st Annual Meeting. The abstracts were titled: 1) Correlates of completing routine vaccination among children in Mysore, India. 2) Mental health and substance use among US adults: An analysis of 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey.

Soumyadeep, a Presidential Fellowship recipient from FIU (2011-2013), was also awarded the APHA-Student Assembly (SA) Annual Meeting Student Scholarship for 2013 and is currently an APHA-SA Campus Liaison at FIU.

114th Annual Meeting

Photo: Epidemiology Phd students Meredith Wilcox and Soumyadeep Mukherjee with Sir Michael Marmot at the 141st Annual Meeting and Exposition

The Profession of Epidemiology

The U.S. Public Health Service has declared epidemiology as an area in need of many more trained professionals. The Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work offers professional degrees for individuals interested in the field of epidemiology. We have designed our programs to prepare students for positions in academia, research institutes, health organizations, government agencies, and the private health industry. These programs address the need for health care professionals who are prepared at the highest level of scholarly achievement to examine the conditions and determinants of health and disease in populations. The program equips students with the knowledge and skills to apply quantitative and qualitative methods in addressing public health problems.

Epidemiological research strives to discover the causes of disease, to advance and evaluate methods of disease prevention and assist with planning and evaluating the effectiveness of public health programs in protecting and promoting the health of populations. Today, epidemiologists face daunting challenges such as AIDS, cancer, and coronary heart diseases along with lesser-known emerging diseases. The outcomes of research in this field have huge implications for health programs and policy targeting improved quality and length of life among varied populations.

Professionals in the field of epidemiology have a wide array of opportunities to apply their knowledge and practical experience gained during their academic careers. This field has an attractive job market with diverse career opportunities. Our graduates are able to secure competitive positions in a wide variety of organizations:

Federal agencies

Health departments at the county, state, and federal level

Health insurance and managed care organizations

International organization

Consulting firms

As well as many Pharmaceutical firms, Academia and research centers, Non-profit health organizations, and Hospitals.

The job market for epidemiologists is excellent. Recently, the U.S. Public Health Service declared epidemiology an area in need of many more professionals. Epidemiology is among the top in-demand fields in today's job market and will likely continue to be in the future.

  • The National Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job prospects for epidemiologists are "excellent,"with a projected growth rate of 15% beyond substantial retirement replacement.
  • According to the CDC:
  • Nearly 42% of epidemiologists working in public health have no formal epidemiology training. Our certificate courses are designed to address this need.
  • Up to 55% of health departments have minimal or no capacity in monitoring or investigating health problems and health hazards.
  • Nearly 73% of health departments have minimal or no capacity in evaluating public health services.
  • About 93% of health departments have minimal or no capacity to conduct research for solutions to public health problems.

Our Master's and PhD programs are geared towards preparing students to be highly trained for academic and professional leadership positions in public health, including the above mentioned needs.

Selected Publications

Ahmad B, Ryan V, Maziak W, Pless-Mulloli T, White M. The influence of neighborhood formality status and socio-economic position on self-rated health among adult men and women: a multilevel, cross sectional, population study from Aleppo, Syria. BMC Public Health 2013;13:233.

Ahmed NU, Pelletier V, Winter K, Albatineh AN. Factors Explaining Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Rates of Physician Recommendation for Colorectal Cancer Screening. American Journal of Public Health: July 2013, Vol. 103, No. 7, pp. e91-e99.

Al Ali R, Mzayek F, Rastam S, M Fouad F, O Flaherty M, Capewell S, Maziak W. Forecasting future prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus in Syria. BMC Public Health. 2013 May 25;13(1):507.

Andric B, Drowos J, Trepka MJ, Suciu G, Alonso A, Hennekens C. High frequencies of
negative test results among patients receiving presumptive antibiotic treatment for
chlamydia and gonorrhea. Southern Med J. 2013;106(5);321-326.

Ben Taleb, Z. Delayed tobacco plain packaging : How much more evidence do we need? [Letter to the editor] Journal of Adolescent Health (in press).

Ben Taleb, Z. Snus usage: Harm induction or harm reduction? [Letter to the editor] Scandinavian Journal of Public Health (in press)

Coutts A, Stuckler D, Batniji R, Ismail S, Maziak W, McKee M. The Arab Spring and health: two years on. Int J Health Serv 2013;43(1):49-60.

Dorak MT & Karpuzoglu E. Gender differences in cancer susceptibility: an inadequately addressed issue. Frontiers in Applied Genetic Epidemiology 2012:3:268

Dorak MT & Amadio WJ. A cautionary note on the reporting of genetic association study results. Journal of Human Genetics 2012;57(7):​465-6

Funk, M., Stephens, K., May, J., Fennie, K., Feder, S., & Drew, B. (2013). An alarming rate of unnecessary monitoring in the practical use of the latest standards of electrocardiography (PULSE) trial. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 61(10_S).

Gollub, E., Cyrus-Cameron, E., Armstrong, K., Boney, T., Mercer, D., Fiore, D., & Chhatre, S. (2013). Active Drug-Using Women Use Female-Initiated Barrier Methods to Reduce HIV/STI Risk: Results from a Randomized Trial. ISRN Addiction, 2013.

Gollub, E. L., Cyrus-Cameron, E., Armstrong, K., Boney, T., & Chhatre, S. (2013). Basic body knowledge in street-recruited, active drug-using women enrolled in a “body empowerment” intervention trial. AIDS care, 25(6), 732-737.

Gollub, E., & Stein, Z. (2012). Living with Uncertainty: Acting in the Best Interests of Women. AIDS research and treatment, 2012.

Haber G, Ahmed NU, Pekovic V. Family History of Cancer and Its Association with Breast Cancer Risk Perception and Repeat Mammography. Am J Public Health (2012)102 (12):2322-2329.

Kennedy AE, Singh SK, Dorak MT. Correspondence RE: Genome-wide association study of classical Hodgkin lymphoma and Epstein - Barr virus status-defined subgroups. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2012;104(11):884-5

Li, X., Wang, H., He, G., Fennie, K., & Williams, A. B. (2012). Shadow on my heart: a culturally grounded concept of HIV stigma among Chinese injection drug users. Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, 23(1), 52-62.

Llau, A. F., & Ahmed, N. U. (2013). The Effectiveness of Red Light Cameras in the United States—A Literature Review. Traffic Injury Prevention, (in press).

Madhivanan P, Li T, Trammell S, Desai C, Srinivas V, Arun A, Klausner JD, Krupp K. Performance of the OSOM Trichomonas Rapid Test for diagnosis of Trichomonas vaginalis infection among women in Mysore, India. Sex Health. 2013 , in press.

Madhivanan, P., NiranjanKumar, B., Shaheen, R., Jaykrishna, P., Ravi, K., Gowda, S., ... & Krupp, K. (2013). Increasing Antenatal Care and HIV Testing among Rural Pregnant Women with Conditional Cash Transfers to Self-Help Groups: An Evaluation Study in Rural Mysore, India. Journal of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2013.

Madhivanan P, Barreto GA, Revawala A, Anderson C, McKinney S, Pierre-Victor D. Where are we with partner treatment in bacterial vaginosis? A critical appraisal of the latest systematic review. Sex Transm Dis. 2013 Jun;40(6):518.

Madhivanan P, Krupp K. . Handbook of Research on Gender and Economic Life The health of the world’s women 01/2013; ISBN: 978-0-85793-094-1 In book: Handbook of Research on gender and economic life, Chapter: The health of the world's women, Publisher: Edward Elgar, Editors: Deborah M Figart, Tonia L Wernecke, pp.434-453

Maziak W. The waterpipe: an emerging global risk for cancer. Cancer Epidemiol. 2013 Feb;37(1):1-4.

Maziak W. The global epidemic of waterpipe smoking. Addictive Behaviors 2011; 36(1-2):1-5.

Maziak W. The Triumph of the null hypothesis: epidemiology in an age of change. Intern J Epidemiol 2009: 38(2):393-402.

Maziak W. The crisis of health in a crisis-ridden region. Intern J Public Health 2009; 54(5):349-55.

Maziak, W., Nakkash, R., Bahelah, R., Husseini, A., Fanous, N., & Eissenberg, T. (2013). Tobacco in the Arab world: old and new epidemics amidst policy paralysis. Health Policy Plan. 2013 Aug 19

Maziak W, Ward KD. From Health as a Rational Choice to Health as and Affordable Choice. Am J Public Health 2009;99(12):2134-9.

McKelvey, K. L., Wilcox, M. L., Madhivanan, P., Mzayek, F., Khader, Y. S., & Maziak, W. (2013). Time trends of cigarette and waterpipe smoking among a cohort of school children in Irbid, Jordan, 2008–11. The European Journal of Public Health, 23(5), 862-867.

Mukherjee, S. (2013). The Validation Breakthrough: Simple Techniques for Communicating with People with Alzheimer's-Type Dementia (3rd ed.) [Book Review]. Educational Gerontology. DOI: 10.1080/03601277.2013.844029

Mukherjee, S (2013). Comparing adult males and females in the United States to examine the association between body mass index and frequent mental distress: an analysis of data from BRFSS 2011 Psychiatry Journal vol. 2013, Article ID 230928. doi:10.1155/2013/230928.

Niyonsenga T, Trepka MJ, Lieb S, Maddox LM. Measuring Socioeconomic Inequality in the Incidence of AIDS: Rural–Urban Considerations. AIDS Behav (2013) 17:700–709.

Pandey AK, Pandey S, Blaha MJ, Agatston A, Feldman T, Ozner M, Santos RD, Budoff MJ, Blumenthal RS, Nasir K. Family history of coronary heart disease and markers of subclinical cardiovascular disease: Where do we stand? Atherosclerosis Jun 2013; 228(2):285-94.

Pavlova-McCalla E, Trepka MJ, Ramirez G, Niyonsenga T. Socioeconomic status (SES) andsurvival of people with human immunodeficiency virus infection before and after the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy a systematic literature review. J AIDS and Clinical Research. 2012;3(6):1000163

Sadler, L. S., Slade, A., Close, N., Webb, D. L., Simpson, T., Fennie, K., & Mayes, L. C. (2013). Minding the Baby: Enhancing Reflectiveness to Improve Early Health and Relationship Outcomes in an Interdisciplinary Home‐Visiting Program. Infant mental health journal.

Trepka MJ, Niyonsenga T, Maddox L, Lieb S. Rural AIDS in Florida: Changing demographics and factors associated with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome survival. J Rural Health. 2013;29 (3):266-280.

Trepka MJ, Niyonsenga T, Maddox L, Lieb S, Lutfi K, Pavlova-McCalla E. Racial disparities in AIDS survival over time, Florida, 1993-2007. Am J Public Health. 2013;103(4):717-26.

Ward, K. D., Asfar, T., Al Ali, R., Rastam, S., Weg, M. W. V., Eissenberg, T., & Maziak, W. (2013). Randomized trial of the effectiveness of combined behavioral/pharmacological smoking cessation treatment in Syrian primary care clinics. Addiction, 108(2), 394-403.

Yoo, C., Brilz, E. M., Wilcox, M., Pershouse, M. A., & Putnam, E. A. (2012). Gene Pathways. Discovery in Asbestos-Related Diseases using Local Causal Discovery Algorithm. Communications in Statistics-Simulation and Computation, 41(10), 1840-1859.


Department of Epidemiology

Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work
Florida International University
Modesto Maidique Campus
AHC 5, 4th Floor
11200 SW 8th Street
Miami, FL 33199

Phone: 305-348-0118
Fax: 305-348-4901

Wasim Maziak, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Phone: 305-348-4501


Caridad Mesa, M.P.A.
Office Assistant
Phone: 305-348-0118