Two Miller School Epidemiologists Earn National Public Health Awards

The American Public Health Association has recognized Lora E. Fleming, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., M.Sc., professor of epidemiology and public health, and Alberto Caban-Martinez, D.O., Ph.D., M.P.H., C.P.H., voluntary assistant professor of epidemiology and public health, for their extraordinary contributions to public health.

A renowned researcher and educator, Fleming is the recipient of the national 2012 American Public Health Association’s Student Mentoring Award for her essential role in mentoring public health students and young professionals.

Fleming credited the students and faculty of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, especially José Szapocznik, Ph.D., and David Lee, Ph.D., who she said have been instrumental in her success. “I feel privileged to work with remarkable public health researchers and practitioners around the world, some of whom start out as my students, but all of whom end up as my colleagues and mentors,” she said. “I’m also grateful for Sharon Smith, professor of marine biology and fisheries, who was my mentor and colleague in oceans and human health at RSMAS.”

As the only board-certified occupational and environmental medicine physician and epidemiologist in South Florida, Fleming serves in a unique role at the University, where she holds a joint appointment in marine biology and fisheries at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and studies harmful algal blooms, such as red tide, and their effect on coastal communities. She also works with other researchers and students to promote research in cancer epidemiology and prevention and health disparities in Florida.

“Dr. Lora Fleming is a gifted investigator and extremely capable mentor who gives generously of her time,” said Szapocznik, professor and Chair of Epidemiology and Public Health. “Her students often obtain F30 and F31 NIH awards and invariably have an excellent record of publications — a testament to the kind of intellectual investment that she makes to her students.”

Fleming, who is also Director of the European Centre for the Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter Medical School in England, will use her award to start an APHA travel fund to enable students to attend the association’s annual meeting.

In addition to Fleming, Caban-Martinez has been honored with the Outstanding New Community Public Health Professional Award from the APHA’s Latino Caucus in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the practice and profession of health service delivery and disease prevention. He is Chief Research Fellow of the Liberty Mutual-Harvard School of Public Health Program in Occupational Injury and Disability Research and President of the 283-member Harvard Public Health Postdoctoral Association.

“I am extremely humbled to be recognized for this national award by an incredibly important U.S. public health organization,” said Caban-Martinez. “There are many challenges to physical, mental and spiritual well-being and health in the Latino community, and I really enjoy generating solutions that improve our community’s health.”

Caban-Martinez hopes to use his award to support additional research projects that raise awareness of occupational health disparities faced by minority workers in the United States and abroad.

“Dr. Alberto Caban-Martinez is untiring in his contributions to his department, school and peers,” said Szapocznik. “While an epidemiology doctoral student at UM, Caban-Martinez conducted occupational health research to benefit blue collar workers, and singlehandedly established our Public Health Student Association and a chapter of the public health honorary society. He always finds ways to bolster the educational experience of his peers.”

In addition to their awards, Fleming and Caban-Martinez received $500 at APHA’s 140th Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Francisco October 30.

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