Montclair State University is Awarded $1.3 Million Grant from National Institutes of Health

Program Will Take Place in Ten New Jersey Middle School After-school Programs

Montclair State University and Dr. Mark Kaelin, professor of health and nutrition sciences in the College of Education and Human Services were named today by the National Institutes of Health as recipients of a $1.3 million grant for a five-year study entitled: Epidemiology and the Energy Balance Equation.

"Epidemiology, the basic science of public health, is typically taught to graduate students," says Kaelin. "It discovers the causes of health and disease by identifying their patterns in populations, formulating causal hypotheses, testing those hypotheses, and making inferences. This knowledge is then used to improve health and prevent disease in those populations."

The project for which Kaelin received funding is grounded in the belief that younger students can learn epidemiology and understand its role in public health. Some of the issues that can be explored with students are highly relevant to their lives: backpacks and back pain, watching television and being overweight, or sleep deprivation and academic performance.

Begun in August 2008, the project is the next phase of a project that was tested in Paterson, New Jersey schools which aims to develop the understanding of middle school students about the science of epidemiology. It will consist of a field-testing team of 10 pairs of science teachers, from five northern New Jersey school districts, all members of the Montclair State University Network for Educational Renewal.

"Knowledge of epidemiology will prepare students to become more scientifically literate decision makers," says Kaelin. "As a result, they will be better able to guide their personal health-related decisions and, in later years, provide support for public health initiatives."

The evaluation of the curriculum will be published, presented at professional meetings, and be the basis of professional development workshops for middle and high school teachers. To learn more about the top eight reasons to teach epidemiology, visit http://www.epiedmovement.org/top8.html.

Released: November 6, 2008