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SER President Uses Strategic Vision To Frame His Address At 50th Anniversary Meeting

Pays Tribute To Past Presidents With Pictures, And A Shout Out In Song

Those are the elements of a vision developed as part of a strategic planning process at Boston University’s (BU) School of Public Health. It also served as the framework borrowed by one of its faculty members, Bernard Harlow, outgoing President of the Society for Epidemiologic Research (SER), for his Presidential Address at the 50th anniversary meeting of the SER in Seattle this month.

Ending with a flourish, Harlow played a song to the melody of “Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover” with amusingly doctored lyrics to honor the 50 past presidents of the SER all the way from Abraham Lilienfeld in the early days to Diane Lauderdale in more recent times. The song was accompanied with pictures of the past presidents dug up from the SER archives. The audience was elated and offered a standing ovation.

On Thinking

In using the framework Think. Teach. Do to underline the importance of thinking in epidemiology, Harlow urged his audience to think about their strengths, how they can improve upon their professional development, how they can contribute to epidemiology both inside and outside of SER, and finally how they can engage with the community to bring about more impact in public health. It was a presentation well aligned with a consequentialist vision of epidemiology.

On Teaching

On the teaching element of the framework, Harlow focused on encouraging colleagues to convey the value of epidemiology to scientists in other disciplines, to other epidemiologists through the means afforded by SER, and to serve early stage investigators by being outstanding mentors.

In highlighting the importance of doing, Harlow described some of the SER accomplishments in the past year and urged attendees to ask themselves what they can do to further the work of SER.

50 Years We’ve Loved Our Epi

The session closed in an upbeat

celebratory manner with the refrain from Harlow’s new song—“50 Years We’ve Loved Our Epi”. He managed to cycle through more than 30 pictures of former SER presidents while playing his song and giving a shout out to each president. He concluded with a series of tableaux with the pictures of all 50 past SER presidents.

Readers will be able to access the song played by Harlow to the melody of “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” on the SER website in the near future. He kindly provided the lyrics for The Epi Monitor shown below:

When I was young
My mentor Noel explained to me

The gift of data,
But confounding no one sees

We’ve come so far
In how we judge causality

We’ve all had,
50 years to love our Epi,
50 years to love our Epi

Our students ask us how we’ve
Changed over the years

We say we’re more than
Food-borne outbreaks at the Fair

We’ve spanned the globe
In leading studies far and near

We’ve all had,
50 years to love our Epi,
50 years to love our Epi
We’ve gotta thank Abe, babe
And the great John Snow, y’know
How about Art to start
There’s more than we know
Let’s thank the two Al’s, pals
And that devlish old Lew, too
We gotta bring on Leon, dude
Just listen to me
Let’s call out the Sax, Max
Don’t forget about Milt, Wilt
We’re thinkin about Liz, Tiz
That’s only a few
Let’s not forget Ken, then
And the great Pat Buffler
Don’t forget about Kap, Chap

There’s many more too
We’ve watched our students
Grow to be our legacy

They’ll keep us growing
With new methodology

They’ll face new challenges
With Trump’s health strategy

They’ll bring a new,
50 years to love our Epi,
50 years to love our Epi

So as we celebrate
Our decade number five

Let’s not forget the ones
That helped us to survive

We’ve named a few today
But there are many more of we,
Who made up

50 years to love our Epi,
50 years to love our Epi
Let’s firmly thank Sherm, man
And our own Sandro, bro
Don’t forget about Mike, Ike
And Mary Haan too
We gotta shout out Julie, Hoolie
And our own Louise, please
Don’t forget about Szklo, y’know
Gotta thank a few more
Let’s thank our own Carol, Hogue
And Polly the poet, y’know it
Let’s rave about the Daves
And Malcolm Maclure
Bring up the slim, Tim
And the great Germaine, dame
Don’t forget about Les, Tess
And the Di’s on each end

We’ve named a few today
But there are many more of we,
Who made up

50 years to love our Epi,
50 years to love our Epi

Asked about the SER meeting overall, Harlow told the Monitor, “The meeting was largest in SER history and featured cutting edge methods, historical reflections, and many special sessions that reflected on the contributions epidemiologists have made over the past 50 years. It was truly a special meeting for all.”  ■

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