Impact of the PE Fellowship

“During my PE Fellowship I learned how to integrate economics and public health to address important policy questions.” -Dr. Scott Grosse, PE Fellowship Class of 1996

The PE Fellowship is responsible for recruiting and engaging the vast majority of economists, decision scientists, and quantitative policy analysts at CDC. Programs with teams of economists have been extremely successful in developing research, policies, and practices that have reflected reasonable decisions, respectful of limited health resources. Read below what PE fellows, mentors, and supervisors have to say about the impact of the PE Fellowship.

From PE Fellows

  • “I would like to emphasize the uniqueness of the PE Fellowship training, compared with other postdoctoral training in health economics and health policy: (1) public health focused, (2) problem oriented and applied approach, (3) multi-disciplinary environment and collaboration. No other Federal agencies and institutions can do this training as well as CDC.”

Ping Zhang, PhD, Senior Economist, Division of Diabetes Prevention, PE Fellowship Class of 1995

  • “In my extensive contact with both public health policy makers (at federal, state, local, international and foreign government levels) , and numerous contacts with academic institutions, I categorically state that I have yet to see any academic institution that provides the training and orientation that would allow a newly graduated student to independently function and be productive in CDC. That is, the PE Fellowship’s role is to provide a truly unique postdoctoral training environment that trains the fellows to successfully function in a truly multi-disciplinary environment. Why can’t the academic institutions provide the relevant training? Because they don’t really engage in the multi-disciplinary and applied decision making that defines CDC’s mission. Academia, of course, trains and provides numerous talented economists and modelers. But, almost without fail, they have a hard time successfully engaging with CDC’s programs because they have, typically, never really worked with programs that have a focus on delivering products to state and local public health officials. Thus, although non-CDC modelers and economists routinely analyze public health policy options, often the resulting analyses have not been very useful to public health officials. One reason for this disconnect between product and audience is that the intended audience, practicing public health officials, typically do not have a great deal of formal training in mathematical, economic and statistical modeling. It is a mistake to under-estimate the difficulty for somebody from academia, or any other similar institution, to successfully and quickly adapt to CDC’s blend of applied science and programmatic elements.”

Martin Meltzer, PhD, Senior Economist and Distinguished Consultant, Lead, Health Economics and Modeling Unit, NCEZID, Prevention Effectiveness Fellowship Class of 1995

From PE Fellowship Mentors and Supervisors

  •  “The CDC Prevention Effectiveness Fellowship fills a critical public health need. It has been the core resource for building CDC’s capacity to assess the effectiveness and value of public health interventions and facilitating evidence-based decision making. All public health professionals need a basic understanding of economics (and particularly cost analysis and cost effectiveness analysis), decision science, and health impact assessment, but we also need a cadre of highly skilled professionals to do the rigorous technical work. While the capacity at CDC has grown substantially, in state and local public health departments it is sorely lacking. Last year LA County was fortunate to hire one of the prevention effectiveness program alumni and he is doing critical work for us across our programs, including assessing the relative cost effectiveness of major investments in maternal and child health, the cost of joint use agreements to increase physical activity, and demonstrating the value of the change in our tuberculosis screening requirements. The future of public health lies increasingly in the health in all policies agenda and the prevention effectiveness Fellowship program is critical for building the skilled and practical core of individuals that can assure we have the scientific base for public health action.”

Jonathan Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and is the Health Officer for Los Angeles County

  • “…mission-oriented organizations might want to invest in the identity of their workers by transforming them from outsiders to insiders, who feel an affinity with the organization mission. Analogies can be drawn between the military and CDC’s commitment to ensure that its workforce, both civilian employees and the CC officers, identifies with the public health mission of health protection and health promotion that directly impacts people’s lives and well-being. An approach that CDC has used in building its core workforce is to invest in different time-limited fellowship programs that recruit professionals in a range of relevant categories—medical epidemiologists, economists, informaticians, public health advisors, and managers—who are then exposed to the organizational culture and mission and trained in applying and adapting their specific skills to public health. A majority of graduates from these feeder programs are offered long-term retention opportunities, and in the process are transformed into insiders who identify with the agency’s public health mission. Graduates from these fellowship programs have helped shape the career path to public health at CDC by assuming the rank and file positions in almost every occupational category, with the most driven and talented often holding leadership positions at the agency.”

Roy, Chen, Gotway, Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, Nov., 2009

  •  “The PE fellow’s work has substantial impact on policy choices regarding the treatment of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) among leaders of tuberculosis programs at state and local health departments nationwide. His work is currently affecting discussions regarding a national strategy for the elimination of tuberculosis by elucidating the factors driving the cost effectiveness of LTBI care.”

William MacKenzie, MD, PE Fellow Supervisor, Division of Tuberculosis Elimination

  • “The PE fellow is an integral part of our team. He brings a skill set that allows him to fill gaps in many areas across our Division including cancer research, the economics of cancer survivorship, and health policy. He works closely with the Office of the Director. He is currently working with the Associate Director for Science to examine the cost and cost-effectiveness of a national colorectal cancer screening program.”

Don Ekwueme, PhD, Senior Health Economist, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control

  • “The PE fellow’s work has been essential to CDC’s agenda in evaluating the cost-effectiveness of newborn screening for critical congenital heart defects.”

Cynthia Cassell, PhD, Public Health Ethics Lead, Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disorders

  • The Global Tobacco Control Branch, at the Office on Smoking and Health has benefited from the scientific contributions made by Dr. Deliana Kostova, during her fellowship tenure. Dr. Kostova was instrumental in establishing an international economic coordinating group to facilitate in-depth analysis on tobacco economics. Deliana had submitted and presented her scholarly contributions at international conferences and in scientific journals. For example, her original manuscript on the price and affordability-results from 14 global adult tobacco survey (GATS) countries was accepted for publication. Deliana developed, co-chaired, and presented the Tobacco Economic Track at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health. In addition, she worked with the branch chief to liaise with the World Bank and the World Health Organization as a CDC content expert on tobacco economics. In addition, Deliana has served as an expert faculty during country training and analysis workshops. Deliana now works as an economist in the branch and is expanding the work she initiated as a PE Fellow. She will lead the branch’s tobacco economics efforts and liaison on partner collaborations to expand the field of tobacco economics.”

Samira Asma, DDS, Chief of Global Tobacco Control, Office on Smoking and Health