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PhD, Assistant Professor, UNC-Chapel Hill, Cancer Epidemiology

Assistant Professor
UNC-Chapel Hill
Cancer Epidemiology

Area of interest

My research path began as a liberal arts undergraduate student, combining degrees in Political Science and Exercise Health. Doctoral training in Epidemiology was a natural extension of my passion for untangling complex health behaviors and outcomes. My training focused on epidemiologic cohort studies, the influence of measurement error in behavioral risk factors, and application of recognized solutions to analogous questions. My dissertation explored the application of nutritional epi methods (adjustment of energy intake) to questions of physical activity (adjustment of energy expenditure). I am particularly interested in the translation of methods between disciplines within epidemiology as well as other social sciences. I have continued to explore related fields, and develop awareness of novel analytic tools through post-graduate work in survey methods, including more than 40 hours at ODUM Institute for Research in Social Science) and as a research fellow in health services research.

Currently, my research is focused on applying epidemiologic and related tools to the increasingly available universe of linked data. Linked, highly complex ‘big data’ sources are becoming more relevant to public health researchers. These data frequently do not arise out of epidemiologically-designed studies but out of other sources such as administrative data, marketing/consumer use, government, or registry data. As such, they often require diverse and non-traditional tools to understand, prepare, and leverage effectively. I have been able to use my diverse skill set to untangle and analyze disparate data sources. As the facility director of the University of North Carolina Cancer Information & Population Health Resource (CIPHR), I have played a key role in the development of a novel linked data resource for cancer research. CIPHR represents prospective data linkages between the NC cancer registry, public and private insurance companies, and other contextual datasets (e.g., Area Resource File [ARF], and Behavioral Risk Factor and Surveillance System [BRFSS]). This linked resource represents approximately 80% of the cancer population in the state and 55% of the non-cancer population. Because of the size and complexity of the data, CIPHR has also developed novel informatics systems to leverage this large, complex data resource. My own research within CIPHR focuses on: the 1) identification and exploration of novel data or data linkages; 2) origination, design, and methods for using ‘big data’ in order to mitigate bias in epidemiologic studies and 3) “systems development” to securely analyze population data.

My research goal is to use my multidisciplinary knowledge of epidemiologic cohort and linked claims data to continue developing more powerful epidemiologic data resources from existing data. I hope to use these resources to explore, questions regarding cancer outcomes and specifically unmeasured confounding from behavioral risk factors. I am eager to continue developing additional tools and methods for leveraging these types of ‘big data’. Using a “team science” approach, I will continue to lead the CIPHR team to develop novel methods to help identify, organize, manage, and use “big data” in order to make the data more accessible to patients, clinicians and researchers.

Dr. Meyer is a assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at UNC Gillings School of Public Health. She is actively engaged in the Cancer Epidemiology and Cancer Population and Control Programs at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Her research includes publications in a number of diverse and high-impact journals including; JAMA, JAMA Internal Medicine, Cancer, Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, Medical Care, American Journal of Public Health, and Health and Place. She is also Research Fellow at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research and a faculty member of the Carolina Health Informatics Program (CHIP).

Awards and Honors

1996 Gamma Delta Alpha, Honorary Academic Fraternity; Alma College, MI
1996 Pi Sigma Alpha, National Political Science Honor Society; Alma College, MI
1998 Cum laude; Departmental Honors Political Science and Exercise Health Science; Alma College, MI
2004 Sidney Kark Award for Distinguished Teaching Assistant, Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
2006 Winner, Student Prize, International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity International Conference, July.

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