Joe Gerald, MD, PhD, associate professor at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, received a Public Health Research Award from the Arizona Public Health Association (AzPHA). The award recognizes a person or team whose research contributes to the advancement of public health science or practice in the state.
Dr. Gerald’s weekly Arizona COVID-19 forecast data reports were an important guide for decision makers at the university, in Tucson, Pima County and across Arizona during the pandemic.
Dr. Gerald joined the UArizona Health Sciences faculty in 2009 and is director of the College of Public Health’s Public Health Policy and Management Program and MD-MPH Program. He is also an associate scientist with the UArizona Cancer Center Biobehavioral and Social Sciences Research Program, and the UArizona Health Sciences Asthma and Airways Disease Research Center. In addition, he is co-chair of the UArizona Public Health Advisory COVID Team (PHACT), which was presented with a 2021 UArizona Team Award for Excellence.
Will Humble, MPH, executive director of AzPHA, noted that Dr. Gerald’s weekly reports have been critical to both informing public policy and public health advocacy. The reports contain graphs and consumable information about epidemiology, hospital assessments including bed availability in the ICU and general ward, weekly case numbers and age distribution. “It was timely, thorough and concise, and absolutely essential to informing advocacy,” Humble said. The weekly reports often were used by journalists in their reporting, he added.
“I am honored that my colleagues deemed my work worthy of recognition when so many have accomplished so much during this pandemic,” said Dr. Gerald. “My primary motivation for producing the reports was to ensure local, state, and federal policymakers had accurate, actionable information and policy recommendations to help them protect their constituents and communities.”
Dr. Gerald acknowledged his colleague, Patrick Wightman PhD, MPP, assistant professor and director of health analytics in the Center for Population Science & Discovery, for his invaluable contributions behind the scenes preparing the data and graphs used in the reports. Dr. Gerald also recognized Humble for promoting the reports to a broader audience than he could have reached on his own each week.
The AzPHA has 900 members across the state. Members can nominate an individual or team for the 11 award categories given out at the AzPHA Annual Awards Event. The 2021 event took place in Phoenix in the fall. The goal of the event was to recognize Arizona’s public health leadership amidst the pandemic. Dr. Gerald is the inaugural winner of the Public Health Research Award.