FHS PhD candidate Josh Alampi is the lead author for a peer-reviewed publication that won the 2022 International Society for Environmental Epidemiology's (ISEE) Best Environmental Epidemiology Paper (BEEP) award. Co-authors for the award-winning paper include FHS professors Lawrence McCandless and Bruce Lanphear, along with professor emeritus Tim Takaro.

FHS researchers win international award for Best Environmental Epidemiology Paper

September 21, 2022

By: Sharon Mah

The International Society of Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE) has awarded a Faculty of Health Sciences-led research team the 2022 award for Best Environmental Epidemiology Paper (BEEP) at its annual conference in Athens, Greece.

Professor Lawrence McCandless

The award is given to the best environmental epidemiology paper published in a peer-reviewed journal. A subcommittee of ISEE members – comprised of professors and young researchers – assesses all nominated papers for quality, originality, importance/impact, and relevance to the field, and aims to recognizes excellence and encourage publication in this field of research.

The award winning research paper was led by PhD candidate Josh Alampi and included contributions from FHS professors Lawrence McCandless and Bruce Lanphear, along with FHS professor emeritus Tim Takaro. Four other collaborators also supported the study: Brown University associate professor Joseph Braun; University of Pennsylvania professor Aimin Chen; Université Laval professeure titulaire Gina Muckle; and, Health Canada senior epidemiologist and research scientist Tye Arbuckle.

Professor Bruce Lanphear

ISEE lauded the paper for its novel application of quantile regression – a statistical and mathematical methodology frequently used in the field of econometrics – to associate individual environmental toxicants with increased presentations of autistic-like behaviours in young children in a nuanced way previously not seen with conventional statistical methods.

“Working with [Alampi] and [McCandless]…opened my eyes to a new way of analyzing and interpreting data,” says Lanphear. “We can explore the impact of toxic chemicals on human health in new ways that are intuitive and easy to understand.”

Braun agreed with this assessment, noting that “quantile regression has given us another tool to look for sub-populations who are susceptible to environmental exposures.”

Professor Emeritus Tim Takaro

Alampi mentions that the application of quantile regression in his health research attracted early attention from other investigators, and has already been used by at least two other teams in their published studies. “Despite few epidemiologists being familiar with quantile regression…most were able to obtain a basic understanding [of the method through the use of] visual storytelling and graphs. With that said, there are some technical questions regarding best practice that have not been answered yet. Our team is continuing to perform biostatistics research to answer these questions.”

Alampi and his team anticipate that the recognition from the BEEP award will likely lead to health researchers looking for ways to apply and integrate quantile regression into their work on environmental mixtures and human exposures. “Most health researchers have hardly heard of it,” observes Alampi, “but it seems like that is starting to change.”

ISEE is a scientific association that aims to foster epidemiological studies on the effects of environmental exposures in people, stimulate communication between health professionals, promote methodological advances, and strengthen environmental health policy.