Professor Amir Sapkota will become chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics effective August 1, 2022, taking over the leadership role from Professor Hongjie Liu who has served as chair for the past five years.
Dr. Sapkota joined the SPH faculty in 2007, as a founding faculty member of the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health, after completing his post-doctoral training in environmental epidemiology at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France and his PhD in environmental health sciences from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. His research focuses on improving understanding of the impacts of climate change on human health. Specifically, his group is interested in unmasking disparities in climate change-driven health burdens, understanding compound hazards and developing early warning systems to minimize morbidity and mortality resulting from extreme events with seasonal to sub-seasonal lead times. Within this framework, his research focuses on diarrheal diseases as well as renal and cardiopulmonary health outcomes.
His expertise in environmental epidemiology and exposure assessment, as well as his commitment to uncover and address health disparities, complements the outstanding ongoing research of the faculty members within Epidemiology and Biostatistics.
“We need a paradigm shift in how we approach public health. Moving ahead, we must be able to anticipate, prepare for and respond to threats like COVID-19 and climate change, rather than reacting to them after the fact."
“One common theme that has emerged from two of the major public health crises of our generation (i.e., climate change and COVID-19) is that we need a paradigm shift in how we approach public health. Moving ahead, we must be able to anticipate, prepare for and respond to these threats, rather than reacting to them after the fact,” Dr. Sapkota said. “I am delighted to lead the Epidemiology and Biostatistics department as we reimagine our research, teaching and workforce development efforts to incorporate these elements.”
From day one, Dr. Sapkota’s top priority will be to build a strong sense of community with a vibrant departmental culture that embodies inclusive excellence, collaboration and collegiality. He will strive to promote courageous risk-taking among faculty, staff, and students such that they apply their training to address the grand challenges of our time, no matter how daunting they seem.
Because of the central role that the fields of epidemiology and biostatistics play in both research and training across all public health disciplines, Dr. Sapkota is excited to enhance existing strategic partnerships with other departments and augment the department’s research portfolio.
Dr. Sapkota will draw upon his extensive institutional knowledge, collaborative problem-solving skills, and decades of experience in conducting both national and international epidemiological investigations to nurture and lead the outstanding group of EPIB faculty, staff and students, while instilling inclusive excellence across all aspects of research, teaching, mentoring and service.
"Our School of Public Health has incredible momentum and is poised for great success as we approach our 15th anniversary this fall," said Dean Boris Lushniak. "Amir's leadership, communication skills and positive and collegial attitude will be a strong asset to the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, to the School of Public Health, to the University of Maryland and the College Park community at this important time as we broaden our school’s reach and impact."