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Leading research to understand, treat, and prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases
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D. Rebecca Prevots, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Chief, Epidemiology Unit

Laboratory of Clinical Infectious Diseases

Major Areas of Research

  • Epidemiology of nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) and bronchiectasis in the United States and globally
  • Spatio-temporal mapping and ecology of infectious diseases
  • Epidemiology of malaria in Tanzania and Mali

Program Description

Epidemiology is a core science in public health that includes surveillance, observation, hypothesis testing, analytic research, and experiments and interventions. As the fundamental science of preventive medicine and public health, epidemiology has traditionally focused on disease causation through population studies. Epidemiologists develop and evaluate hypotheses about the effects of hereditary, behavioral, environmental, and healthcare factors on human health and develop the knowledge bases for disease prevention and control programs. The field is interdisciplinary and has a methodology distinct from, but dependent on, biostatistics. Epidemiologists incorporate into their research the knowledge base and tools of other disciplines including the biologic sciences, clinical research, and other population sciences.

The Epidemiology Unit leads and supports research of relevance to the mission of NIAID and the Laboratory of Clinical Infectious Diseases, with approaches that include the following:

  • Analysis of national morbidity and mortality datasets (e.g., hospital discharge datasets) to develop and test hypotheses regarding disease prevalence, trends, and risk factors
  • Integrated analysis of clinical and microbiologic data using multivariate methods to identify relative host and pathogen contributions to infection and disease
  • Design of clinical and population-based studies with appropriate methods and sampling strategies
  • Application of population-based strategies to studies of infectious disease, incorporating the tools of molecular biology and genetics into population-based samples to identify markers of disease susceptibility

Other research areas include spatio-temporal analysis of infectious diseases, pre- and post-licensure vaccine evaluation, health disparities in severe outcomes of infectious diseases, defining optimal clinical end-points for clinical trials of vaccines, and technical evaluation of data underlying science-to-policy issues.

Training is vital to the mission of the Epidemiology Unit, and we maintain ties to schools of public health in the Washington, DC, and Maryland areas, as well as around the country. We provide research training opportunities to post-baccalaureate, post-doctoral, M.P.H., and Ph.D. students. In addition, we maintain ties with academic institutions, national organizations (e.g., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration), and international organizations (e.g., World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization) to embed trainees within ongoing research in a public health context.

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Dr. Prevots began her public health research career at the New York City Department of Health in 1985, working as a public health advisor in the AIDS surveillance and epidemiology unit. From there she went to the University of Michigan, where she earned her M.P.H. in 1988 and her Ph.D. in epidemiology in 1991. Upon completing her Ph.D., she joined the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During her time at CDC, she worked primarily on the epidemiology of vaccine preventable diseases, as well as HIV/AIDS. After joining NIAID in 2003, she began focusing on studies related to the epidemiology of tuberculosis and nontuberculous mycobacteria. In 2007, she became chief of the newly created epidemiology section in LCID and is working primarily on studies of nontuberculous mycobacteria but is also involved on a range of studies related to other infectious diseases.

Research Group

D. Rebecca Prevots, Ph.D., M.P.H., Epidemiologist and Associate Scientist
Kenneth N. Olivier, M.D., M.P.H., Clinical Epidemiologist
Amy E. Seitz, M.P.H., Research Assistant
Jennifer Adjemian, Ph.D., Epidemiologist
Aprielle Wills, M.P.H., Research Assistant
Sara E. Strollo, M.P.H.,Research Assistant
Scott Nash, Ph.D., M.P.H., Epidemiologist and Postdoctoral Fellow

Selected Publications

Prevots DR, Adjemian J, Fernandez AG, Knowles MR, Olivier K. Environmental risks for nontuberculous mycobacteria: individual exposures and climatic factors in the Cystic Fibrosis population. Annals Am Thoracic Soc 2014 Annals ATS July 28, 2014 [epub ahead of print].

Adjemian J, Olivier KN, Prevots DR. Nontuberculous Mycobacteria among Cystic Fibrosis Patients in the United States: Screening Practices and Environmental Risk. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2014 Jul 28. [Epub ahead of print]

Goncalves BP, Huang CY, Morrison R, Holte S, Kabyemela E, Prevots DR, Fried M, Duffy PE. Parasite burden and severity of malaria illness in African children. New England Journal of Medicine 2014;370:1799-1808.

Olivier KN, Shaw PA, Glaser TS, Bhattacharyya D, Fleshner M, Brewer CC, Zalewski CK, Folio LR, Seigelman JR, Holland SM, Prevots DR. Effectiveness and toxicity of inhaled amikacin for refractory pulmonary nontuberculous mycobacterial disease. Annals of the American Thoracic Society 2014;11:30-5.

Leung JM, Fowler C, Smith C, Adjemian J, Frein C, Claypool R, Holland SM, Prevots DR, Olivier KN. A Familial Syndrome of Pulmonary Nontuberculous Mycobacteria Infections. American Journal of Respiratory and Criticial Care Medicine (letter) 2013; 188: 1373-6.M

Adjemian J, Prevots DR, Gallagher J, Heap K, Gupta R, Griffith D. Lack of Adherence to Evidence-based Treatment Guidelines for Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Lung Disease. Annals of the American Thoracic Society 2013; 11: 9-16.

Visit PubMed for a complete publication listing.

Last Updated September 19, 2012