The WVU School of Public Health will host its fall 2015 Public Health Dialogues Speaker Series. The monthly series will continue its quest to establish a broader conversation about the social determinants of health in West Virginia and bring relevant public health issues to the forefront.

Sponsored by the Office of Public Health Practice and Workforce Development within the WVU School of Public Health, the Public Health Dialogues Speaker Series is free and open to the public. All presentations will take place in room 1905 of the Health Sciences Center.

Those interested in attending should RSVP to to reserve a complimentary lunch. Indicate in the subject line which event(s) you will be attending. Locations, times and complete speaker bios are posted at Questions about the Speaker Series can be directed to Crystal Rhodes at 304-293-0760 or

The Fall 2015 schedule and speaker briefs follow.

  • Marice Ashe, J.D., M.P.H., will present "Legal and Policy Tools to Address Chronic Diseases (and we don’t mean the ACA)" from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1. Ashe is the CEO and founder of the Oakland-based nonprofit ChangeLab Solutions, a pioneer in improving and sustaining communities. As executive director, Ashe has launched a number of groundbreaking efforts to improve public health through the use of law and policy. Under her leadership, ChangeLab Solutions builds the capacity of leaders across the nation to address a range of chronic diseases through practical policy solutions. ChangeLab Solutions’ team of lawyers, city planners, architects, and policy specialists develop model laws and policies, consult on tough policy questions, and provide training and technical assistance to ensure strong policy initiatives and sustainable solutions.
  • Colleen Heflin, Ph.D., will discuss "The Mediating Effects of SNAP on Health Outcomes for Low Income Households" from noon to 1:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2. Dr. Heflin's work is informed by the study of processes that create systems and patterns of social stratification. However, because she is interested in how social policies affect the well-being of vulnerable populations, her work falls at the boundaries of sociology, economics, public health, public administration and women’s studies. Her interdisciplinary research program focuses on understanding the survival strategies employed by low-income households to make ends meet and the implications of using these strategies for individual and household well-being. A central focus of her work has been understanding the causes and consequences of material hardship.
  • Sally Morton, Ph.D., will present "Patient-Centered Comparative Effectiveness Research" from noon to 1:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6. Dr. Morton is founding editor of "Statistics, Politics and Policy" and professor and chair of the Department of Biostatistics in Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh. In her talk, Morton will discuss several issues, including data sources and study designs, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) methodology standards and partnership with stakeholders. Morton’s research focuses on the use of meta-analysis in evidence-based medicine and the sampling of vulnerable populations. Morton answers “What healthcare treatment works best, for whom and under what circumstances?” from the unique perspective of the patient as decision-maker. Patients and other stakeholders – such as families, caregivers, clinicians and policy makers – are partners in the research, rather than solely subjects or participants. Consequently, fundamental design, methodology, implementation and interpretation challenges and opportunities have arisen in the context of PR-CER.
  • Jim Dunn, Ph.D., will discuss "Income inequality, public services and premature mortality in US states – can investments in human capital compensate for the effects of inequality on health?" from noon to 1:15 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4. Dr. Dunn reviews research from 2005 that investigated the relation between government expenditures on public services and all-cause mortality in US states, with emphasis on the part public services play in the relation between income inequality and population health. A large body of research now suggests that socioeconomic factors are influential in the production of population health and numerous studies have shown a relation between income inequality and mortality in the USA. The causal factors underlying such a relation, however, have been debated. One hypothesis is that places that tolerate high levels of income inequality may systematically underinvest in human capital and public services. This presentation addresses the underinvestment hypothesis by examining 1) the relation between expenditures on public services by state and local governments and all-cause mortality, and 2) whether the association between income inequality and mortality is attenuated by public spending.

The Office of Public Health Practice and Workforce Development is a Local Performance Site of the Region III Public Health Training Center funded by HRSA.