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Dr. Onyebuchi A. Arah Elected President of Society for Epidemiologic Research

Dr. Onyebuchi A. Arah, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of epidemiology, has been chosen as president-elect of the Society for Epidemiologic Research, or SER

Monday, June 7, 2021

Dr. Onyebuchi A. Arah, professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, has been chosen as president-elect of the Society for Epidemiologic Research (SER).

The SER selects its leadership for a three-year term; Arah will serve as president-elect in 2021-22, president in 2022-23 – including leading the society’s next planned world meeting in 2022 - and past-president in 2023-24.

“The Society is the premier professional society for epidemiologists in the United States and increasingly internationally, and our members have, and continue to play, key roles in the global response to COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2,” said Arah, who has taught at the Fielding School since 2009. Along with his teaching and research duties, Arah is currently an associate dean at UCLA’s Graduate Division and has served as the chair of the Fielding School’s International Health Committee, director of the school’s Center for Global and Immigrant Health, and as the founding associate dean for global health. He is also a member of UCLA’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force.

“The biggest obstacle facing epidemiologists is reimagining the path forward for epidemiology and its role in the health sciences and in public broadly post-COVID-19,” Arah said. “We just cannot continue with the way things were before the pandemic. We must adapt and address the fault lines in our work and approach that were exposed by the pandemic. The spotlight is now on us.”

A physician trained at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, and the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, Arah did his graduate training in Europe, where he received his MSc, DSc, and MPH degrees from Erasmus University Rotterdam, and a PhD from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Amsterdam, both in the Netherlands. He also trained at the University of Cambridge, in the United Kingdom, and is currently an Honorary Skou Professor at the University of Aarhus, in Denmark.

The SER is the oldest and largest general epidemiology society in North America and co-publisher of the American Journal of Epidemiology. The current president of the Society, Dr. Jay Kaufman, a professor of epidemiology at Montreal’s McGill University, said the wide range of Arah’s past experiences makes him well-suited to take on the post.

“Dr. Arah is a physician, statistician and biomedical scientist of enormous breadth and accomplishment, someone widely admired for his technical skills as an epidemiologist as well as his gentle, positive demeanor and deep commitment to responsible and impactful research,” Kaufman said. “He contributes to a broad range of substantive research programs, he publishes prodigiously, and he has been the proud mentor of many young superstars forming the new generation of the field.”

Arah is the second Fielding School professor to serve as president of the Society; his colleague in the department of epidemiology, Dr. Roger Detels, distinguished research professor of epidemiology and infectious diseases, served in the post in the late 1970s.

“I am delighted that my colleague will be serving as president of the Society for Epidemiologic Research,” Detels said. “Professor Arah is a leader in developing cutting analytic strategies for epidemiology. He has the professional standing among his peers and charisma to be a strong leader for the Society.”