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Dr. Lin’s Research Connects Geography and Public Health

Spotlight on Research at COPH
source: www.noaa.gov

Dr. Ge Lin is an associate professor in the Department of Health Services Research and Administration. His research interests include geographic information systems (GIS), spatial disease surveillance, public health data integration, and the effect of climate change on human health. Dr. Lin not only carries out cutting-edge GIS research, but is also engaged in public health practice by coordinating GIS and public health data integration activities at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

A geographic information system often includes the capability of storing, retrieving, manipulating, and displaying geographic data. Dr. Lin uses GIS to study geography by examining layers of geographic maps or data, which may be in the air (e.g., air pollution), on the ground (e.g., soil, groundwater), or of human settlements (e.g., racial/ethnic groups, socioeconomic groups, age groups). Public health professionals also study geography on the ground by examining disease distribution, health service distribution, and health behaviors. Dr. Lin not only makes these data publicly available, but also designs and develops methods for spatial disease surveillance. His recent work on spatial cluster detection of overdispersed disease data was published in Statistics in Medicine, and his collaborative work on environmental auditing of neighborhood quality by income groups will be published in the Journal of Urban Health.

Dr. Lin has several current research projects. He is working with Dr. Steve Bonasera, a geriatric physician, on defining life space using cell phone and global position system devices. They have mapped older individuals’ geographic activity or life space and are in the process of designing intervention strategies to encourage them to engage in physical activity. He is working with Dr. Zhang, an epidemiologist at the Crash Outcome Data Evaluation System, on racial disparity in motor vehicle crashes (MVCs). In this study, MVCs are identified by geocoding the crash locations and Nebraska drivers’ residential locations. Crash and injury severity is then associated with community socioeconomic level and other demographic characteristics. In his climate change and human health studies, Dr. Lin has associated birth weight with both extremely cold and extremely hot weather. He has also assembled cardiovascular disease data from Nebraska hospital discharge data and linked them to Nebraska weather data. Dr. Lin is also working with Dr. Chi Lin, a UNMC radiologist, on treatment effectiveness under different spatial accessibility contexts. In addition to his research and public health practice, Dr. Lin also teaches GIS modeling for health services research students at the COPH.

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