Faculty Highlight – Dr. Tricia LeVan is the course coordinator and instructor for the Master of Public Health core course in epidemiology, “Epidemiology in Public Health.” The course encompasses several teaching paradigms, including traditional lectures and exams; in class exercises and discussion; small group current event topics using news, videos, magazine articles, and state-of-the-art peer-reviewed manuscripts; and a final PowerPoint video presentation on descriptive epidemiology. The course is always evolving to include fresh new teaching ideas. In addition to in-class teaching, she serves as mentor to four MPH students and one PhD student.
At an international level, Dr. LeVan is a lead instructor for MECOR (Methods in Epidemiologic, Clinical and Operations Research), which is an international group to improve global lung health by developing local, country and regional research capacity, with an emphasis on low- and middle-income countries. This year she will travel to Chennai, India, and Cesme, Turkey, for the six-day course.
Dr. LeVan’s long-term research goal is to understand the innate immune processes underlying COPD in agricultural workers, which she hypothesizes to involve interactions driven by genetic polymorphisms as well as by epigenetic modifications, both of which affect gene expression; and the airway microbiome and its influence on host inflammation and antibacterial immunity. To address this goal, her program includes research at the clinical as well as the molecular level that can be described as genetic and molecular epidemiology. Her research program, recently funded by a VA Merit Award, is developing a cohort of veterans with and without agricultural exposure. The program has successfully recruited 500 veterans and plans to recruit an additional 1,000 veterans in the next three years. Data from the clinical cohort will direct Dr. LeVan’s laboratory research in the coming years to achieve her long-term research goal. As part of this research program, she has established a genotyping facility that provides genotyping for investigators at the VA as well as UNMC and nationwide.
Tricia D. LeVan, PhD, is an associate professor in the UNMC COPH Department of Epidemiology.