January 5, 2021

Michele Cote, Ph.D., wins the American Public Health Association’s 2020 John Snow Award

Michele Cote, Ph.D., Wayne State University School of Medicine professor of Oncology, received the 2020 John Snow Award from the American Public Health Association.

The award is presented annually to recognize an outstanding epidemiologist for excellence in epidemiologic practice or research.

Michele Cote, Ph.D., with the John Snow Award (photo courtesy of Karmanos Cancer Institute).

The awards ceremony took place at the Oct. 26, 2020, virtual APHA meeting.

Dr. Cote, also a professor with the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, is a molecular epidemiologist whose work seeks to understand and reduce cancer disparities. During her acceptance speech, she said, “Cancer surveillance and dissemination of these data are critical to understanding the disease burden in the population, especially in populations that have traditionally been ignored in research, but rarely does surveillance make front-page news. The year 2020 has come with many lessons, and one is that epidemiology, as a field, can no longer afford to be invisible. This award encourages me to push onward, through teaching, mentoring and scholarship, to turn awareness into action and to dismantle structures that have no place in our society, as we move towards health equity.”

The focus of Dr. Cote’s research is the intersection of molecular epidemiology and health disparities. Specifically, she is interested in examining genetic and molecular factors in lung and female cancers that impact disease occurrence or prognosis in underserved populations. Highlights of her previous work include the first report in African Americans of increased risk of lung cancer associated with familial aggregation of lung cancer, and assessment of somatic mutations in endometrial tumors from African American women.

Dr. Cote is the principal investigator of a Komen-funded project describing the risk of breast cancer after a benign breast lesion in African American women and also holds a Komen Graduate Training in Disparities Research grant, which funds three doctoral students in the Cancer Biology program. In addition, she holds a National Cancer Institute R01 grant that examines somatic differences in high grade endometrial cancers from black and white women. Dr. Cote works closely with the Metropolitan Detroit Cancer Surveillance System, an original member of the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results program, and provides her expertise to investigators interested in utilizing this resource. She is a co-investigator of a study of ovarian cancer in African American women, an active member of the Epidemiology of Endometrial Cancer Consortium and the International Lung Cancer Consortium and a Midwest Regional Center Investigator with the Women’s Health Initiative.

The award is named for English physician John Snow, M.D. (1813-1858), considered one of the founders of modern epidemiology. During the historic 1854 cholera outbreak in Soho, London, Dr. Snow examined the distribution of cholera cases and recognized most were near a single water source, the famous Broad Street pump. He removed the handle from the pump and is credited with helping to end the outbreak.

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