As a medical technologist at a hospital in Osaka, Japan, Satomi Odani learned from patients that education and behavioral changes are the most powerful keys to disease prevention. In 2014, she left her job and hometown to pursue a graduate degree at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
After earning a master of public health degree in behavioral sciences and health education from Emory University, Odani recently served in the Research Participation Programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The programs provide opportunities for highly motivated students, recent graduates and university faculty to participate in project-specific CDC research, current public health research and developmental activities. Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) manages CDC’s Research Participation Programs.
Odani first met her mentors, Israel Agaku, Ph.D., and Brian Armour, Ph.D., as a student research assistant in the Office of Smoking and Health (OSH) at CDC. She applied to the ORISE-administered program to continue the tobacco research she started as a student. Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States; however, the nation is one of the most successful in the world at reducing tobacco use.
“As an international scholar with a passion for global health, this program is especially beneficial,” she said. “I’m very motivated to work for an international organization and help eliminate tobacco-related preventable deaths and illnesses. The program has provided insight into what policies and interventions work well in the United States that could be replicated on a global scale.”
Specifically, Odani helped design a new national tobacco survey of faculty and staff in dental and allied programs to measure knowledge, attitudes and behavior toward tobacco use, prevention and cessation.
Launched 2018, the survey could help inform collaborative efforts between organizations such as the American Dental Education Association, American Dental Association and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to develop smoking prevention and cessation programs.
Odani met with teammates and her mentors a few times a week to provide status updates, discuss ideas and share best practices. Although her research was collaborative, the program gave her the flexibility to set independent goals and objectives and achieve them at her own pace.
In the less than two years she has been at OSH, Odani has contributed to more than 14 scientific publications, including the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Pediatrics and BMJ Tobacco Control. She has also presented her research at numerous conferences, including the 2017 annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in Atlanta, the 2018 annual meeting of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco in Baltimore, Maryland, and the 2018 World Conference on Tobacco and Health in Cape Town, South Africa.
Altogether, the program allowed Odani to train with researchers and public health practitioners from a variety of backgrounds, in addition to strategizing with federal, local and state partners. Odani improved her scientific writing and speaking skills and learned to navigate the complexities of interagency communication. She also received training in the R statistical programming software.
“I appreciate these precious opportunities, which otherwise are limited for non-U.S. citizens,” said Odani. “I believe they are invaluable to a career as a global public health professional. I’ve really appreciated my time in the ORISE-administered program and would strongly recommend the program to others.”
The program is managed by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) under an agreement between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). ORISE focuses on scientific initiatives including educating the next generation of scientists and is managed for DOE by ORAU.