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Data: The Grand Simplifier

David Dyjack, DrPH, CIH

As I write this column it's August, it's unseasonably hot, I'm ensconsed in Bethesda, and my head is about to explode! The general chemistry class I labored through at Saint Mary's College seems a lifetime ago. What was that definition? A reducing agent ... a compound that loses an electron during a chemical reaction, thus becoming something else in the process. Strong reducing agents easily lose control of their valence electrons, leaving a simpler, more stable atom in its place.

For the last eight hours I've participated in an energetic discussion with a handful of the country's preeminent public health talent. They represent state and local health departments, national membership organizations, academia, and key players in the training and education of the governmental workforce. Who brought us together? The de Beaumont Foundation (www.debeaumont.org). Why? To explore opportunities to advance the use of data, informatics, and other surveillance systems in support of informed decision making.

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Journal of Environmental Health
November 2016
Volume 79, Number 4