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Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology Alumna Receives Prestigious Distinguished Alumni Award

Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology Alumna Receives Prestigious Distinguished Alumni Award


Published: Thursday, November 18, 2021

The Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology and Office of Alumni Affairs awarded the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award to CAPT Julie Erb-Alvarez, a 1997 MPH alumna. Recipients of these prestigious awards are recognized for achieving professional and personal successes, and demonstrating exemplary service to their community and/or the University.

Julie received her MPH in Epidemiology in 1997, and has an impressive career as a public health professional with significant contributions to tribal health and engagement, clinical and social-behavioral research, health communications, disease surveillance, and pandemic response for both COVID and Ebola. As a native Oklahoman, and member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Julie is an outstanding representative of our College and state.

Julie is a Captain in the Commissioned Corp of the US Public Health Service. Since January of 2017 she has served as the Chief of Patient Engagement and Recruitment, Intramural Research, at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. She was recruited to specifically create this office within the NHLBI Division of Intramural Research, and has successfully increased the number and diversity of research participants, as well as developed successful processes and strategies to support targeted patient recruitment. In her role as a Captain within the Public Health Service, Julie was deployed in 2020 to Japan as the Executive Officer for the COVID-19 response team investigating the Diamond Princess cruise ship outbreak. In 2014, she was part of the USPHS response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Julie is clearly a leader and critical team member in these responses, and was honored for her service with numerous awards. Both of these missions also supported scholarly research and data that contributed in meaningful ways to public health policy and decision-making.

Julie’s nearly 25 years of public health service demonstrate her commitment at the local, tribal, national and global levels. It’s unusual for a public health professional to have the breadth and depth of experience detailed in her CV. From her work in Oklahoma at the Tribal Epidemiology Center and Cherokee Nation, to her international experiences in Palau, West Africa and Japan, and finally her leadership role within NHLBI/NIH, Julie has worked on some of the most urgent chronic disease issues as well as emerging infectious diseases and pandemics. Each of her professional roles has included a focus on health disparities and/or social justice. Most notably her current role within the NHLBI as Chief of Patient Engagement and Recruitment focuses on increasing diversity of clinical research participants. Her impact in these roles is clearly demonstrated by the long list of accomplishments, publications, presentations and awards noted in her CV.

Julie’s CV includes a long list of honors and awards, further demonstrating her distinguished career and noteworthy accomplishments. In 2014, the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology recognized Julie with the Special Contributions Award. This award honored Julie for her participation in the teaching activities of the Department (guest lectures and student preceptor) and research collaboration with faculty and staff in the Department.

Julie routinely gives back to her tribal community through participation in community meetings and events, and making presentations to groups such as Community Health Workers. She is an active member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and is a Capitol City Cherokee Community Member. Soon after receiving her MPH, Julie became a mentor to BSE students and active collaborator with BSE faculty. As Director of Cancer Programs at the Cherokee Nation, Julie initiated collaborative projects to address disparities in cancer screening and enhance the capacity for screening and diagnosis within the tribe. Her service on both the Cherokee Nation and IHS IRBs is notable, and having personally worked with her in both these roles, I can attest to her high level of professionalism and unique perspective as both a tribal member and public health professional.

During her time at the Tribal Epidemiology Center, Julie became adjunct faculty within BSE. This was the result of her commitment to mentoring students through their MPH practicum, and enhancing student learning through guest lectures in several BSE courses. She has continued to publish with BSE faculty, including Drs. Wendelboe, Janitz, Williams, Martinez, and Campbell. The Department is also working with Julie to identify a date for her to present some of her work during a BSE seminar.

 Julie is an outstanding alumnus and her list of accomplishments and honors speak for themselves.

Congrats, Julie! We are so proud to call you our alumna!