School of Public Health

Society for Epidemiologic Research Excellence in Education Award named in honor of Professors Thomas Koepsell and Noel Weiss

UW Epi News
Friday, June 22, 2018

The Excellence in Education award given by the Society for Epidemiologic Research (SER) at its annual conference will be named in honor of University of Washington (UW) Department of Epidemiology (Epi) Professor Emeritus Thomas Koepsell and Professor Noel Weiss for their substantial contributions to the field of epidemiology. The announcement of the name change for the annual award was made by Epi Associate Professor and Chair Stephen Hawes at the SER meeting in Baltimore, Maryland on June 22.

The award is being sponsored by the Epi department in honor of Drs. Weiss and Koepsell to recognize educators who exemplify excellence in mentorship, training and/or teaching, and the first “Noel Weiss & Tom Koepsell Award for Excellence in Education” will be named in 2019. Weiss and Koepsell share a long history of dedication to education – both in teaching and advancing the field of epidemiology.

“Drs. Koepsell and Weiss embody the model of teaching and mentorship in the field of epidemiology,” Dr. Hawes said. “They literally wrote the textbook based upon the epidemiology methods course which they co-taught for decades. Over the course of their careers, they have trained hundreds if not thousands of future researchers in epidemiology methods, and their influence in the field as teachers and mentors extends well beyond their direct involvement with students within our own Epi department. Upon announcement of the award being renamed in their honor, the conference room erupted with a spontaneous standing ovation in recognition of their achievements and decades of dedication to the field."

Both Drs. Koepsell and Weiss have devoted their lives to the advancement and education of epidemiology methods. Between the two of them, they have accumulated over 60 years teaching courses on the principles and methods of epidemiology and have more than 1,050 research publications in peer reviewed journals.

Dr. Koepsell has applied epidemiologic research techniques to evaluating health promotion and disease prevention programs. He has nearly three decades of experience in teaching epidemiologic methods at the graduate level and has received three prizes for outstanding teaching, including the UW School of Public Health and Community Medicine Outstanding Teaching Award (1987) and the UW Distinguished Teaching Award (1990). He has conducted research on a wide variety of non-infectious diseases, including injuries, Alzheimer's disease and other neurological conditions, obesity, and arthritis, with an overarching interest in epidemiologic methodology. He was chair of the UW Department of Epidemiology from 1993 to 1998. The American Public Health Association (APHA) honored Dr. Koepsell with the Abraham Lilienfeld Award in 1994. Dr. Koepsell was president of SER from 2002 to 2003.

Dr. Weiss has taught for more than 40 years on the core methods of epidemiology. During this time, Dr. Weiss has mentored hundreds of graduate students, and he received the UW School of Public Health Outstanding Teaching Award in 1992. In 1999, he was the first winner of was the first winner of the UW Landolt Award for Outstanding Graduate Mentor. He received the American Public Health Association Abraham Lilienfeld Award. From 1984-1993, Dr. Weiss served as Chair in the Department of Epidemiology. During his tenure, the Department expanded from 18 faculty to 47.  Dr. Weiss is also a researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and has been there since 1973 (the year he joined the faculty of the UW). His current research focuses on cancer epidemiology and epidemiologic methods.