Clinical Associate Professor for NYU's College of Global Public Health; Deputy Director for the Center for Drug Use and HIV Research at the NYU College of Nursing; Faculty Affiliate for the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies (CHIBPS)
Christopher Columbus. Neil Armstrong. Mick Jagger. Danielle Ompad. Wait...Mick Jagger?
All explorers, discoverers, travelers and game changers. "Danie" is a Clinical Associate Professor for NYU's College of Global Public Health, Deputy Director for the Center for Drug Use and HIV Research at the NYU College of Nursing as well as a Faculty affiliate for at the, Center for Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies (CHIBPS). She is an epidemiologist with extensive experience in the design, conduct and analysis of community-based cross-sectional and prospective studies focusing illicit drug use, risky sexual behavior, and adult access to vaccines in urban settings.
Or, as she enthusiastically describes her focus: "sex and drugs."
Hailing from the Aloha state of Hawai'i, Danie was often called niele by her father and aunties - which she thought was a derivation of her Hawaiian name, Kaniela - but which actually means "nosy, curious, and inquisitive." She has traveled to 34 countries, where along the way she discovered her great love of epidemiology.
Since 2013, Danie has contributed significantly as a mentor and faculty member in Ukraine for the New York State International Training and Research Program (NYS-ITRP), which is funded by NIH's Fogarty International Center (PI Dehovitz, SUNY Downstate). It is through this program that she has become a mentor to two students from Ukraine and one from Russia that are completing an MS at SUNY Albany.
Through her work on a research project supported through NYS-ITRP, she serves as a consultant to a cohort study of people who inject drugs (PWIDs) in 12 Ukrainian cities (including cities in occupied Crimea and Eastern Ukraine). Danie also serves on the faculty there on writing and research workshops aimed at building research capacity in Ukraine.
Working with the AIDS Alliance Ukraine and Ukrainian Institute on Public Health Policy, she is analyzing data from more than 300,000 PWIDs serviced by harm reduction programs throughout Ukraine to describe harm reduction utilization patterns with a two-part latent class model. These analyses aim to help the NGOs in order to optimize service delivery in the context of shrinking budgets.
Her favorite study to date explores how heroin users initiate and sustain heroin cessation because a great deal of epidemiology deals with failure but this study deals with success-successfully ending heroin use.
When asked about the message that she wants to send to students, she smiles and replies, "I want them to be excited about public health research methods because I'm excited about it.
Being a researcher means that you are always asking questions, always curious. I have turned my natural curiosity into something productive."
Dr. Ompad completed her B.S. in Biology at Bowie State University and her M.H.S. and Ph.D. in infectious disease epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health.