Saint Charles Preparatory School student Allan Joseph won a $35,000 college scholarship in the Young Epidemiology Scholars (YES) Competition, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and administered by the College Board. From more than 560 entrants nationwide, Joseph was one of only 60 high school students selected to present their projects to a panel of epidemiologists at the competition in Washington D.C.
Joseph based his project – “A Multi-Sport Epidemiologic Comparison of ACL Injuries in High School Athletics” -- on a database that collects information from certified athletic trainers at over 100 high schools across the nation. According to the YES Competition, his study is the largest national study of high school athletic anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries ever conducted. Joseph found that athletes were eight times more likely to be injured during competition than during practice and that the highest risk sport for ACL injury was football for boys and soccer or basketball for girls. He also found that in sports played by both boys and girls, girls were eight times more likely than boys to suffer an ACL injury, confirming the results of other studies. Joseph’s study included recommendations that coaches and trainers be made aware of the most high risk activities, enforce better officiating to minimize injury and add exercises that strengthen the muscles around the knee to provide greater stability.
Dawn Comstock, PhD, Investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy in The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and a faculty member of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, mentored Joseph on his project as a result of his participation in the “Mechanisms of Human Health and Disease” class at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The class is taught by Joe Schultz in Business Process Improvement at Nationwide Children’s and is designed for high school students who excel in science, offering students the opportunity to discuss college level content, examine disease states, explore career options and enhance skills to gain a competitive edge.
Joseph will next be participating in a summer internship with Loren E. Wold, PhD, Principal Investigator in the Center for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research in The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s and a faculty member of The Ohio State University College of Medicine. He will be working on a project funded by the American Heart Association to understand the mechanisms of air pollution-induced cardiovascular dysfunction in diabetics.
The YES Competition is designed to spur students’ interest in the field of public health, specifically epidemiology, which explores patterns of illness and injury within populations with the goal of developing methods for prevention, control and treatment to improve health.