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Biostatistics and Epidemiology

Faculty Profile

  • George Rhoads, MD, MPH

  • Professor Emeritus

  • Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology

  • CV

Coronary disease; HDL cholesterol; Lp(a); chorionic villus sampling; preterm birth; childhood lead exposure; cancer; diabetes; epidemiological methods

Dr. Rhoads is a graduate of Haverford College and Harvard Medical School and completed residency training in Internal Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and in Preventive Medicine at the University of Hawaii, where he also earned an MPH. He has had a long career studying the occurrence, causes and management of non-infectious diseases including 13 years in Hawaii investigating the causes of heart disease in Japanese migrants, 7 years as Chief of the Epidemiology Branch at the National institute of Child Health and Human Development, and 29 years as Professor of Epidemiology at Rutgers. For five years he served as Interim Dean at the Rutgers School of Public Health.

Research Interests
Scientists need to address unanswered questions, but it is also useful to study unquestioned answers. Low-level lead exposure has been blamed for behavior problems and deficits in intelligence in young children at much lower blood levels than we used to believe, but it is notable that the extraordinary 90% decrease in blood lead levels has not been accompanied by recognized improvements in these or in other areas.  Why? In nearly all large series of births, educated women will have fewer preterm deliveries than uneducated women;  but the substantial increase in the education of women over the past 2-3 decades has not had any notable effect on the excessive frequency of preterm birth in the U.S. Why? The 60-70% fall in U.S. heart disease mortality rates since the 1960's peak has been attributed to high tech interventions, but at least recently, it appears that the proportional heart disease mortality decline is just as large in persons who have never been hospitalized with heart disease as those that have been in the hospital and have had the opportunity to benefit from cardiac interventions.  Why?

Research Highlights

Dr. Rhoads published the first major paper identifying serum HDL cholesterol as a protective risk factor for myocardial infarction (MI) and influential papers on serum Lp(a) lipoprotein and moderate alcohol consumption as risk and protective factors for MI, respectively. The study of the safety of chorionic villus sampling was one of two early papers demonstrating that this approach to prenatal diagnosis was followed by more spontaneous abortions than was amniocentesis and contributed to a measured approach to the adoption of this otherwise exciting technology.  The case-control study showing that PSA screening did not reduce mortality from prostate cancer in the US preceded the results of the large, NCI-sponsored randomized trial and extended its conclusion to the general population outside of trial participants. He chaired the steering committee and supervised one of the four clinical centers for the NIEHS-sponsored trial of chelation therapy for lead-exposed children, which showed that this treatment was not helpful for 12-30 month-old children with blood leads under 45 ug/dl, which resulted in the widespread abandonment of such misuse. More recently his trial demonstrating the safety of withholding blood transfusion in surgical hip fracture patients until hemoglobin fell to 8 g/dL has promoted more conservative transfusion practices in surgical patients.

Select Publications
Santorelli, M., Steinberg, M., Hirshfield, K., Rhoads, G., Bandera, E., Lin, Y., Demissie, K. (2016) "Effects of breast cancer on chronic disease medication adherence among older women.", Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety Vol. 25

Santorelli, M., Hirshfield, K., Steinberg, M., Rhoads, G., Lin, Y., Demissie, K. (2016) "Hormonal therapy for breast cancer and diabetes incidence among postmenopausal women.", Annals of Epidemiology Vol. 26

George, P., Chandwani, S., Gabel, M., Ambrosone, C., Rhoads, G., Bandera, E., Demissie, K. (2015) "Diagnosis and surgical delays in African American and white women with early-stage breast cancer.", Journal of Women's Health Vol. 24

Chandwani, S., George, P., Azu, M., Bandera, E., Ambrosone, C., Rhoads, G., Demissie, K. (2014) "Role of preoperative magnetic resonance imaging in the surgical management of early-stage breast cancer.", Annals of Surgical Oncology Vol. 21

Qiu, H., Rhoads, G., Berlin, J., Marcella, S., Demissie, K. (2013) "Initial metformin or sulphonylurea exposure and cancer occurrence among patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.", Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism Vol. 15

Marcella, S., David, A., Ohman-Strickland, P., Carson, J., Rhoads, G. (2012) "Statin use and fatal prostate cancer: a matched case-control study.", Cancer Vol. 118

Rhoads, G., Dain, M., Zhang, Q., Kennedy, L. (2011) "Two-year glycaemic control and healthcare expenditures following initiation of insulin glargine versus neutral protamine Hagedorn insulin in type 2 diabetes.", Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism Vol. 13

Carson , J., Terrin , M., Noveck , H., Sanders , D., Chaitman , B., Rhoads , G., Nemo , G., Dragert , K., Beaupre , L., Hildebrand , K., Macaulay , W., Lewis , C., Cook , D., Dobbin , G., Zakriya , K., Apple , F., Horney , R., Magaziner , J., FOCUS, I. (2011) " Liberal or restrictive transfusion in high-risk patients after hip surgery", The New England Journal of Medicine Vol. 29

Rhoads, G., Kosiborod, M., Nesto, R., Fonseca, V., Lu, S., Zhang, Q., Foody, J. (2009) "Comparison of incidence of acute myocardial infarction in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus following initiation of neutral protamine Hagedorn insulin versus insulin glargine.", The American Journal of Cardiology Vol. 104

Rhoads, G., Orsini, L., Crown, W., Wang, S., Getahun, D., Zhang, Q. (2005) "Contribution of hypoglycemia to medical care expenditures and short-term disability in employees with diabetes.", Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Vol. 47

Rogan , W., Salganik , M., Dietrich , K., Ware , J., Radcliffe , J., Chisholm , J., Jones , R., Ragan , B., Rhoads , G. (2001) "Effect of chelation therapy on the neuropsychological and behavioral development of lead-exposed children after school entry", Pediatrics Vol. 114

Rhoads, G., Jackson, L., Schlesselman, S., de la Cruz, F., Desnick, R., Golbus, M., Ledbetter, D., Lubs, H., Mahoney, M., Pergament, E. (1989) "The safety and efficacy of chorionic villus sampling for early prenatal diagnosis of cytogenetic abnormalities.", The New England Journal of Medicine Vol. 320

Glober, G., Rhoads, G., Liu, F., Kagan, A. (1985) "The effect of partial gastrectomy on lipoproteins and other characteristics.", Journal of Chronic Diseases Vol. 38

Scholarly Activities
Chair, Maternal Fetal Medicine and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Network Advisory Committee, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, (1991)

Chair, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Network Advisory Committee, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH (1997)

Chair, Steering Committee, NIEHS Treatment of Lead-exposed Children’s (TLC) Study (1993)

Board of Editors, American Journal of Epidemiology (2008)

Chair, CDC Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention (2008)

Best Environmental Epidemiology Paper - ISEE (2014) - This ISEE annual award for the best environmental epidemiology paper published in a peer-reviewed journal aims to recognize excellence in the field of environmental epidemiology and encourage the publication of outstanding papers.

Abraham Lilienfeld Award - American Public Health Association Epidemiology Section (2008) - The Abraham Lilienfeld Award recognizes excellence in the teaching of epidemiology during the course of a career.

Dennis J. Sullivan Award - New Jersey Public Health Association (2003) - The New Jersey Public Health Association's Highest Award. Established in 1976 and named after Dennis J. Sullivan who was a health officer who dedicated his life to improving the public health of New Jersey.

Gallo Award for Outstanding Cancer Research - Cancer Institute of New Jersey (2001) - Gallo Award for outstanding cancer research.

President's Award - New Jersey Public Health Association (1996) - Recognizes public health champions and individuals for their outstanding contributions to the cause of health of the public in New Jersey.

NIH Director's Award - National Institutes of Health (1987) - Part of the High-Risk, High-Reward Research program, the award supports scientists with outstanding records of creativity pursuing new research directions to develop pioneering approaches to major challenges in biomedical and behavioral research.

Equal Employment Opportunity Award - Nat’l Inst of Child Health and Human Development, NIH (1984) - This award recognizes contributions made to the field.

Chancellor's Award with Distinctive Merit - University of Hawaii (1982) - Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Service honors staff members who demonstrate outstanding work performance, service and leadership.