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Daniel Saman, DrPH, MPH, is a first-generation college graduate and alum of the Doctor of Public Health (’11) and Master of Public Health (’08) in epidemiology programs at the University of Kentucky’s College of Public Health (CPH).

“Coming to CPH, I was motivated by several general reasons to pursue epidemiology and public health,” says Saman. “I had a love for scientific inquiry, a sense of adventure and discovery, especially regarding infectious diseases, and a desire to have a positive impact on people’s health.” 

While at CPH, Saman focused broadly on applying spatial statistics to discovering suicide hot spots in Kentucky, as well as mapping out differences in oral health across the state. In response to what Saman enjoyed most about this experience at CPH, he says: 

“Without question, the meaningful and in-depth conversations with professors, especially with professor Steven Browning, ranging from the application of rigorous methodology to the essential need behind a strong system of public health. I also appreciated being exposed to a variety of research topics, including a workers cohort study, oral health across Kentucky, suicide clusters in Kentucky, and agriculture-related injuries.” 

Since graduation, Saman has made significant impacts in primary and secondary cancer prevention, and diabetes prevention using artificial intelligence-based clinical decision support tools within primary care clinics.  

After completing his education at CPH, Saman began working as a researcher in prevention-based interventions within primary care in northern Minnesota. Over the next nine years, his research focused widely on topics such as clinical decision support, fecal microbiome transplantation, rural health, oral health, and healthcare associated infections.  

After a decade of research, Saman transitioned into a more applied healthcare role and is currently the director and senior advisor of health outcomes at Carle Foundation Hospital, which is part of the Carle Health system, effective November 2021.  

The system currently includes five hospitals with 827 beds, multi-specialty physician group practices with more than 1,000 doctors and advanced practice providers, and health plans including FirstCarolina Care and Health Alliance. 

In this role, Saman provides guidance and support to their CEO and senior leaders regarding evidence-based research, optimal health outcomes frameworks, best practices, and novel ideas to improve the delivery of healthcare (as well as community health) through the lens of probability and statistics. 

To Saman, "healthcare systems (including at Carle) are aware that good health is not domain dependent within the system’s walls. To achieve great community health, the hospital at large must meet people where they are. Often, that requires flexibility and a more personalized community-based approach."

“On the horizon, I see Carle engaging thoughtfully and meaningfully within our communities to improve the health and well-being of not only our immediate patients, but for the entire population,” adds Saman.  

Saman continues, “This translates to ensuring we are applying a probabilistic and non-naive evidence-based rigor to improving community health. Our strongest hedge in this world is our community, so investments in strengthening our community often improve people’s health. And what a pleasure it is for me to provide this evidence-based clarity of thought so Carle can most effectively improve the health of its beloved community.”

Saman offered his advice for the next generation of public health champions and ambassadors:

“In my career (and life), I haven't made the mistake of believing I know it all. The more I learn and the deeper I go, the greater the complexity that emerges. For public health students and professionals to do well, I would recommend starting with what ‘not to do’ first.” 

Saman adds, “This means that statistical and probabilistic rigor precede advocacy. It means that noise is the rule of thumb, and know how to detect noise, and don’t draw conclusions based on it. It also means don’t be an ‘over detector,’ that is, seeing patterns in everything.  Humans are naturally ‘over detectors’ rather than ‘under detectors,’ so it’s something like a muscle you must regularly go to the gym to work out.”  

Saman has appeared on CNN discussing Ebola and Zika viral diseases. He has co-authored 60 peer-reviewed publications in leading health services and medical journals, such as Preventive Medicine, Public Health Reports, and PLoS One.

In addition, Saman has been an investigator on research projects funded by agencies including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Saman also was elected as a Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology (ACE), of which there are only about 200 in the country.

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