• Ralph Waldo Emerson




    Dr. Salemi




    I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.


    I have a demonstrated record of collaborative research, scholarly publication, teaching and advising, and participation in public health organizations and professional associations.


    I have amassed a substantial and versatile proficiency in database development, data linkage, management, and analysis, program and systems evaluation, community engagement, and information dissemination.   


    I am a passionate public health professional committed to solving problems and creating conditions that enable people to lead healthy, productive lives.



    Sucker of Life's Marrow


    My history is derived from the cultural basket of Tampa's Cuban and Italian ancestry. As a third generation Tampa native, I was born into a family with rich cultural traditions.


    I have become a feverish trailblazer who embraces nature, sports, and an active lifestyle (marathons...yes please!), and am a proud vegetarian committed to a healthy life and a sustainable, humane food system.


    I'm dedicated and high-intensity, but am really a fun-loving character who doesn't take himself too seriously most of the time, and who feeds off of human interactions. 


    Most importantly, I am a lucky man who has been blessed with a beautiful wife, loving parents, and remarkable friends.


    The introductory years of my life would be shaped, not by my hard-working parents, but by my abuela Estella. This sixty year-old Cuban woman, a mere friend of the family, practically raised me from a twelve week-old newborn to a grade school youngster. To her I owe the very fabric of my character; benevolence, honesty, the pursuit of knowledge and interaction with others. Albeit early in my life, these tenets would serve to build my integrity and moral fabric. My parents have always provided the unconditional love and support I needed to excel; however, an often tumultuous life made me come to the realization that not every day in life proceeds according to plan; life has its surprises, so I learned to seize each day in pursuit of my goals. Similarly, I learned to become independent, analytical, and eager to discover my role in life.

    Tutelage in high school and college would serve as the impetus, and subsequently the driving force for unearthing my passion for knowledge and appeal to sports and fitness. Working and volunteering in the community fostered my affection for people, both friends and strangers, and my yearning to be a part of their lives. Progressively, the thought of and my desire to become a physician grew. I began to guide my education, employment, and spare time towards investigation of everything in a physicians world, from the seemingly chaotic medical hodgepodge in the ER to the ever-criticized managed care establishment. The lure of medicine culminated in my application and acceptance to the University of South Florida (USF) Morsani College of Medicine in 2002. However, after immense reflection and despite what I believed to be a strong passion to employ individualized patient care to treat disease and illness, I came to the self-realization that life as a physician would not best achieve my career and personal objectives. Despite being the single most difficult decision of my young life, hindsight and my discovery of the realm of public health have convinced me that withdrawing from medical school was the correct path for me to take.


    Following my withdrawal, it was a most unique employment experience with the American Cancer Society that changed my life. For over twelve years (until late 2014), I lived, yes lived, at the Benjamin Mendick Hope Lodge on USFs campus, among cancer patients and their loved ones. I served as the resident Night Manager at this gorgeous facility, erected to provide free housing to cancer patients while undergoing treatment. I yearned to inject warmth, compassion, and genuine fun into the lodge environment, which ensured that we lessen emotional burden for our patients and caregivers. At the lodge I experienced miracles and a benevolence and compassion is lacking in the world in which we live. It kept me grounded, appreciative, and optimistic about the future.

    And then I embarked on my career in epidemiology, the scientific cornerstone of public health. In my years as an epidemiologist for the USF Birth Defects Surveillance Program, chair of both the National Birth Defects Prevention Network’s Data Committee and Surveillance Guidelines and Standards Committee, and in my role on a 3-year, federally-funded R01 on comparative effectiveness research (CER), I have amassed a substantial and versatile proficiency in database development, as well as data linkage, management, and analysis. I also have experience with community engagement activities, specifically leveraging a multiple-criteria decision-making model to select and address a disparity issue of concern to the community within the maternal and child health populations in a socio-economically disadvantaged setting. I have published or have in-press over 60 peer-reviewed scientific articles (updated June 2016), most focusing on evaluation of surveillance programs and data systems, or on important technological and methodological issues in epidemiology. I have taught or co-taught Epidemiology Methods, Computer Applications for Public Health Researchers, and Public Health Database Management at the USF College of Public Health. In 2014, I began working as an Assistant Professor for the Baylor College of Medicine.

    I love being challenged, competing, teaching, learning, and experiencing life. I am blessed to have the woman of my dreams, Jennifer, as my wife. Albeit abbreviated and encapsulated, this is who I am - a compassionate, upright, intelligent, and devoted student, husband, and individual, eager to pursue his passion and be an outstanding credit to his profession.


    Come see what I do

    Curriculum vitae (CV)

    My education, professional experience, teaching and mentorship, service activities, skills, and interests

    Last updated June 2016




    This CV is interactive!


    I've placed hyperlinks throughout the document to facilitate navigation to universities, organizations, societies, and professional and social profiles.


    Each published paper that has already been listed in PubMed also has a link that takes you directly there!


    A sample of some of my recent papers designed to advance knowledge and improve health


    Just click on the paper's image to view the paper in PubMed!


    You can also see all of my peer-reviewed publications in PubMed by clicking here!

    ****** NEW! from March 2016 ******


    Infant Outcomes After Elective
    Early-Term Delivery Compared With
    Expectant Management

    Salemi JL, Pathak EB, Salihu HM

    Obstetrics and Gynecology


    We compared the risk of neonatal morbidity and infant mortality between elective early-term deliveries and those expectantly managed and delivered at 39 weeks of gestation or greater. To do so, we conducted a population-based retrospective cohort study of 675,302 singleton infants born alive at 37–44 weeks of gestation from 2005 to 2009 in more than 125 birthing facilities in Florida.



    When compared with infants expectantly managed and delivered at 39–40 weeks of gestation, those delivered after elective induction at 37–38 weeks of gestation did not have increased odds of neonatal respiratory morbidity, sepsis, or NICU admission but did experience slightly higher odds of feeding difficulty (odds ratio 1.18, 99% confidence interval 1.02–
    1.36). In contrast, infants delivered by elective cesarean at 37–38 weeks of gestation had 13–66% increased odds of adverse outcomes. Survival experiences were similar when comparing early inductions and early cesarean deliveries with the expectant management group.


    A SAS® Macro to Compare Structure and Data Across Multiple Datasets

    Salemi JL

    Southeast SAS Users Group, Coder's Corner


    This was a fun technical paper to write as part of a SAS® conference at which I presented. It describes the development of a macro that can be used to compare any number of datasets at the dataset, variable, and value (of each variable) levels. Macro parameters through which the user can control which comparisons are performed/reported as well as the appearance of the generated “comparison report” are discussed, and use of the macro is demonstrated using two case studies that leverage publicly-available data.


    Evaluating Difficult Decisions in Public Health Surveillance: Striking the Right Balance between Timeliness and Completeness

    Salemi JL, Tanner JP, Anjohrin SB, Rutkowski R, Correia JA, Watkins SM, Kirby RS

    Journal of Registry Management


    The Florida Birth Defects Registry (FBDR)—one of the largest population-based state registries in the United States—faces challenges with timeliness, as evidenced by its 18-month lag time. The goal of this study was to determine if the timeliness of the FBDR could be improved without significantly reducing the completeness of birth defect ascertainment.



    Improving timeliness had a small impact on completeness of ascertainment. Overall, compiling the FBDR with only 6 quarters of Florida Agency for Health Care Administration data (as opposed to 8 quarters) would improve timeliness by approximately 6 months, resulting in a registry that is 99.4% complete.

    The Accuracy of Hospital Discharge Diagnosis Codes for Major Birth Defects: Evaluation of a Statewide Registry with Passive Case Ascertainment

    Salemi JL, Tanner JP, Sampat D, Anjohrin SB, Correia JA, Watkins SM, Kirby RS

    Journal of Public Health Management and Practice


    Our goal was to estimate the overall and defect-specific accuracy of Florida Birth Defects Registry (FBDR) data, describe reasons for false-positive diagnoses, and evaluate the impact of statewide case confirmation on frequencies and prevalence estimates.



    The FBDR’s overall positive predictive value was 93.3% (95% confidence interval, 92.7-93.8); however, there was variation in accuracy across defects, with positive predictive values ranging from 96.0% for gastroschisis to 54.4% for reduction deformities of the lower limb. Most infants with false-positive diagnoses had some type of birth defect that was incorrectly documented or coded. 

    Enhancing Clinical Content and Race/Ethnicity Data in Statewide Hospital Administrative Databases: Obstacles Encountered, Strategies Adopted, and Lessons Learned

    Pine M, Kowlessar N, Salemi JL, Miyamura J, Zingmond D, Stone N, Schindler J

    Health Services Research


    There were eight grant teams that received and used Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality infrastructure development research grants (R01) to enhance the clinical content of and improve race/ethnicity identifiers in statewide all-payer hospital administrative databases.



    This paper details obstacles encountered, lessons learned, and both successful and unsuccessful strategies adopted by grantees as they aimed to improve the clinical content and race/ethnicity/language data in their states’ hospital-based, encounter-level databases.

    A Practical Approach for Calculating Reliable Cost estimates from Observational Data: Application to Cost-Effectiveness Analysis in Maternal and Child Health

    Salemi JL, Comins M, Chandler KC, Mogos MF, Salihu HM

    Applied Health Economics and Health Policy


    The objectives of this paper were to 1) describe a practical approach for calculating cost estimates from hospital charges in discharge data using publicly available hospital cost reports, and 2) assess the impact of using
    different methods for cost estimation in maternal and child health (MCH) studies by conducting economic analyses on gestational diabetes (GDM) and pre-pregnancy overweight/obesity.



    Our refined approach will be valuable to researchers interested in incorporating more valid estimates of cost into databases with linked hospital discharge files.

    Creation and Evaluation of a Multi-layered Maternal and Child Health Database for Comparative Effectiveness Research

    Salemi JL, Tanner JP, Bailey M, Mbah AK, Salihu HM

    Journal of Registry Management


    The primary aims of this paper were to 1) describe, in detail, the creation of a clinically enhanced multipurpose maternal and child health administrative dataset; 2) evaluate the dataset by comparing maternal and infant characteristics among linked and unlinked records; and 3) discuss the potential biases that need to be considered if using the database for CER or other public health surveillance/research purposes. Our findings underscore the importance of evaluating routinely collected health data and increasing clarity regarding the strengths and limitations of linked electronic data sources. The database created has been of immense utility to researchers, health planners, and policy makers as well as other stakeholders interested in MCH outcome studies.


    Transformative Use of an Improved All-Payer Hospital Discharge Data Infrastructure for Community-Based Participatory Research: A Sustainability Pathway

    Salemi JL, Salinas-Miranda AA, Wilson RE, Salihu HM

    Health Services Research


    In this paper, we sought to describe the use of a clinically enhanced maternal and child health (MCH) database to strengthen community-engaged research activities, and to support the sustainability of data infrastructure initiatives.



    A federal data infrastructure award resulted in the creation of an MCH database in which over 92 percent of all birth certificate records for infants born between 1998 and 2009 were linked to maternal and infant hospital encounter-level data. The population-based, longitudinal database was used to supplement data collected from focus groups and community surveys with epidemiological and health care cost data on important MCH disparity issues in the target community. Data were used to facilitate a community-driven, decision-making process in which the most important priorities for intervention were identified.

    A Comparison of Two Surveillance Strategies for Selected Birth Defects in Florida

    Salemi JL, Tanner JP, Kennedy S, Block S, Bailey M, Correia JA, Watkins SM, Kirby RS

    Public Health Reports


    This was the first paper among a desired series of three to investigate the three most important aspects of data quality for a surveillance program: 1) completeness, 2) accuracy, and 3) timeliness. 



    We linked data from two independent birth defects surveillance systems with different case-finding methods in an overlapping geographic area to assess Florida’s suveillance of birth defects (e.g., neural tube defects, orofacial clefts, gastroschisis/omphalocele, and chromosomal defects), focusing on sensitivity and completeness of ascertainment measures.


    For the defects under study, the FBDR captured nearly nine of every 10 infants born with selected birth defects. However, the FBDR’s ability to identify specific defects was both more limited and defect dependent with
    widely varying defect-specific sensitivities.

    Maternal Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C Infection and Neonatal Neurological Outcomes

    Salemi JL, Whiteman VE, August EM, Chandler K, Mbah AK, Salihu HM

    Journal of Viral Hepatitis


    In this study, we examined the associations between maternal hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) infection status and selected infant neurological outcomes diagnosed at birth. We conducted a population-based, retrospective cohort study on over one million singleton live births in Florida from 1998 to 2009.



    The risk of an adverse neurological outcome was higher in infants born to mothers with hepatitis viral infection (7.2% for HCV, 5.0% for HBV), compared with infants of hepatitis virus-free mothers (4.2%).


    This paper was featured in a Healio Hepatalogy article.

    Perinatal Outcomes and Hospital Costs in Gastroschisis Based on Gestational Age at Delivery

    Cain MA, Salemi JL, Tanner JP, Mogos MF, Kirby RS, Whiteman VE, Salihu HM

    Obstetrics and Gynecology


    The timing of delivery of a gastroschisis-affected pregnancy has been controversial. In this paper, we investigated the association between gestational age at delivery and perinatal outcomes among gastroschisis-affected pregnancies that result in live birth. 



    In pregnancies complicated by gastroschisis, and with no other known major indications, birth at early term or later term gestation, when compared with delivery before 37 weeks of gestation, is associated with
    improved perinatal outcomes and lower medical costs.

    Maternal Nativity as a Risk Factor for Gastroschisis: A Population-Based Study

    Salemi JL, Pierre M, Tanner JP, Kornosky JL, Hauser KW, Kirby RS, Carver JD

    Birth Defects Research, Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology


    Despite its increasing prevalence, the etiology of gastroschisis
    remains largely unexplained.



    We found that maternal race/ethnicity and nativity were significantly associated with the risk of delivering an infant with gastroschisis.
    Compared with non-Hispanic white women, non-Hispanic black women had the lowest risk of delivering an infant with gastroschisis, followed by Hispanic women. Women born outside the United States were significantly less likely than U.S.-born women to deliver an infant with gastroschisis.

    Mortality due to congenital heart defects among infants, children, and adults, United States, 1999-2005

    Gilboa SM, Salemi JL, Nembhard WN, Fixler DE, Correa A



    The aims of the study were to examine recent temporal trends in mortality resulting from CHD. We found that CHD mortality continued to decline during the study period among both children and adults; however, differences between race-ethnicities persisted.



    A large proportion of CHD-related mortality occurred during infancy, although significant CHD mortality occurred during adulthood, indicating the need for adult CHD specialty management.

    Assessing the Economic Impact of Paternal Involvement: A Comparison of the Generalized Linear Model Versus Decision Analysis Trees

    Salihu HM, Salemi JL, Nash MC, Chandler K, Mbah AK, Alio AP

    Maternal and Child Health Journal


    Various methodological approaches have been used in
    cost minimization and cost effectiveness analyses. We sought to illustrate a methodological comparison of decision analysis modeling and generalized linear modeling (GLM) techniques using a case study that assesses the cost-effectiveness of potential father involvement interventions during pregnancy among births in Florida from 1998–2009.



    Both analytic approaches estimate significantly higher per-infant costs for father uninvolved pregnancies (decision analysis model: $1,827, GLM:
    $1,139). Healthcare costs could be significantly reduced through
    enhanced father involvement during pregnancy

    Maternal Pre-Pregnancy Body Mass Index and Risk of Selected Birth Defects: Evidence of a Dose-Response Relationship

    Block SR, Watkins SM, Salemi JL, Rutkowski R, Tanner JP, Correia JA, Kirby RS

    Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology


    Literature on maternal obesity and birth defects is complex and inconsistent. Our goal was to assess and quantify the association
    between specific congenital anomalies and maternal pre-pregnancy BMI, leveraging data from a large, multi-year, population-based surveillance system.



    Our results provide evidence of an increasing risk of birth defect-affected pregnancy with increasing pre-pregnancy obesity, with risk increasing with increasing BMI, even among obese women.

    Mortality in First 5 Years in Infants with Functional Single Ventricle Born in Texas, 1996 to 2003

    Fixler DE, Nembhard WN, Salemi JL, Ethen MK, Canfield MA



    Infants with functional single ventricle have a high risk of death during the early years of life. The purpose of this population-based study was to estimate 5-year survival in infants with functional single ventricle, to define factors associated with survival, and to estimate improvement in outcome.



    In addition to describe survival and factors associated with survival, we demonstrated significant improvement in overall 5-year survival, particularly in cases of hypoplastic left heart syndrome and single ventricle

    Developing a Database Management System to Support Birth Defects Surveillance in Florida

    Salemi JL, Hauser KW, Tanner JP, Sampat D, Correia JA, Watkins SM, Kirby RS

    Journal of Registry Management


    The value of any public health surveillance program is derived from the ways in which data are managed and used to improve the public’s health. Although birth defects surveillance programs vary in their case volume, budgets, staff, and objectives, the capacity to operate efficiently and maximize resources remains critical to long-term survival. In this paper, we describe the process by which our surveillance system’s database evolved into a DBMS capable of managing transmission of project data from multiple sources, tracking abstractor time during record reviews, offering tools for defect coding and case classification, and providing reports to users.


    The Relative Contribution of Data Sources to a Birth Defects Registry Utilizing Passive Multisource Ascertainment Methods: Does a Smaller Birth Defects Case Ascertainment Net Lead to Overall or Disproportionate Loss?

    Salemi JL, Tanner JP, Block S, Bailey M, Correia JA, Watkins SM, Kirby RS

    Journal of Registry Management


    Like many state birth defects programs, the Florida Birth Defects Registry has faced diminishing funding and resources that may restrict the registry to hospital discharge data. Despite its long title, this is a great paper in which we conducted an evaluation to quantify the potential under-ascertainment to the FBDR resulting from loss of specific data sources, and to determine if there would be a disproportionate loss of cases by sociodemographic and perinatal characteristics.


    Dietary Consumption of Antioxidant Nutrients and Risk of Incident Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia

    Siegel EM, Salemi JL, Villa LL, Ferenczy A, Franco EL, Giuliano AR

    Gynecologic Oncology


    A paper I really enjoyed doing from my days in cancer research. 



    Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women
    worldwide. Though a nested case-control study, we observed that frequent consumption of fruits high in antioxidant nutrients appears to be associated with reduced risk of incident squamous intraepithelial lesions (SIL, a precursor to cancer) among Brazilian women. The mechanism by which increased fruits and vegetables or dietary intake of antioxidants might delay the onset of HPV-associated SIL has not been clearly elucidated.


    Several years ago, I created EpiTableCalcs for some basic 2x2 table calculations

    to get students interested in one of the introductory principles in epidemiology.


    Check out the cheesy promo video below with the fancy elevator music.


    Download the app for free from here if you want a test drive!

    This app will make you a more sensitive, specific human being ;-)


    I make a cameo in the start of the 2010 San Francisco Half Marathon

    this is the happiest I would be all race amid the rolling hills


    Professional (and perhaps not so professional) notariety

    Our study investigating elective early-term deliveries appears on the front page of the Houston Chronicle.

    Our study investigating elective early-term deliveries appears on the front page of the Houston Chronicle.

    Our study with the CDC investigating increasing rates of gastroschisis appears on the front page of the Houston Chronicle.

    Our study with the CDC investigating increasing rates of gastroschisis appears on the front page of the Houston Chronicle.

    A beautiful tribute article by my home university

    One of the very few times growing up I actually had a picture that made it in the newspaper

    Chosen to represent Hillsborough County in Sports Illustrated featuring hometown heroes Tony and Bertha Saladino

    Interestingly, the cover of this SI issue featured Joe Montana's retirement...


    Got ideas? Want to Collaborate? Let's talk.









    Jason's profile








    Dr. J




    Collaborate with me


    Google Scholar


    Recent Pubs



    Feel free to leave me a message!