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TB Notes Newsletter

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No. 1, 2012


Sekai Chideya, MD, has returned to DTBE as a member of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Outbreak Investigations Branch. She has joined the TBESC team as a Medical Epidemiologist, returning to DTBE from the Global AIDS Program, where she had been working on implementation of a medical male circumcision program.  Prior to that, Sekai was a Medical Director at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. During 2005–2007, Sekai served as an EIS Officer with DTBE’s International Research and Programs Branch.

Panayotta Delinois, MS, has joined the Reference Laboratory Team of the Laboratory Branch as an ORISE Fellow. In this capacity she will assist with the expanding Molecular Detection of Drug Resistance service. She earned her MS degree in Microbiology and Immunology from New York Medical College in 2009. Previously, she worked as the TB Program Specialist for the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), where she primarily helped to provide logistical support for the 7th National Conference on Laboratory Aspects of Tuberculosis.

Sonya Garnett, Program Specialist in the Office of the Director, is the worthy recipient of the DTBE Director’s Recognition Award for the first quarter of 2012. Sonya was selected to receive this honor because of her impeccable professionalism, dedication, and work ethic; her outstanding organizational skills; and her exceptional performance, including her willingness to work after hours to go the "extra mile" to anticipate and meet tight and demanding deadlines. In all her roles and interactions, Sonya serves as a role model of excellence. This combination of skills, attributes, and commitment makes her deserving of the Director’s Recognition Award. Congratulations to Sonya for this well-deserved honor.

Paige Gupton, MS, has joined the Laboratory Branch Reference Laboratory Team as an ORISE Fellow. In this capacity she will assist with the expansion of the Molecular Detection of Drug Resistance clinical service. Paige moved to Atlanta from Washington, D.C., where she earned a MS degree in Public Health Microbiology at George Washington University (GW), and worked in a lab as a Research Assistant. Her primary area of research at GW was HIV diagnostics in limited resource settings. Prior to attending GW, Paige worked for NCEZID in the Division of Parasitic Diseases as a Laboratory Technician in the Serology Diagnostics Laboratory.

Alexandra (Alex) Mercante, PhD, has joined the Applied Research Team of the Laboratory Branch as an Associate Service Fellow.  In this capacity, she will be investigating both transcriptional regulation and protein modification to help gain new insights concerning antibiotic resistance mechanisms in Mycobacterium tuberculosis.  Alexandra received her BS degree in Microbiology from Louisiana State University in 2000 and subsequently worked as a research technician in both private industry and academic institution laboratory settings. Recently, she earned a PhD in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from Emory University. Under the guidance of her graduate mentor, Dr. William Shafer, she examined how host factors modulate the molecular mechanisms that regulate antibiotic resistance determinants in Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

Nwabunie Nwana is a first-year student at the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. In 2009, she received her bachelor's degree in biochemistry, chemistry, and environmental studies from Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa. As an undergraduate, she interned with the TB control unit of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Nigeria. Since that time, she has developed a strong interest in the prevention and control of infectious diseases. She is very excited about contributing to the control and eventual eradication of TB, and looks forward to working with FSEB staff.

Chaturia Rouse has joined DTBE in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Outbreak Investigations Branch. She is working on the TBESC team as a public health analyst contractor from Northrop Grumman. Previously Chaturia worked at Boston Medical Center, where she carried out data coding, cleaning, and analysis for the Massachusetts Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral and Treatment (MASBIRT) Program.

Erika Sigman, MS, of the Laboratory Branch (LB) recently transitioned from her position as an ORISE Fellow to an associate Service Fellow. She joined the LB as an ORISE Fellow after graduating from Emory University in 2008. In that position, she worked in the Genotyping Activity, where she performed molecular screening to help determine the relationship of human genetic factors to TB pathogenesis.  After receiving her MS degree in biology from Georgia Institute of Technology in 2011, she was offered and accepted an associate Service Fellow position with the LB. She will help carry out various genotyping activities within the Applied Research Team of the Laboratory Branch.

Caroline Tai has joined the Laboratory Capacity Team of the Laboratory Branch as a Research Assistant as part of the Rollins Practical Experience Program. She will support the team in analyzing data from operational studies to build and maintain laboratory capacity for tuberculosis. Caroline gained laboratory experience from working in the biotech industry in San Diego, California, where she also earned her BS degree in microbiology at the University of California, San Diego. She is currently pursuing an MPH degree in epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University.

Taiwo Talabi, MD, is a second-year student at the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. He graduated in November 2006 with a medical degree from the College of Medicine of the University of Lagos, Nigeria, and has been a practicing physician since graduation. He has been involved in active management and treatment of many infectious diseases, including TB, HIV, and hepatitis. During his time with the Medical Service Team of FSEB, he hopes that he will be able to learn much more and contribute significantly to the success of the team.

Liping Zhu has joined DTBE as a member of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Outbreak Investigations Branch. Liping joined the TBESC team as a scientist data analyst as a Northrop Grumman contractor 4 months ago. Previously, she worked at Emory as a research specialist for about 10 years. She has many years’ experience in data management and analysis.

In Memoriam

ShaJuan Colbert, PhD, MPH, passed away unexpectedly on February 2, 2012. She had worked in the NCHHSTP Office of Health Equity (OHE) from summer 2010 to April 2011. During her time in OHE, ShaJuan made a number of significant contributions to promoting health equity within NCHHSTP.  She led OHE’s efforts on the Social Determinants of Health (SDH) Guidance for Surveillance Systems, the 2010 and 2011 Health Equity Symposia planning, and SDH and health equity awareness slides for NCHHSTP colleagues. In addition, she drafted key documents such as Frequently Asked Questions and a Glossary of Terms for SDH.

Prior to her assignment in OHE, she worked in the NCHHSTP Division of Tuberculosis Elimination (DTBE). ShaJuan joined DTBE’s Communications, Education, and Behavioral Studies Branch in May 2009 as a Behavioral Scientist. Her work in DTBE included planning, developing, implementing, and evaluating behavioral studies, projects, and research. ShaJuan contributed to the Advisory Council for the Elimination of Tuberculosis (ACET) African American Workgroup’s Strategic Plan, facilitating several group discussions with Workgroup members about goals and objectives of the strategic plan. She participated materially in conference calls, protocol reviews, and other tasks related to a HRSA/Minority AIDS Initiative Houseball LTBI Treatment Project with another DTBE branch. She also participated in TB Epidemiologic Studies Consortium Task Order 23, which involved providing technical assistance to the Project Officer, reviewing and revising an interview guide, and participating in interviewer training in New Jersey. In summer 2010, she left DTBE for a detail in OHE.

ShaJuan received an MPH degree from Emory University (2001) in Behavioral Sciences and Health Education. She received a PhD degree in Public Health (December 2008) from Michigan State University, focusing on Health Behavior and Health Education. From 2001 to 2005, she worked with the Michigan Department of Community Health’s HIV/AIDS surveillance unit, where she served as the Project Study Coordinator on CDC-funded projects that included research with HIV-infected persons or persons in HIV behavioral risk groups (including injection drug use). She also served as the HIV Behavioral Surveillance Coordinator for the Michigan Department of Community Health’s HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Unit.  While working as a doctoral student at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, she was a member of a group of researchers funded to focus on the behavioral, genetic, and biological markers of cardiovascular disease and mental health disorders, which also included exploring pathways of other prominent health disparities. After completing her doctorate, she had worked as an independent public health consultant before coming to CDC.

ShaJuan was a friend to many at CDC. Her sincere dedication to and enthusiasm for promoting health and health equity will be greatly missed. She is survived by her husband, Andre Johnson; daughter, Ayanna Johnson; mother, Laverne; father, Vincent; sisters Clarissa and Sonja; and other family members.  An educational fund in her name has been arranged for her daughter and adopted nephews.  At the request of the family, donations can be made to the Dr. ShaJuan Colbert Johnson Foundation.  Checks can be made to her mother, Laverne Colbert, with the notation of “Dr. ShaJuan Colbert Johnson Foundation” in the memo portion of the check and mailed to 6258 Eastbrooke, West Bloomfield MI 48322.

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