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No. 2, 2009


Bisrat K. Abraham, MD, MPH, is joining the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Outbreak Investigations Branch (SEOIB) as the branch’s new EIS Officer. Bisrat grew up in Baltimore and attended Johns Hopkins University for her undergraduate degree.  Before medical school, she served for a year as a U.S. Department of State Fulbright Fellow in Eritrea, where she worked on a research project studing the breastfeeding and weaning practices of mothers. She also visited multiple refugee and internally displaced person camps throughout the country. Bisrat obtained her MPH and MD degrees from Emory University. Most recently, she is in her last year of a 3-year residency in internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

Bruce Bradley, MPA, has joined DTBE’s Field Services and Evaluation Branch as the new CDC Public Health Advisor for Fulton County, Georgia. He started his new field staff position on July 6. Bruce started his career in public health in 1990 as a Disease Intervention Specialist (DIS) outreach worker at the North Central Health District in Macon, Georgia. In 1993, he moved to Rome, Georgia, to become a Regional Outreach Coordinator with the State TB Control Program. In that position, Bruce was responsible for implementing DOT in 52 counties throughout the state in addition to evaluating the programs and providing training for DIS staff in the region. After several years as a regional coordinator, he was assigned to the Fulton County TB Control Program as a supervisor, where he supervised and trained 13 DIS staff. In 1998, Bruce took the position of Health Coordinator with the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness, Adolescent Health Program, where he managed the day-to-day operations of seven health centers, including all outreach activities.

In 2002 Bruce joined CDC/DTBE as a Public Health Analyst in the Data Management and Statistics Branch, where he created weekly exports of incoming TIMS data. He also served as the TIMS trainer, the technical contact for the CITS II contract, and the TB subject matter expert for the development and design of the TB Program Area Module (TB PAM) and the eRVCT. In addition, he has been assisting states with the TIMS-to-NEDSS transition. Bruce has a masters degree in Public Administration from Georgia College and State University and a graduate certificate in epidemiology from the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. He is also in the process of completing his MPH degree at Georgia State University.

Emily Bloss, PhD, has joined the staff of DTBE's International Research and Programs Branch as an Epidemiologist. She has been with the branch as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer since July 2007.  As an EIS officer, she conducted epidemiologic research, monitoring and evaluation, and public health surveillance to inform policy and strengthen TB control efforts. She has worked on a variety of international TB epidemiologic research and program-building projects in Botswana, Peru, Thailand, and Vietnam. Within the United States, she has worked in Mississippi on a TB outbreak investigation and has conducted epidemiologic analyses using the National TB Surveillance System. Prior to joining the EIS program, Emily received a BA from the University of Notre Dame, and an MA in Anthropology and an MPH in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from the University of Illinois in Chicago. She completed her PhD in International Health and Development at Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Emily’s dissertation focused on gendered TB risk factors among nomadic populations in northern Kenya. Before joining CDC, Emily worked with several international and community-based nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Nicaragua conducting operational and epidemiologic research.

Eleanor S. Click, MD, PhD, is joining the International Research and Programs Branch (IRPB) as an EIS officer. Ellie is a graduate of Wellesley College and the Stanford University School of Medicine. She trained in pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle and holds a PhD in genetics from Stanford University.  While serving as a Pediatric AIDS Corps physician with the Baylor College of Medicine International Pediatric AIDS Initiative in Malawi from July 2006 through December 2008, she worked to develop an “Outreach Toolkit” for on-site clinical mentorship in pediatric HIV care in resource-limited settings. Ellie was co-recipient of the Ann E. Dyson Award for Child Advocacy from the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2004 for helping establish a sustainable pediatric resident-run international medical project in El Salvador. She has worked in Thailand, Papua New Guinea, India, El Salvador, and Malawi.

Sha Juan Colbert, PhD, has joined DTBE’s Communications, Education, and Behavioral Studies Branch as a Behavioral Scientist.  Dr. Colbert received an MPH degree from Emory University (2001) in Behavioral Science and Health Education, and a PhD in Public Health (December 2008) from Michigan State University, focusing on Health Behavior and Health Education.  From 2001 to 2005, Dr. Colbert 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 uses).  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 School of Public Health, she was a member of a multidisciplinary 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.  Since completing her doctorate, she has worked as an independent public health consultant.

Beverly DeVoe-Payton has joined the Clinical and Health Systems Research Branch (CHSRB) as the new Deputy Branch Chief. Beverly joins the branch after 14 years in the Field Services and Evaluation Branch (FSEB). Beverly began her public health career in 1987 when she was assigned to the Florida Department of Health as an outreach worker in the migrant community of Immokalee.  A promotion to District TB Program Manager relocated her to Tallahassee, where from 1989 to 1992 she managed the TB program for the Florida Panhandle area. She then served from 1992 to 1995 as outreach coordinator for the Fulton County (Georgia) Department of Health and Wellness TB Program.  From 1995 until this year, Beverly was Director of the Georgia TB Program. Under her leadership, Georgia's state TB program changed from a centralized care model to a decentralized, community-based care approach.  In 1995, Georgia implemented a housing program for homeless TB patients in collaboration with the American Lung Association of the Southeast Region.  The program has become a national model for the provision of housing, incentives, and enablers to ensure TB treatment completion in this high-risk population group. TB completion rates are greater than 90% among those served in this homeless program. Also in 1995, DOT was implemented as the standard of care throughout Georgia, whereupon the rate of completion of treatment increased from less than 80% to 92% in 2007; annual TB morbidity decreased 48%, from a peak of 909 cases in 1991, to 475 in 2008.  During this time, Beverly has also had temporary duty assignments in Wichita, KS, and Memphis, TN, where she helped lead investigations of TB outbreaks among high-risk groups. Beverly has provided outstanding leadership to the Georgia TB program.  We are delighted that she has joined CHSRB, where her strong management skills and extensive programmatic experience will prove invaluable in facilitating the branch's research mission.

LCDR Juliana Grant, MD, MPH, U.S. Public Health Service, is moving from Alaska to join the Outbreak Investigations Team in SEOIB, with a start date of July 20. For the past 2 years, she has served as Alaska's ATSDR Regional Representative working on environmental health around hazardous waste sites. She grew up in New York City and attended the University of Michigan as an undergraduate. After college, she spent a year at CDC in Fort Collins as an Emerging Infectious Disease Laboratory Training Fellow, where she worked on arbovirus transmission and testing. Juliana went to medical school at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and completed an internship in Internal Medicine before moving to San Diego for a residency in Preventive Medicine. While in San Diego, Juliana received an MPH in epidemiology from San Diego State University and worked with the county health department on the then-emerging issue of community-associated MRSA. After residency, Juliana joined the 2005 EIS class and worked on a variety of projects including infectious and chronic disease and environmental health while assigned to the Utah Department of Health. After EIS, Juliana took her most recent position with ATSDR. Juliana and her husband Dan are both looking forward to being someplace where year-round bike commuting doesn't involve studded snow tires.

Heather Alexander Konopka, PhD, has joined the staff of DTBE's International Research and Programs Branch as a Microbiologist.  She has been working with the branch as an ORISE/CDC Foundation Fellow and then as a Senior Service Fellow since 2005.  Prior to coming to CDC, Heather earned a PhD in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from Emory University, and served as an HHS Emerging Leaders Program fellow, completing global health, TB, and diagnostics-related rotational assignments at FDA, NIH, CDC, and the Foundation for the NIH.  As a member of the MDR TB team within IRPB, she works on a variety of laboratory-strengthening activities, spending a large portion of her time collaborating with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) and overseeing the implementation and evaluation of new TB diagnostic assays in high-burden settings.  Currently, she is also pursuing an MPH in Epidemiology at Emory University.

Romel Lacson, MPH, has joined DTBE’s Communications, Education, and Behavioral Studies Branch as a Lead Behavioral Scientist.  Romel has a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior (1996) from the University of South Carolina (USC), and is a candidate for a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Anthropology focusing on Medical Anthropology (expected date of completion is fall 2009 from USC). From 1997 to 1999, Romel was an HIV/AIDS Health Education Consultant with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC) which included development and implementation of evaluation guidance for eight regional HIV prevention community coalitions and 13 SC local health district HIV/AIDS education programs.  From 1999 to 2005, Romel was a Behavioral Scientist in CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Program Evaluation Branch, Intervention Research Team, where he coordinated and monitored activities of HIV/AIDS evaluation projects and studies.  Since 2005, Romel has worked to develop and manage the Amaya Lacson TB Photovoice Project to empower TB-affected communities by creating opportunities for them to contribute to a world free of suffering due to TB and poverty through the use of Photovoice.

Adam J. Langer, DVM, MPH, DACVPM, joined the Outbreak Investigations Team in SEOIB on Monday, July 6. Adam was born and raised in Baltimore and completed a BS in biology from Virginia Tech in 1997. After spending a summer reading Laurie Garrett's A Coming Plague, Adam was inspired to pursue a career in public health. He then attended veterinary school at Oklahoma State University, earning his DVM degree in 2001 and gaining his first taste of work at CDC through the Veterinary Student Elective program. Adam returned home to Baltimore and entered full-time small animal family and emergency/critical care practice for 5 years, during which he attended Johns Hopkins University part-time, completing his MPH in 2005. Adam then joined the 2006 EIS class and was assigned to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, where he investigated a variety of infectious diseases problems throughout the state for 2 years. Following EIS, Adam was accepted to CDC's Preventive Medicine Fellowship and was reassigned to the Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch, in the National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases, for a 1-year practicum where he has pursued several projects related to health policy and management. During the past year, Adam also passed the certifying examination of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. Adam is engaged to Amy Blumensaadt, a native Atlantan, and they live near Chamblee with their two dogs and two cats.

Linda Leary has been selected as the new Public Health Advisor in the Field Services and Evaluation Branch (FSEB). Linda is filling Rita Varga’s old position as the FSEB liaison for the field staff. She officially begins her new assignment on July 19, 2009. Linda started her federal career in 1969 in Washington, DC, performing secretarial duties.  In Washington, she worked for GSA, NASA, and ACTION (formerly Peace Corps and VISTA).  Linda traveled to Atlanta to accept a position as personal assistant to the Regional Director of ACTION at the Atlanta Regional Office.  Eventually, Linda left ACTION and found her way to CDC to work for the Branch Chief of the Metabolic Biochemistry Branch, NCEH.  In 1983, Linda discovered the Division of Tuberculosis and worked as a health technician and data manager on various research projects.  The majority of Linda’s tenure in tuberculosis involved administrative and data management work, and consultation with state and local partners. In 1990, Linda left TB to accept a position in the Special Studies Section, Surveillance Branch, Division of HIV/AIDS, as data manager, only to return to TB in 1993 to work in FSEB.  She has been working as Public Health Analyst with the Program Evaluation Team and has been responsible for the management of ARPE data, qualitative evaluations, coordinating meetings and conferences, working with TB Program Evaluation Network (formerly Evaluation Work Group) and various data management projects. Linda has an Associate degree as Executive Private Secretary from Strayer College, Washington, DC, an Associate degree in business administration from Atlanta Junior College, and a Bachelor’s degree in business administration from Georgia State University.

Nicole Olson has joined the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Outbreak Investigations Branch as an Epidemiologist Assistant summer student.  She is currently in the process of obtaining an MPH degree in epidemiology from Emory University and previously earned a BA degree in anthropology/sociology from Knox College.  During the last school year, she held a work-study position in the Health Services Research and Evaluation Branch in CDC's Division of STD Prevention, working on research investigating the relationship between certain drugs and STDs within a group of privately insured men.

Neha Shah MD, MPH, has joined DTBE’s Field Services and Evaluation Branch as a Field Medical Officer assigned to the Chicago TB program.   She has been with the CDC's Global AIDS Program (GAP) as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer since July 2007.   Prior to joining EIS, Dr. Shah received her MPH from Johns Hopkins University in international health and her MD from New York Medical College.  She completed her internal medicine residency at Boston University with their primary care program.  As an EIS officer, she conducted epidemiologic research, monitoring and evaluation, and public health surveillance to inform policy and strengthen HIV and TB/HIV control efforts.  She has worked in a variety of international settings including Thailand, Vietnam, El Salvador and China and domestically with the Washington DC and Cleveland Departments of Health on HIV and STD-related projects.  She has also worked with the Guatemala Ministry of Health to help initiate and strengthen their TB/HIV surveillance.  Before joining CDC, Neha worked with the American Lung Association domestically in Chicago, as well as internationally in Nigeria conducting malaria research, and in Guatemala and India providing clinical care to underserved populations.

Erika Sigman has joined the MLB Applied Research team as an ORISE Fellow. Erika has been assigned to the Genotyping Activity where she performs molecular screening to determine the relation of human genetic factors to TB pathogenesis. She received her BS degree in Biology from Emory University in 2008 and will begin to pursue her MS degree in Biology at Georgia Tech in the fall. Erika devotes much of her spare time as a volunteer at the Wesley Woods Geriatrics Hospital and the Atlanta Children’s Center.

Frances Tyrrell, MPH, has joined the staff of the Mycobacteriology Laboratory Branch (MLB) as a Microbiologist on the Reference Laboratory Team. She will be tasked with developing TB training programs as part of the Laboratory Capacity Building Activity. In her previous position, she served as Sentinel Laboratory Program Advisor for the Georgia Public Health Laboratory, where she expanded and evaluated laboratory capacity within Georgia to improve the response to potential bioterrorism events. Frances has a strong clinical background with TB, previously holding the position of Clinical Laboratory Scientist for the Georgia Public Health Laboratory. She has also served as a Medical Technologist for the Hospital Consolidated Laboratories-Providence Hospital in Southfield, Michigan. She received her MPH degree in 2006 from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.

Bethany Wexler, MPH, has joined the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Outbreak Investigations Branch as an Epidemiologist Assistant summer student. She recently completed her first year in the doctoral program at the UCLA School of Public Health, specializing in Community Health Sciences and Demography. Bethany received her MPH from Emory's Rollins School of Public Health. She has worked as a graduate researcher at the HOPE Clinic HIV Vaccine Trials Network, and on the Folic Acid Team in the National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities with CDC. During the school year, she works on a project with her advisor using the NHANES database to look at allostatic load and menopausal women.

Jamie White is also a student working as an Epidemiologist Assistant this summer with the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Outbreak Investigations Branch. She is presently in the MPH epidemiology program at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health and earned a BA in Physical Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During the past school year, she held a Research Assistant position with the Emory University Genetics New Born Screening and Metabolic Nutrition Program.  She is currently conducting research for her thesis on reproductive and respiratory health outcomes in male occupational glass blowers. 

Matthew Willis, MD, is joining IRPB as an EIS officer. Matt is an internist coming from the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, where he has been working the past 4 years. Matt grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. After high school he raced bicycles internationally for 6 years before entering Brown University to major in medical anthropology. Before starting medical school at Temple in 1996, Matt spent a year volunteering in health care settings in South Africa and Kenya, where he confirmed an interest in global health. This led him to the Harvard School of Public Health, where he earned his MPH in 2000. A medical student rotation at CDC under Anne Schuchat in 2001 planted the EIS seed. After internship, residency, and a chief year in internal medicine at Cambridge Hospital, Matt moved to the Navajo Area, where he has been working as Director of Ambulatory Care at Fort Defiance Hospital, Navajo Area, since 2007.


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