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TB Notes Newsletter

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No. 2, 2012


Sandy Althomsons is participating in a 3-month detail in South Sudan with the Doctors Without Borders organization. She’ll be living in a tent and working on an outbreak of Hepatitis E amongst the refugee population living in Maban county. Hepatitis E is a disease that exists in many countries where people live in crowded areas with unhygienic conditions. Sandy’s role will be to provide epidemiological support to the mission in general and, in particular, with a focus on supporting the present epidemiologist in the response. We wish Sandy the best on this endeavor and look forward to her safe and healthy return in early September.

Sara Auld, MD, has accepted a position as a post-doctoral fellow in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Emory University, and her last day here was June 17. In her new role, Sara will have the chance to apply the skills she acquired and refined through her medical and EIS training to pulmonary clinical medicine and research. Sara will spend her first year in clinical training, and then will join the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine as an investigator on an NIH-funded training grant to pursue her research interests. Sara's initial surveillance project evaluated and compared an integrated surveillance system for TB and HIV as well as independent TB and HIV surveillance systems used in South Africa. The findings were presented to local stakeholders, and used to inform the integration of TB and HIV information systems and the provision of TB and HIV services to persons in the country. She also presented the findings at the 43rd World Union Congress on Lung Health in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2012.

Sara also led an Epi-Aid investigating a TB outbreak in a group home in Puerto Rico, and provided guidance for providing ongoing TB education and routine screening for persons associated with and considered for admission to the group home. Results from this investigation that Sara and members of the Surveillance Team conducted were published in MMWR (October 5, 2012).

Sara worked with the Cambodian National TB Program to develop algorithms for TB screening among persons living with HIV/AIDS and for multidrug-resistant TB; as part of this effort, she also developed training materials for TB managers focusing on TB diagnosis. Sara also worked with other CDC divisions and colleagues in Cambodia to determine the potential impact of screening for TB among persons hospitalized with severe acute respiratory infection. This analysis, nearing completion, will help determine the potential role of introducing active TB case finding more broadly among acutely ill, hospitalized patients.

Sara also designed, developed, and carried out an analysis of US National TB Surveillance System data to examine the association between tuberculin skin test (TST) results and clinical characteristics among persons with culture-confirmed TB disease. It was found that TST results may be a marker of clinical site of disease; this suggests that TST may not only serve as a marker of infection but may be relevant to the pathophysiology and clinical presentation of active disease, even among persons without overt immune dysfunction (e.g., persons without HIV). These results suggest that broader incorporation of TST in TB trials and prospective analyses may help us better understand the relationship between the immune system and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Sara presented these findings at the EIS conference in 2013, and she is the lead author on the manuscript that has been submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Bruce Bradley, MPA, Senior Public Health Advisor (PHA), was assigned to the Georgia TB Control Program on June 3, 2013, where he will serve as PHA to the state program. Bruce started his career with CDC/DTBE in 2002 as a Public Health Analyst in the Data Management and Statistics Branch; in addition, he served as the Technical Contact for the CITS II contract and the TIMS trainer. He was one of the TB subject matter experts for the development and design of the NBS TB PAM and the eRVCT. In addition, he was instrumental in assisting national TB programs with the transition from TIMS to NEDSS. Bruce served from 1993-1997 as a regional TB program coordinator in the state of Georgia. In July 2009, Bruce accepted the position with FSEB as the TB Program Manager for Fulton County, Georgia. In his position he managed the TB Program and helped lead the screening of homeless shelters in Fulton County. He was instrumental in helping to implement the 3HP treatment for LTBI in the county and to improve the LTBI completion rate. He also served as co-project coordinator for other CDC funded initiatives and projects (House Ball Community). Bruce holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Georgia College and State University and is the recipient of a Graduate Certificate in Epidemiology from the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. He is a candidate for a Masters of Public Health from Georgia State University.

Deron Burton, MD, has joined the TB/HIV Team of the International Research and Programs Branch within the Division of TB Elimination. Deron will be serving as the Lead for Pediatric TB and TB/HIV for IRPB. Deron comes to IRPB having most recently served as a Medical Epidemiologist and as the Deputy Director for Science for CDC's International Emerging Infections Program, Division of Global Disease Detection and Emergency Response, Center for Global Health in Nairobi, Kenya. Deron joined CDC in 2004 as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer with the Respiratory Disease Branch. He holds degrees in law, medicine, and Public Health and we are excited about adding his broad training and experience to improve our capacity to integrate policy, science, and Public Health practice.

Alyssa Finlay, MD, has joined DTBE/IRPB as the Director for the TB/HIV Research Division at CDC Botswana. Alyssa most recently served as the CDC Madagascar Country Representative and Malaria Advisor for the President's Malaria Initiative, Malaria Branch, Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria from 2008-2013. Alyssa joined CDC in 2003 as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer with IRPB/DTBE. She worked with IRPB for 5 years as an EIS officer, medical officer and later as the TB/HIV Team Lead. Alyssa holds degrees in chemical engineering and medicine. Alyssa and her husband arrived at post in Botswana on June 9, 2013.

Juliana Grant, MD, who has been with SEOIB for 4 years and Lead of Molecular Epidemiology for 3 years, has left DTBE for an exciting job as manager of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention’s (DHAP) HIV/AIDS surveillance program in the California Department of Public Health. Under her leadership, TB Genotyping Information Management system (GIMS) has flourished and early outbreak detection has become a reality. She spearheaded an ambitious yet realistic strategic plan as the Lead for the Molecular Epidemiology Activity (MEA). Her deft leadership enabled SEOIB to smoothly transition activities funded by Aberration Detection TB Leads funding to core work of the branch. She convened end users and key stakeholders from local, state, and national levels to form the Outbreak Detection Working Group and expand outbreak detection efforts. She and her team have been recognized as NCHHSTP, CDC, and private industry honors award recipients for TB GIMS. During her time with SEOIB, Dr. Grant has served in the field to investigate TB clusters, responded to oil spill relief efforts, served in the EOC numerous times, and juggled her responsibilities as the MEA Lead while assisting the Outbreak Investigations Team during critical outbreak investigations. DTBE will be losing a valued and irreplaceable colleague. Dr. Grant’s last day in SEOIB before heading out to Sacramento was June 27.

Rickenya Hodge, Resource Management Specialist/OD, is the worthy recipient of the DTBE Director’s Recognition Award for the third quarter of 2013. Rickenya was nominated for her work in coordinating Division funding actions, providing excellent customer service, and supporting the DTBE ADMO amidst the budgetary turmoil of FY13. Rickenya joined DTBE less than 2 years ago, and quickly became familiar with the Division’s multiple, large and complex contractual and cooperative agreements. Because of her outstanding organizational and communication skills, she helps ensure that DTBE submits funding packages that are complete, error-free, and on-time. She takes the lead on coordinating the Division’s responses to multiple, quick-turnaround requests for funding data, and produces reports that are concise and easily understood. She routinely puts in late hours and comes in on her telework days in order to get the job done. In addition to her exceptional technical skills, Rickenya has an unfailingly positive attitude and excels at customer service. In her relatively short time with the Division, she has developed effective working relationships with staff from across the Division, as well as colleagues at the NCHHSTP, PGO, and FMO levels. Internal and external customers regularly comment on her responsiveness and reliability. Her assistance to the DTBE ADMO has been invaluable during one of the most challenging fiscal years in recent memory. Amidst ever-changing budgetary targets, Rickenya revised and re-revised projections to keep DTBE within budget. She approaches her work with an eye toward continual improvement of both process and quality.

Meredith Howley, MS, has accepted a promotion with at the National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Office of Science after almost 4 years with SEOIB’s Epidemiology Team. During her time with the Epi Team, Meredith did an outstanding job of helping develop the protocol for the Tuberculosis Epidemiologic Studies Consortium (TBESC) core study, Task Order (TO) 1. In addition to working on the protocol for TO 1, Meredith played a major role in the development of the Data Collection Forms and the Data Management System for the study. Also, Meredith was the project coordinator for TO 31 (Evaluation of Interferon Gamma Release Assays in Overseas Immigration Examination of Children in Moderate and High-Burden Countries) and TO 32 (the Current Cost of TB within Urban United States). Currently, she is writing the manuscript describing TO 31 findings. The Epi Team will miss her, and we wish her well in her new job.

Jimmy Keller, MA, DHSc, has transferred from the Florida State TB Program in Tallahassee as a Senior Public Health Advisor to the New York City TB Program effective June 2, 2013. In his new role, Jimmy will be assisting the program with strategic planning and program evaluation. He started his career with CDC in 1991 as a Public Health Associate – Disease Intervention Specialist with the Miami-Dade County Health Department STD Program in Florida. In 1992, he was transferred to the NYC Department of Health STD program, and in 1995, he joined the CDC DTBE and was assigned to the NYC TB Control Program. Since then, Jimmy has held several other positions within DTBE in Detroit MI, Columbus OH, Raleigh NC, and Tallahassee Fl. He holds several degrees, including a BS, MA, and DHSc.

Terry Lo, DrPH, has accepted a position as an Epidemiologist with the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) team within the Division of Global HIV and AIDS. In his new position, Terry will be working on projects in sub-Saharan and southern Africa. His last day here was July 1. As part of the TB/HIV team in IRPB, Terry evaluated the multidrug resistance (MDR) surveillance system in Thailand and identified opportunities to improve the quality and timeliness of reported data. He mentored TB controllers during multiple operations research courses which he taught in both India and Uganda. Also, along with members of the Surveillance Team, Terry authored the 2013 National Trends in Tuberculosis MMWR report; Terry presented data from that report at the 2013 CDC World TB Day observance on March 22. He also published a manuscript describing the prevalence of alcohol abuse and tobacco smoking in rural Western Kenya. Terry also led two Epi-Aids including a national evaluation of TB case finding activities in South Africa and a TB outbreak investigation among persons associated with the illegal transportation and distribution of moonshine in rural Kentucky. Terry is a graduate of UCSD, the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory, and the University of California, Berkeley. Terry has previously worked with the California state department of public health, STOP Polio, and World Health Partners in India. Terry contributed greatly to DTBE's and IRPB's mission, and though the Division is sad to see him leave, we look forward to collaborating with him as a colleague in DGHA.

Melissa Pagaoa is leaving the Epidemiology Team, Surveillance Epidemiology and Outbreak Investigations Branch (SEIOB), DTBE, for a promotion into a new position at the Office of the Public Health Preparedness and Response (OPHPR), Division of State & Local Readiness (DSLR). In her 4 years with us, Melissa oversaw the collection and management of data for Tuberculosis Epidemiologic Studies Consortium (TBESC) Task Order 23, which seeks to identify factors associated with timely diagnosis of TB in US-born African Americans and whites. She has been the lead analyst for two manuscripts on this research study. Melissa also worked on Task Order 30, quantifying the risk of premature death in TB survivors. In addition, she played a major role in the implementation of the new TBESC core study, Task Order 1. We appreciate and celebrate Melissa’s many contributions to TBESC and the Epidemiology Team/SEIOB. We will miss her, but we wish her the best in her new job. June 14 was her last day in DTBE.

Angel Roca transferred from the New York City TB Program as a Senior Public Health Advisor to the headquarters of CDC’s DTBE in Atlanta effective June 2, 2013. Angel started his career in public health in 1980 as a Public Health Advisor VD investigator with the Onondaga County Health Department in Syracuse, New York and a year later with the New York State Department of Health. He first joined CDC in the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCHPHP) as a project officer for the Division of Adolescent and School Health in April 1992. In 1993, he moved to the Center’s Office of the Director to serve as the HIV Liaison, under the matrix management of HIV activities at CDC. In 1996, he was promoted to the Deputy Director of Planning, Evaluation, and Legislation. In 2001, he was transferred to NCCDPHP’s Global Health Promotion where he served as the Deputy Associate Director, working with Ministries of Health to promote non-communicable disease prevention and control, and health promotion activities. In 2007, Angel was assigned to the CDC Regional Office for Central America and Panama (CDC-CAP) in Guatemala City, Guatemala, where he served as Deputy Director/Overseas Business Manager. In 2009, he returned stateside as the Team Lead for the Training and Staff Development Team, Workforce Management Office, Center for Global Health. In 2010, he joined DTBE and was assigned to New York City as Deputy Director for the NYC TB program. Mr. Roca holds a BA in Public Justice, and is working on an MPH at the Emory School of Public Health.

James Shepherd, MD, is now with DTBE/IRPB as the in-country CDC Medical Officer, detailed to the WHO India Country Office. He will serve as a senior TB advisor and provide technical assistance to the Government of India's Revised National TB Control Program. As many of you know, James most recently served as the Associate Director for TB at the Botswana USA collaboration (BOTUSA) in the CDC Botswana Office in Gaborone October 2009 to May 2013.

Padmaja Vempaty, MPH, has accepted a promotion as health scientist at the National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry after 6 years with SEOIB’s Epidemiology Team. During her time as a project coordinator for the Tuberculosis Epidemiologic Studies Consortium (TBESC), Padmaja had major roles in the implementation, data management, and data analysis for two large studies in the first TBESC. Task Order 13 investigated factors associated with acceptance and adherence with and toxicity from treatment for latent TB infection. Task Order 26 evaluated a new method for prioritizing TB genotype cluster investigations and assessed the cost-effectiveness of conducting those investigations. In the new TBESC, Padmaja was the consortium’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) coordinator. She also worked on the consortium’s biobanking initiative and the evaluation of the relative cost-effectiveness of tests for latent TB infection (LTBI). We will miss her, and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.

In Memoriam

Bertrand W. Russell, former CDC TB public health advisor, passed away on May 17, 2013. He was born in 1934 in Louisville, Kentucky. He is survived by his wife of 32 years, Kathleen Russell, and a large extended family. Bert was a member of St. Paul's Catholic Church in Jacksonville Beach, St. Vincent DePaul Society, and a volunteer for Northeast Community Hospice. He served 10 years in the Medical Division of the Kentucky Air National Guard.

After graduating from Bellarmine College in 1957, he began a 30-year career with CDC. He was a Public Health Advisor to the tuberculosis control programs in Tennessee and Florida. After retiring from CDC, he worked 11 years for the Duval County Florida Health Department where he was manager of the Epidemiology Program and later, manager of the Beaches Family Health Center.

Bert loved going home to Louisville with his wife each year to attend the Kentucky Derby. He was commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel by Kentucky Governor Bert Combs in 1963. He was a member of the Jacksonville, Florida, Track Club and for 20 years was an age-group competitor in numerous local, state, and national runs and triathlons, including the Boston Marathon and an International Triathlon in Southern France.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on May 22 in St. Paul's Catholic Church, Jacksonville Beach, Florida. On May 24, a memorial service was held in Kentucky, followed by interment in the St. Aloysius Cemetery in Kentucky. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations be made to St. Vincent DePaul Society, in care of St. Paul's Catholic Church, in Bert's memory.

Louis Salinas, MPA
Louis Salinas, MPA, who served for 22 years as a CDC TB public health advisor, died on July 13, 2013. He had retired from CDC in August 2010 after a distinguished career in public health. In his last position with CDC, Louis served as Deputy Director of the Division of Oral Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Louis, who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas-Austin and holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from California State University-Long Beach, joined CDC in 1974 as a public health advisor. His initial field assignment was San Antonio, Texas. He was subsequently assigned to Miami, FL, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Los Angeles, CA. In January 1986, he transferred to CDC headquarters where he served as a Program Consultant for the Division of Tuberculosis Elimination. His most notable experience during this assignment was as principal liaison to New York City and New York State health departments at the height of their TB and multidrug-resistant TB crisis in the early 1990s. While in DTBE, Louis helped to establish several U.S.-Mexico binational TB programs to improve TB case detection and the continuity of care of these persons. During this period he also had three special assignments, one with the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance in Angola and two with the World Health Organization (WHO) to Brazil and Mexico.

From 1996 through 1998, he served as the Chief of the Program Coordination Unit, National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention, an activity designed to evaluate the feasibility of having cross divisional project officers for the STD, TB, and HIV programs. From 1998 to 2000, he was assigned as the principal liaison to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Washington. In that capacity he provided technical assistance to USAID and USAID missions on global TB issues and the relation to HIV/AIDS, focusing primarily on the Russian Federation, the Newly Independent States (of the former Soviet Union), Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, Kosovo, and Mexico. He also worked as a Country Support Coordinator with CDC’s Global AIDS Program with responsibility for Ethiopia, Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Uganda.

In October 2000, he joined the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s Division of Reproductive Health, where he initially served as Deputy Branch Chief and later as the Associate Director for Management and Operations before becoming the Acting Deputy Division Director.

In June 2003, he became the Deputy Director for the Division of International Health for CDC’s Epidemiology Program Office (EPO). In February 2004, he rejoined the Chronic Disease Center as Deputy Director for the Division of Adolescent and School Health.

Then, in May 2008, he was named Deputy Director of the Division of Oral Health. In May 2009, he was requested by CDC’s Director, Thomas Frieden, to serve as the agency’s Acting Chief of Staff, where he was responsible for managing day-to-day operations of the Office of the Director, helping to resolve issues that crossed organizational lines, determining policy and program objectives, coordinating decision-making processes, and maintaining a focus on the highest priority initiatives. In May 2010, he returned to the Deputy Director position within the Division of Oral Health. In August 2010, he retired from CDC, and continued to share his public health expertise in retirement as a consultant.

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