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No. 3, 2011

PERSONNEL NOTES

Regina Bess, Training Specialist in the Communications, Education, and Behavioral Studies Branch (CEBSB), has left the division for another position with CDC. Regina has been offered and accepted the position of Health Communication Specialist in the Scientific Education and Professional Development Program Office, Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Science (OSELS/SEPDPO), effective August 15. As much as we do not want to lose Regina as a valuable member of DTBE, we support the opportunity for her to take on this new challenge.

Regina first came to DTBE in 1992 as a Visual Information Specialist (VIS). She left DTBE in 1996 after accepting a position in ATSDR, but returned in 2000. In 2003, Regina applied and interviewed for and was hired as a Health Education Specialist / Training Specialist in CEBSB, taking on a new role and further developing her knowledge and skills in TB education, training, and communication. Most recently, Regina has been pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree, with expected completion in December 2011. We will miss Regina very much – besides the formidable talents she has shared with us, she brightens every room she enters with her wonderful smile and her never-met-a-stranger attitude. Good luck, Regina!

Scott Cope, BS, has joined the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Outbreak Investigations Branch (SEOIB) as a first-year graduate student from Emory University. Scott graduated from Samford University in Birmingham, AL, this past May with a BS degree in Biology and a minor in Bioinformatics. Seeking an MSPH degree in Epidemiology from the Rollins School of Public Health, Scott is a part of RSPH’s Practical Experience program that allows students to work part-time each semester with various public health venues across the Atlanta area. His interests in the public health field include infectious diseases, food and waterborne illnesses, Geographical Information Systems (GIS), and global health. As a former member of the Samford Cross-Country and Track team, his interests outside of public health include competing in road races and triathlons. Welcome, Scott!

Tracie Gardner, MS, PhD, recently joined the Molecular Epidemiology Activity in SEOIB. Tracie completed her master’s and PhD degrees at the University of Texas Health Science Center – School of Public Health; her PhD dissertation focused on pulmonary Mycobacterium avium. She then joined the faculty at the Baylor College of Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Tracie came to CDC as an EIS Officer in 2008 and was assigned to the Alaska Department of Health. While in Alaska, Tracie assisted DTBE with a multi-state TB outbreak investigation and worked on various public health projects involving pandemic H1N1 influenza, campylobacter, gonorrhea, and occupational injury surveillance. After EIS, Tracie moved to Atlanta to work with the Global Immunizations Division and the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine. Tracie is an avid cyclist, swimmer, and runner, and joined three other DTBE staff on two triathlons this summer!

Kristin Hake, RN, joined the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Outbreak Investigations Branch as a Rollins Opportunity Student on September 9, 2011. She will be working with TBESC project coordinators to prepare study databases for the consortium’s database repository. 

Kristin received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Georgia State University in December 2003 and went to work at Emory University Hospital Midtown, caring for cardiovascular and thoracic surgery patients in the surgical ICU and surgery step-down unit.  Last year, she cut back her hours to one shift a week and enrolled in the MPH program at Emory to fulfill a long-held goal to become an epidemiologist. She expects to graduate in May with a concentration in global epidemiology.

Christine Ho, MD, MPH, has joined DTBE headquarters as an FSEB medical officer. She transferred from the San Francisco TB control program, where she had been a field medical officer since 2007. In San Francisco, she was responsible for the supervision and restructuring of contact investigation activities and for introducing and propagating blood-based interferon-gamma release assays for TB testing into the targeted community health clinics and testing sites. Her clinically related activities included supervising medical trainees, consulting for community providers, and seeing TB patients. Her background includes bachelor degrees with honors in biophysics and art at UC Berkeley, and a medical degree from UC San Francisco. She was board certified in internal medicine in 1996 and was recently recertified in 2006. After completing her internship and residency in primary care internal medicine at UC San Francisco, Christine stayed on as faculty in the Division of General Internal Medicine. There she started the nascent primary care residency program at the Mount Zion site, developing the outpatient curriculum and clinical rotations, as well as developing a faculty-resident partnership model at the new practice site. She then worked for 5 years as a primary care physician at Asian Health Services, a nationally renowned community health clinic that serves Asian primarily non-English speaking patients. She instituted the first community-based case conference series there, which has been published and replicated in the SF area. She also worked as a TB clinician at the San Francisco TB clinic during that time. In 2004, Christine obtained an MPH degree in epidemiology from UC Berkeley, and then went on to work with Dr. Art Reingold at the California Emerging Infections Program. She served as the project clinician for multiple projects including the Unexplained Pneumonia Project, Unexplained Deaths Project, and the California Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) Surveillance Project. She also conducted an investigation of deaths secondary to C. sordellii in young women through retrospective death certificate review and molecular assays.

Rickenya Hodge joined DTBE/OD as a Resource Management Specialist on August 29, 2011. She will be working with the Resource Team (in the position previously held by Pat Farah), and will be responsible for managing various key aspects of DTBE’s intramural and extramural budget. Rickenya began her CDC career in 1997 with the Procurement and Grants Office (PGO), Office of the Director. While in PGO, she held positions that allowed her to gain experience in simplified acquisition and Federal assistance.

In 2002 she joined the Public Health Practice Program Office (PHPPHO), Extramural Service Activity, where she served as the Program Manager for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).  In 2005, Rickenya began working in the National Center for Health Marketing, and continued serving as the AAMC Program Manager for 8 years. In addition, she became a Center Extramural Liaison and was responsible for the overall management of several CDC-wide cross-cutting and complex umbrella cooperative agreements, including administrative and procedural direction, policy oversight, and planning, coordination, and program development phases of extramural programs. A few of the cooperative agreements she supported included the CDC Public Health Partners, Academic Partners, Entertainment Education, and National Business Organizations.

In 2010, she joined the Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support (OSTLTS), Technical Assistance Branch (TAB), where she served as the Extramural Liaison for the National Public Health Improvement Initiative (NPHII).  She provided support in the areas of pre- and post-award administration, including financial administration and regulatory guidance for extramural activities.

Rickenya graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Paralegal Studies from Sullivan University in Louisville, Kentucky. Key government experiences prior to her arrival at CDC included serving as a cooperative educational student for the US Army Corps of Engineers and an intern with US Small Business Administration. She is approaching 19 years of Federal service.

Emma Johns has joined SEOIB as a CDC Experience Fellow. She will be working with the Molecular Epidemiology Activity and the Outbreak Investigations Team until the summer of 2012. Emma is between her 3rd and 4th years of medical school at Emory. She completed her undergraduate studies at Rice University, where she majored in International Health. She has also worked at the Aga Khan Foundation in Washington, DC, where she worked on grants management, research, and project development for projects related to international public health, microfinance, and education. Welcome, Emma!

Joan Mangan, BSMT, ASCP, MST, PhD, has been hired as a behavioral scientist on CEBSB’s Education, Training, and Behavioral Studies Team. She comes to the division with more than 10 years’ experience in designing, conducting, monitoring, and evaluating research projects focused on epidemiology, behavioral change, and treatment adherence in relation to TB, asthma, and congestive heart failure. Dr. Mangan received her doctorate at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in Health Education and Health Promotion. She most recently worked at the Southeastern National TB Center, where she was the principal investigator of an American Lung Association social and behavioral research grant designed to develop culturally salient messages to facilitate TB treatment adherence among foreign-born patients. Additionally, Dr. Mangan led the study coordination for the Florida site of the CDC TB Epidemiologic Studies Consortium Task Order 25, Examining Tuberculosis Mortality in the United States. Dr. Mangan also has over 9 years of experience working in and managing clinical and research laboratories. Welcome, Joan!

Suzanne Marks, MPH, MA, of DTBE’s Clinical Research Branch, is the worthy recipient of the DTBE Director’s Recognition Award for the fourth quarter of 2011. Suzanne was selected to receive this honor because of the exceptional quality of her work and productivity over the past year. During this time Suzanne has served as the principal investigator and project officer for:

  1. TBESC Task Order 27: Determining the Programmatic Costs and Benefits of Using a Nucleic Acid Amplification (NAA) Assay for TB Diagnosis Within the United States
  2. TBESC Task Order 28: Treatment Practices, Outcomes and Cost of Multidrug-Resistant (MDR TB) and Extensively Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (XDR TB) in the United States
  3. TBESC Task Order 29: Improving Testing for Tuberculosis (TB) and Latent TB Infection (LTBI) for Persons with HIV Infection at HRSA Part C-funded HIV Clinics; and
  4. The California HIV Testing Project.

In addition, Suzanne was lead author on two peer-reviewed articles published in 2011 (IJTLD 2011; 15: 9822-4 and IJTLD 2011; 15: 465-70), and she made four presentations (to a national conference on the homeless, to CSTE, to an NCHHSTP consultation, and to the Health Economics Workgroup).  She reviewed submissions for three journals, and reviewed abstracts submitted to four national or international conferences.  She served on the Publications and Presentations Committee of TB Epidemiologic Studies Consortium, and served as a member on at least six different divisional, center, or departmental work groups. In addition, Suzanne has been relied upon to respond to short-fuse deadline economic analysis requests received through the Division’s policy office. Her willingness to serve, remarkable productivity, and accomplishments reflect outstanding commitment to the core mission of DTBE, NCHHSTP, and CDC. Congratulations to Suzanne for this well-deserved honor!

Sharon McAleer has left the DTBE Web team to take on a new challenge as a Usability Analyst in the Electronic Media Branch, Division of News and Electronic Media, Office of the Associate Director for Communications (OADC), effective August 29.  Sharon joined the DTBE Web team in October 2005 as the Internet webmaster. She has been instrumental in ensuring the usability of the DTBE website. She had the lead for migrating the DTBE website into the new template, conducting usability studies, and formatting the DTBE website using Web best practices. While we are saddened to see Sharon leave the DTBE Web team, we are pleased that she will have the opportunity to share her wealth of knowledge with others at CDC.  In her new position she will be part of the usability community of practice which assists CDC offices and divisions with their usability needs. She will be responsible for ensuring the usability of the CDC mobile website, mobile applications, and the CDC website. She will also conduct usability testing on the new CDC Web content management system.  It has been a pleasure working with Sharon, and we’ll miss her Irish humor and “can do” attitude.

Brittany Moore, MPH, has completed a fellowship in the International Research and Programs Branch (IRPB) and accepted a position as a Health Scientist with the TB/HIV Team. Brittany joined DTBE/IRPB in September 2009 as an Association of Schools of Public Health Global Health Fellow. During her 2-year fellowship, she proved to be an invaluable member of IRPB’s TB/HIV Team. In her new role she will continue to lead and work on projects with the TB/HIV Team while also assisting the OD with international policy and programmatic inquiries. Brittany earned her MPH from the Global Health Department of the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health and dual degrees in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Georgia. Congratulations, Brittany!

Lee Ann Ramsey, SEOIB Deputy Branch Chief, has been selected as the recipient of the DTBE Director’s Recognition Award for the third quarter of 2011. Lee Ann was selected to receive this honor because of her exemplary efforts in providing leadership to SEOIB and DTBE activities, and maximizing performance and increasing morale in SEOIB. Lee Ann has developed multiple activities that resulted in improved communications and morale within the Branch, including publishing a popular monthly Branch newsletter, maintaining a Branch bulletin board, arranging for weekly “office hours” with the Branch Chief, and systematically sharing information from senior staff meetings. She has also implemented a monthly “Blue Ribbon Award” to provide information and recognition of notable contributions by staff, contractors, and students. These initiatives were at the time unique in the Division, but have since led to other branches pursuing similar activities.

Lee Ann is a trained and certified mediator. She has used these skills to help Branch members communicate effectively. These mediation activities have been above and beyond what is normally expected of a deputy branch chief and have led to improved working relationships within the Branch. Additionally, she routinely takes a leadership role within the Division on administrative and management issues, such as use of ILA funds and development of travel policies. She also serves as an administrative and management subject matter expert for Branch and Division personnel, and mentors new team leads in developing leadership and management skills.

In support of the 2010 HHS “Contract to FTE” initiative requiring reduction of contracted positions by 20% by 2012, Lee Ann worked closely with the Atlanta Human Resources Center (AHRC) in early 2011 to convert six branch contract positions into FTEs within 4 months. She proactively analyzed 3 years of contract cost data, identifying positions that, if converted to FTEs, would generate substantial cost savings. After prioritizing these positions based on long-term program needs, and to maximize benefits of the conversion process, she established a new position description merging the work of a vacant FTE with the deliverables of a contract. She explored over 20 different position descriptions and hiring mechanisms, developed numerous personnel packages, and worked tirelessly with management, SBU, and AHRC until the positions were filled, achieving for CDC an annual cost savings of >$200,000. The long hours and expertise she dedicated to the process resulted in the conversion of six highly qualified and capable former contractors who in April 2011 began their tenure as civil servants with the agency. Lee Ann has displayed exemplary leadership in team building, in cost savings, and in maximizing branch performance and morale. Her expertise, attention to detail, and passion for her job are key factors in the success of SEOIB. Congratulations to Lee Ann for this well-deserved honor!

Neha Shah, MD, MPH, DTBE Field Medical Officer, joined the California TB Control Branch as of August 1, 2011. Neha has extensive experience in TB and communicable disease control. She most recently served as the DTBE Field Medical Officer assigned to the Chicago TB program. Prior to her work in DTBE, Dr. Shah was an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer with the CDC Global AIDS Program (GAP) during 2007-2009. 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. Neha has worked in a variety of international settings including Thailand, Vietnam, El Salvador, and China, and domestically with the Washington, DC, and Cleveland, Ohio, health departments 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, Dr. Shah 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. Neha 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 the primary care program.

IN MEMORIAM

Marilyn Hansen, who served as executive director of the American Thoracic Society (ATS) from 1988 until her retirement in 1997, died on March 6 at the age of 79 following a prolonged illness. She was an important contributor to U.S. TB prevention and control. Marilyn led an ATS/CDC effort in collaboration with a number of national medical organizations forming the National Tuberculosis Training Consortia which then developed the original TB Core Curriculum. CDC regularly updates and makes the Core Curriculum available to TB control students across the nation (the most recent version will be available soon). Marilyn also helped the National TB Nurses Coalition and the National Tuberculosis Controllers Association develop the Nurses TB Manual. In an article announcing her retirement that appeared in the ATS News in the summer of 1997, Ms. Hansen said that two of the most gratifying aspects of her tenure with the Society were working closely with members and being a part of the organization’s international growth. As founder of the ATS Assembly on Nursing, she was particularly pleased to see the role of nurses within the Society grow.

Daniel “Dan” Reyna, Director of the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission, died on July 29 of an apparent heart attack; he was 59.  Dan was a champion for improving the health and quality of life of the people of the U.S.-Mexico border region, and worked tirelessly to achieve his goals. Those who had the opportunity to work with Reyna on a regular basis recognized his unique ability to convene federal, state, and local partners from both sides of the border to address critical infectious disease and emergency preparedness issues impacting the region.  In June 2011, Dan coordinated and oversaw the implementation of both the 2011 U.S.-Mexico Border Binational Infectious Disease Conference in El Paso, as well as the 2011 Tuberculosis Consortium in San Diego.  He also attended the 2nd annual U.S./Mexico TB Summit held in conjunction with the National TB Conference in Atlanta.  Dan is also remembered for his presentations at ACET where he represented the special needs and challenges of the border region.

In May 2006, he joined the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission as general manager of the U.S. Section, Office of Global Affairs, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  He also served as director of the New Mexico Office of Border Health, New Mexico Department of Health in Las Cruces from 1993 to 2006. Reyna was a retired colonel from the U.S. Army Reserve, and had served in Afghanistan as the Senior Health Action Officer and Coalition Forces Liaison to multiple national ministries, including the Ministry of Health in 2003 and 2004. Dan will be missed by all, especially by those in the TB community who worked alongside him to advocate for healthy outcomes of binational TB patients.

John Sbarbaro, MD, MPH, passed away on August 30 after several months of declining health. He was a mentor to many in TB control and his influence was felt globally. His obituary states that he obtained his BS degree from St. Mary’s College, his MD degree from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and his MPH degree from Harvard School of Public Health. Between 1965 and 1986, Dr. Sbarbaro served in several capacities with the Denver Department of Health and Hospitals, but primarily as the Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. Starting in 1969, he also held several positions at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, School of Medicine, where he was a professor in the departments of medicine and of preventive medicine. He finished his career there as the Medical Director of University Physicians, Inc. In addition, he retired in 2000 as a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves Medical Corps.

Dr. Sbarbaro was a world-renowned expert in the field of tuberculosis. During his career, he worked with CDC, the World Health Organization, the Institute of Medicine, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other institutes and agencies. He authored over 160 journal articles and 18 book chapters. Dr. Sbarbaro will be greatly missed by the global TB community, where he was deemed not only a leading expert in TB control but a positive force who influenced many in TB control.

Maybelle (Tina) Schein, RN, former DTBE nurse, died on July 2. Tina was highly regarded for her expertise and experience as a TB research nurse, and was DTBE’s resident expert on the tuberculin skin test (TST). Tina had developed and honed the skills for applying and reading the TST and often served as CDC’s spokesperson when it came to training others on the proper administration and reading of the TST. She was very affable and generous with her talents and knowledge – a consummate public health nurse! After her retirement from CDC, Tina moved to Sioux Falls, SD, to be close to family. According to her obituary, she attended nursing training at Methodist Hospital in Mitchell, SD, and graduated from Dakota Wesleyan University with a BS in Nursing in 1961. Early in her career, she taught nursing at Methodist Hospital and at Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls. After leaving Sioux Falls, Schein spent 33 years working for CDC, where her assignments included national and international travel. She worked for 23 years in New York City doing clinical research trials with TB and later HIV. She was proud to be a part of the many advances in clinical management brought about because of that research. She then spent 10 years in the CDC home office in Atlanta where she represented the TB division in therapy trials and national meetings, and was co-founder of the National TB Nursing Network. She retired from CDC in 1995 and returned to SD, and was an RN at the Dougherty Hospice House. In 2008, she received an alumni award from Dakota Wesleyan University for Outstanding Professional Achievement. Memorials may be directed to the Dougherty Hospice House or the United Methodist Church in Hartford. Her obituary may be read at www.heritagesfsd.com. Tina will no doubt be missed by all of us who had the pleasure of knowing her and the privilege to work with her.

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