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No. 4, 2008

Personnel Notes

Lorna Bozeman, MS, received the DTBE Director’s Recognition Award for the 4th Quarter 2008 (Oct.–Dec.) for her contribution in validating and certifying the outcome data for the TB Trials Consortium’s (TBTC) Study 28. This study had failed to find a statistically significant advantage to a moxifloxacin-based intensive-phase regimen for TB treatment. However, results of two similar studies in South Africa and Brazil did favor the moxifloxacin-based regimen. These conflicting results presented a critical challenge to the consortium’s credibility. In reviewing data on solid vs. liquid culture at African vs. North American clinical sites, Lorna noted discrepancies between reports from the site coordinator and reports obtained directly from the laboratory. She then organized a detailed microbiology source data review, an analysis of discrepancies in culture findings, and a full re-analysis of outcomes. She sent spreadsheets to each site for validation of each culture report by the laboratory; then she and others reviewed these, comparing each validation report from the laboratories with the original site reports. In all, over 4,000 reports were evaluated, but in the end, only 5 (~1%) of 433 outcomes were modified. Thus, the original study findings were confirmed, key reporting errors were corrected and demonstrated to be very few in number, and important microbiologic reporting practices were clarified. Lorna simultaneously played a leading role in the work of the TBTC Microbiology Working Group. Her contributions included collecting information on specific laboratory practices at all sites and determining laboratory capacity to make specific changes for future studies. Lorna’s efforts provided critical support for the credibility of the consortium’s laboratory findings, thus strengthening the foundation of all its work.

Erin Bugenske is one of three Emory work study students who joined the International Research and Programs Branch (IRPB). She is currently pursuing an MPH degree in epidemiology at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health, with a particular interest in infectious disease epidemiology.  Originally from Saginaw, Michigan, she graduated from the University of Florida in 2007 with a BA degree in anthropology and also spent a semester studying Italian language and culture in Florence, Italy.

Deborah Carr has left DTBE and returned to CDC’s Division of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD); she began her new assignment in Austin, TX, on January 18, 2009. As a Public Health Advisor (PHA), her responsibilities will focus on assisting the senior PHA in planning and conducting activities and strategies that will have an impact on the incidence of STDs. Deborah started her public health career in 1991 as a Disease Intervention Specialist (DIS) with the Los Angeles County STD Program. In 2001 she became a Special Projects Coordinator with CDC and was responsible for planning, implementing, and overseeing operations for special STD/HIV screening activities in the Los Angeles County jail; many of these activities were written up and published. In 2006 she joined DTBE and transfered to the Austin/Travis County health department. In this position Deborah was responsible for compiling morbidity reports, including the mid-year and annual progress reports; providing strategic direction relating to performance and quality assurance; promoting best practices for the delivery of care; identifying needs and gaps in services; building strategic alliances among various health department units and community based organizations; creating staff development presentations; and providing TB consultation to public and private entities. She also worked with the chair of the “Stop TB in African American Community” work group, a subcommittee of the Advisory Council for the Elimination of Tuberculosis (ACET). Deborah continues to give back to the community by coaching track and field and is now a USA Track and Field Official. She is also head of the Health Ministry at her church.

Sharoda Dasgupta, B.S., has joined the Field Services and Evaluation Branch (FSEB) as a student intern. She obtained a BS degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2006. She has extensive research experience in the fields of biomaterials, biochemistry, and bioethics. Sharoda is currently working towards an MPH degree in epidemiology through Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. She hopes to utilize her engineering background and the skills she is acquiring in epidemiology to segue into a career in infectious disease control.

Bruce Heath was selected for a Public Health Advisor (PHA) position in DTBE’s Field Services and Evaluation Branch in Atlanta, where he will be working as a program consultant.  He started in his new position on December 22.  Bruce was most recently assigned to the Texas TB program in Austin, Texas, where he worked with binational TB projects along the Texas-Mexico Border.  He has an undergraduate degree in Spanish and a graduate certificate in public health, with a concentration in health education. He began his career with CDC in the Miami STD Prevention Program in 1992 as a Disease Intervention Specialist (DIS). He moved to Fulton County, Georgia, in 1995, continuing to work as a DIS.  In 1999 he took a position with the syphilis elimination program in the Division of STD Prevention at headquarters where he worked with the newly developed Syphilis Rapid Response Teams and other exciting projects. Bruce then moved to the Training and Health Communications Branch in DSTD where he served as a project officer for the National Network of STD/HIV Prevention Training Centers. Prior to joining TB, he was assigned to the Puerto Rico Department of Health STD/HIV Prevention Program as the Senior PHA.

Chrispin Kambili, MD, has joined the Field Services and Evaluation Branch as the new medical officer in New York City. Dr. Kambili replaces Dr. Sonal Munsiff as the Bureau Director for the New York City TB control program. Dr. Kambili received his MD degree from the Columbia University School of Medicine in New York City and a BS degree from Fisk University in Nashville, TN. He trained in internal medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia University Medical Center and completed a fellowship in infectious disease at New York-Presbyterian Hospital & Cornell University Medical College. He is board certified in internal medicine and infectious diseases. Dr. Kambili served as the Bureau of Tuberculosis Control’s medical director from 2000 to 2003. Since then, he has worked in Africa, serving as Field Medical Director in Nairobi, Kenya, for the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. He has also served as a medical director in Schering Plough Corporation’s virology program, where he concentrated on HIV and hepatitis issues. He started on October 12 in his new position.

Amera Khan, MPH, was selected as a Senior Public Health Educator in the Communications, Education, and Behavioral Studies Branch (CEBSB). Amera first came to DTBE and CEBSB as a Health Education Specialist in 2003. In the time since, she has revised and developed science-based TB training and educational materials for both health professionals and persons with or at risk for TB; provided technical assistance to domestic and international partners; served as a principal investigator for a behavioral research project; managed, marketed, and evaluated the TB Education and Training Resources Website; and provided guidance on education and training activities to the TB Regional Training and Medical Consultation Centers (RTMCCs). Prior to coming to DTBE, Amera worked with the Division of Parasitic Diseases as a Health Analyst (2002– 2003), and in the Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases as an ORISE Fellow Health Education Specialist (2000–2002). She has a BS degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an MPH degree in Health Behavior and Health Education from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. In her new position (effective September 28), Amera serves as lead technical advisor for education and training-related issues for the CDC-funded TB RTMCCs; provide leadership, technical assistance, and consultation in TB training and education issues related to program collaboration and service integration across the Center; and serve as lead in the update and development of the National Strategic Plan for Tuberculosis Training and Education.

Marquita Kilgore is an Emory work-study student who has joined the International Research and Programs Branch (IRPB). She is currently a sophomore at Emory majoring in anthropology and human biology with an expected graduation date of May 2011. After completing her BS degree at Emory, she plans to attend medical school and business school in simultaneous pursuit of her MD and MBA degrees.  She has lived in Loganville, Georgia, all of her life. She is most interested in foreign languages and culture, financial planning and investing, African-American studies, and public health.

Nicole Kosacz has joined the Field Services and Evaluation Branch (FSEB) as a student intern. She is a native of Chicago and a recent graduate of the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, where she earned her BS degree in psychology with a minor in anthropology. Currently she is in the first year of the MPH-Epidemiology program at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, where she is taking courses in infectious disease, surveillance, and public health disparities. Nicole will be working with the DTBE Pacific Islands TB elimination team on various activities, including administrative duties associated with the Pacific Island TB Controllers Association (PITCA) annual workshop; surveillance and reporting from the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands; and literature review and analysis of data associated with TB and diabetes.

Michael Marrone has joined FSEB as a student intern. Michael is a first-year student at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, where he is seeking an MPH degree in epidemiology.  He grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and attended Austin College (which is in Sherman, Texas, not in Austin), where he received a BA degree in biology in 2005. While at Austin College, Michael participated in several different internships, including cancer research and HIV/AIDS education in Tanzania. After graduation, he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Kingdom of Swaziland as a community health HIV/AIDS educator. As a volunteer, he spent a significant amount of time working with World Vision on HIV education and awareness projects.  He will be working with Dr. Sundari Mase on a meta-analysis review of the literature on outcomes of surgery for TB.

John Oeltmann, PhD, has returned to DTBE as an epidemiologist on the TB/HIV team in the International Research and Programs Branch.  John received an MEd degree from Vanderbilt University in 1993 and then spent a few years as a high school and middle school teacher before pursuing a degree in public health. In 2002, he received a PhD degree in epidemiology from the University of South Carolina. He came to CDC as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officer in 2003 and was assigned to the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Outbreak Investigations Branch, DTBE. Following EIS, John on stayed with DTBE as an epidemiologist until February 2008. During his 5 years in DTBE, he conducted numerous TB outbreak investigations in both U.S. and international settings, conducted epidemiologic studies that documented rates of childhood TB treatment outcomes in Botswana, evaluated TB screening algorithms used for refugee populations immigrating to the United States, and assessed the association between illicit drug use and TB transmission. From March to August 2008, he worked in the Malaria Branch, Division of Parasitic Diseases; he returned to DTBE on Sept. 2, 2008.

Hannah Oh is one of three Emory work-study students who joined the International Research and Programs Branch (IRPB). She is currently a first-year MPH student at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health studying public nutrition in the Department of Global Health.  She was born in Los Angeles, California, but has spent most of her life in Korea where her parents now live. Hannah graduated from UC Berkeley with a major in immunology (infectious diseases). She is interested in studying the short- and long-term effects of malnutrition in developing countries.  Her career goal is to improve maternal and child health in developing countries.

Michele Pearson, MD, has joined DTBE as a Medical Officer in the International Research and Programs Branch, Infection Control Team. Michele is a Captain in the U.S. Public Health Service. She earned her BA (chemistry) degree at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, and her MD degree at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO. She completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, IL, and is board-certified in Internal Medicine. After her residency, she joined CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service, where she was assigned to the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, then called the Hospital Infections Program (HIP). Dr. Pearson has spent most of her CDC career with that program, where she served as a Medical Epidemiologist and Branch Chief. She also served as Executive Secretary for the DHHS Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee. She has been a consultant to the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the World Health Organization, and she serves on the advisory boards for several national organizations/initiatives. She has served as adjunct faculty in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine and is a Fellow of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. Since joining CDC, her professional activities have included healthcare- associated TB, antimicrobial-resistant infections, latex allergy, and development of evidence-based infection prevention and control guidelines.

Shameer Poonja, MPH, has been promoted and reassigned to Los Angeles, California. Shameer was most recently assigned to the Indiana State TB and Refugee Health Program in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he was involved in all aspects of TB control activities and supported the efforts of the TB Program Director. He was assigned to Indiana in March 2006 in response to several major TB outbreaks in the northeastern counties of the state. Shameer began his CDC career in 2002 with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Bureau of TB Control. There he oversaw the TB Bureau's funded activities with the Department of Homeless Service and HIV Care Administration (Ryan White).  Prior to joining CDC, Shameer coordinated prevention activities for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for 4 years (3 of which were with the Division of TB Prevention and Control). Prior to working in TB, Shameer spent a year with the Refugee and Immigrant Health Program at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health on a CDC-funded research project evaluating the TB screening practices of INS-appointed civil surgeons. Shameer has an MPH degree from Boston University. During the 1990s, he was a Peace Corps volunteer assigned to the Philippines. Shameer has been edging his way westward and made the big jump to Los Angeles TB program on Nov. 9.

Debbie McCune Powell has joined DTBE in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Outbreak Investigations Branch (SEOIB). Debbie has been with the federal government for 16 years. She was with the Georgia National Guard as a Contract Specialist for 9 years, then in 2001 came to CDC. In her first CDC position, she worked in the Procurements and Grants Office (PGO) in the International Branch; after about one year, she transferred to the Construction Branch where she remained until June 2008. She then moved to CDC’s Information Technology Services Office (ITSO), where she worked as a Project Officer until December 2008. Now with the SEOIB, Debbie is working with the Epidemiology Team. Most of her experience has been with government contracts; she hopes to bring her expertise to SEOIB to further enhance communications with PGO. She looks forward to new opportunities and challenges and thinks it is great to be here!

Heidi Soeters, MPH, has joined the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Outbreak Investigations Branch (SEOIB) as a work-study student. Heidi is a second-year Global Epidemiology student at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, with a concentration in infectious diseases. After obtaining her bachelors degree in both Neuroscience & Behavioral Biology and French Studies at Emory University, she was a program associate at the Center for Public Health Preparedness at DeKalb County Board of Health in Atlanta before getting her MPH degree at Rollins. As part of her thesis research, she spent the past summer working at the National Institute for Communicable Disease in Johannesburg, South Africa. Additionally, she was a work study student at CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities last year. Currently, she is working with SEOIB’s Outbreak Investigations team and Molecular Epidemiology Activity on various activities, including developing user-friendly reports of transmission events picked up by the new TB aberration detection system and assisting with linking surveillance and genotyping data for the U.S. Pacific Islands.

Cynthia Taylor joined DTBE on September 15 on a detail to the International Research and Programs Branch. Cynthia officially works in the Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response (COTPER), Office of the Director, Workforce and Career Development Office as a Management and Program Analyst.  From 2002 to 2007, prior to joining COTPER, Ms. Taylor was the Coordinator of the International Experience and Technical Assistance (IETA) training program in the Coordinating Office for Global Health and NCHHSTP. In that position she oversaw all activities and phases of recruitment, selection, training, field assignments and evaluation of the IETA programs operations.  Cynthia is assisting DTBE/IRPB with various administrative and budget-related activities.

Jenny Tegelvik, MPH, a Public Health Prevention Service (PHPS) Prevention Specialist Fellow, is serving her 6-month assignment on evaluation with DTBE’s Program Evaluation team, Field Services and Evaluation Branch (FSEB). Jenny received her MPH degree from the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, in May 2008. In the summer of 2008, she served as a Research Fellow with the National Forum for Collaborative HIV Research and the National Association of State and Territorial AIDs Directors. Jenny was the Program Director for an HIV prevention initiative in Honduras, Central America (2005–2007) for the Global Fund in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). As Program Director, she focused on building program management capacity at the municipal level. Prior to her assignment with UNDP, she also served as a Peace Corps volunteer (2003–2005) and has several years’ experience in program design, training, and leadership development. Jenny graduated with a BS degree in International Relations from Georgetown University in 1998 and speaks Spanish, French, and Swedish. During her assignment with FSEB, Jenny will be working on a joint evaluation project between FSEB and the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Outbreak Investigations Branch (SEOIB) to determine the impact of outbreak investigations in controlling TB outbreaks in the United States.

Vic Tomlinson is the new DTBE Program Consultant for the Mid-Atlantic project sites (City of Baltimore, D.C., Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, West Virginia, Virginia).  Vic took on his new responsibilities starting December 1.  Vic has a long, rich history with DTBE, both as a public health advisor assigned to numerous cities and states and as a DTBE program consultant, during his 27 years with CDC. A big thanks to Al Forbes, Dawn Tuckey, and Regina Gore for helping out over the past 9 months with the Mid-Atlantic projects!


Rita Varga, Public Health Advisor with the Field Services and Evaluation Branch, will be retiring effective February 27, 2009. Rita began her civil service career in February 1986 as a co-op in CDC’s Sexually Transmitted Disease program starting in Indianapolis, IN. Following assignments in Fulton County, GA, Boston, MA, Chicago, IL, and Los Angeles, CA, Rita transferred to DTBE in 1994 with an assignment as the Training Coordinator in New York City, whose TB program expected to have a training site for new public health advisors.  However, the federal hiring freeze implemented by the Clinton administration resulted in the discontinuation of the training center.  Rita continued to work with the NYC PHA cohort until they were well on their way to successful careers. In 1999, Rita transferred to Atlanta as the Training Coordinator for the DTBE Field Services Branch. In addition to those responsibilities, she has worked as the headquarters member for the Field Staff Work Group.  The group is dedicated to helping field staff workers remain up to date about what is happening at the CDC “mother ship.”  Rita has been an active member of the Field Staff Planning Work Group, a center-wide advisory group that coordinates field staff concerns with CCID.  Among her other associations, Rita has been a member of the TB Notes committee and the DTBE awards committee for the last 9 years.  An active member of the Watsonian Society, Rita has been that group’s newsletter editor since 2002. Prior to federal service, Rita was a dedicated science teacher for 14 years in New Jersey, where she taught biology, chemistry, earth science, and physics to high school students. She really enjoyed that but felt she needed to expand her horizons and see the world, or at least a lot of the United States, with CDC. Rita will remain in the Atlanta area since most of her family has scattered from the Philadelphia, PA, homestead.  She plans on having fun meeting with others who share her love of gardening, crafting, shopping, and traveling during the new retirement phase of her life. Rita retires with 23 years of service to CDC.

Jay Varma, MD, who was a member of the International Research and Programs Branch’s field staff, has taken a position as the Chief of CDC’s International Emerging and Infectious Disease Program in China. Jay has been with DTBE since 2003 and served as the Regional Advisor for TB Elimination and Chief of the TB Program at the U.S. CDC Southeast Asia Regional Office, in Bangkok, Thailand. He oversaw a diverse portfolio of public health programs and research in Southeast Asia, including activities related to strengthening the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of TB in HIV-infected patients; conducting surveillance and control of multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB; and expanding laboratory capacity in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos.  Some of the major research activities he worked on included evaluation of new tools for rapid diagnosis of TB and MDR TB, validation of algorithms for TB screening in HIV-infected patients, and epidemiologic evaluations of surveillance and program data.  Jay worked closely with foreign government health officials at the national and provincial level, with multiple divisions at CDC (including the Global AIDS Program, International Emerging Infections Program, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, and Division of Global Migration and Quarantine), and with other technical agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, the World Health Organization country and regional offices, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, and the International Organization for Migration. Jay has made many significant contributions during his tenure in DTBE, and we wish him all of the best in his new position. He reported for duty in China in June 2008.

Kai Young, MPH, received the DTBE Director's Quarterly Recognition Award for the 3rd Quarter 2008 (July-Sept.) for her outstanding commitment to TB elimination program evaluation, and for her leadership and consensus-building skills. Kai led a workgroup consisting of representatives of state, local, and territorial TB programs to validate and standardize performance measures, and developed a monitoring system for tracking progress of program areas toward meeting the TB national and state program objectives. As a result of her leadership and the hard work of the workgroup, the National Tuberculosis Indicator Project (NTIP) was developed and funded by DTBE to provide TB programs with reports to inform them of their progress—based on existing data reported to the DTBE.  This effort will build capacity for program areas to routinely incorporate program evaluation activities into daily operations.  These reports will help programs prioritize prevention and control activities to work toward TB elimination.  Specifically, Kai facilitated extended dialogues between DTBE and state and local partners, and among branches within the Division. Her ability to build consensus among the workgroup members as to how the performance of TB control and prevention activities will be assessed is exceptional. Under Kai’s leadership, all viewpoints were taken into consideration, thus ensuring that the performance of the partners would be accurately measured.  This was a first-time effort in which DTBE reached out to our stakeholders and asked for input in shaping our national objectives.  Kai’s guidance and hard work has strengthened collaboration between DTBE and state and local partners. The result of her effort will reinforce national priorities at the national, state, and local levels; help prioritize the efforts for improvements; and facilitate evidence-based practices among TB control programs.

In Memoriam

Sandy A. Baxley, who served as the Resource Management Specialist in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Outbreak Investigations Branch (SEOIB), passed away on December 13, 2008, after a year-long struggle with cancer. Sandy had worked in the federal government for 33 years, which included 6 years with CDC’s Procurement and Grants Office and 14 years with the Department of Defense at Fort McPherson. Most recently she worked with DTBE’s SEOIB from June 24, 2007, until her retirement on June 17, 2008. During her year in DTBE, she proved herself invaluable in managing all financial matters of the TB Epidemiologic Studies Consortium. Sandy touched many peoples’ lives and will be remembered for her strength, hard work, and willingness to help both co-workers and the many external partners she assisted through the years. She will be missed dearly.

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