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TB Notes Newsletter

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No. 4, 2010


Garry L. Blackwelder joined DTBE’s International Research and Programs Branch (IRPB) as an Engineer/Architect with the Infection Control Team on Nov. 22. A native of Savannah, Georgia, Garry received his undergraduate degree in Architecture from Georgia Tech. After a number of years in private practice, he began a career with CDC in the Engineering Services Office. After 2 years, Garry received a Commission in the Public Health Service and a consulting position in the Center for Infectious Diseases (CID). He also did some graduate work at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health while doing international laboratory design consulting for the Management, Development, and Consultation Branch of CID.

During his tenure at CDC, Garry was responsible for the 20-year Master Plan for Facilities. His career at CDC included a number of accomplishments as a project architect for several new buildings, as well as authoring a number of innovative CDC facilities programs, including the open space planning program, a lease/build construction methodology, and a blanket contract for renovations. Garry was also instrumental in the design and building of smallpox laboratories at CDC and in Russia, in addition to laboratory designs in Jordan and Malawi. After a re-organization at CDC, Garry left to pursue consulting interests in the private sector. After starting and managing three successful private business ventures, he is returning to CDC. Overall, he has been involved in the design/build industry for 35 years.

Patricia (Patty) Blackwelder has joined the Communications, Education, and Behavioral Studies Branch for a few months. She is filling in for Sharon McAleer while Sharon is out on maternity leave, and will likely be here in DTBE until the end of February (or whenever Sharon returns). Patty is a webmaster with Northrop Grumman, and has many years of web experience.

Patty started her career in 2000 as a Junior Programmer, but moved into graphic art and design when she took a position as a production artist at Coca-Cola with the McDonald's group. Following her position at Coca-Cola, she spent 4 years as the print production and layout artist for InterContinental Hotel Group's printed hotel directory, where she managed the graphics, layout, data gathering, and compilation for information on 3,700 hotels into the 600+ page publication.

In 2007, Patty began work as a front-end developer, or webmaster, for Moxie Interactive. A year later she accepted a designer/developer position with EZPrints, a customized gift printing company, where she worked to automate their graphics processes and improve the usability of their websites. Later in 2009, she accepted a position with Northrop Grumman supporting the Applications Development Group.

Working with CDC and Northrop Grumman, Patty has had the pleasure of working with various teams and some wonderful people throughout CDC/OID on a variety of projects, from graphics to web administration to usability to SharePoint.

Heather Duncan, MPH, has accepted the position of Deputy Chief of Staff, CDC. She has been on detail to the CDC Office of the Chief of Staff as acting Deputy Chief of Staff since September 12, 2010. Heather helps manage the day-to-day operations of the Director's office, which includes the Executive Secretariat, Issues Management, Meeting and Advance Planning, and Operations teams.

Heather joined CDC in 1991 as a Public Health Associate I and was assigned to Long Beach, California, where she worked in STD control. In this assignment, she learned many of the core activities of public health: outreach, field investigation, epidemiology, surveillance, and patient and community education.

In 1993, she transferred to New York City where, as a Public Health Associate II, she carried out contact investigations, patient interviews, and active surveillance during the height of the TB resurgence. Through a number of assignments within the New York City Bureau of TB Control, she gained front-line management and supervisory experience.

For 5 years, she served as the senior public health advisor for the Bureau of TB and Refugee Health in Tallahassee, Florida, before relocating to Atlanta in 2005 as a program consultant with DTBE. Most recently, she served as the Associate Director for Management and Operations for DTBE.

Heather has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Furman University and an MPH degree from Tulane University.

Vincent Fears and Scott Jones of FSEB won the NCHHSTP Director's Recognition Award for October. Scott and Vincent were detailed to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) to assist with containing an outbreak of TB that started in one of its facilities in West Virginia.

Scott, senior public health advisor assigned to the State of Alabama Department of Public Health, TB Control Division, was detailed to FBOP in Washington, DC, to assist with containing an outbreak of TB that started in an FBOP facility in West Virginia. He worked collaboratively with this key CDC partner to prioritize efforts that would have an impact on containing this outbreak without the allocation of additional resources, thus preventing the further spread of TB disease in a high-risk setting.

Vincent transitioned into the second half of the assignment and distinguished himself as an outstanding PHA in the performance of his duties. Vincent's follow-up work included a complete review of 2008 - 2009 TB suspects and cases. He assisted with the identification of a possible upward trend in TB cases within the federal correctional system with an annual case rate approximately four times the national case rate (16.3 per 100,000 for 2009). His work highlighted that most of the cases were in foreign-born persons, predominantly from Mexico. A significant proportion of these cases were also sputum smear positive. These data, combined and singularly, indicated significant evidence of continuing transmission with a concomitant need for aggressive continued screening of the inmate population. The data enabled FBOP to target areas for enhanced resource allocation to address the continuing problem.

The results of this work enabled the FBOP to grasp the baseline information required for maintaining an effective TB prevention and control program, and identified key areas of TB program management where methods were recommended for continued program improvement. Jimmy and Vincent's efforts have influenced the practice of a federal agency outside the Department of Health and Human Services.

For their exceptional work containing a TB outbreak, Scott Jones and Vincent Fears were awarded the October NCHHSTP Director's Recognition Award.

Chad Heilig and Kimberly McCarthy were the recipients of the DTBE Director’s Recognition Award for the 4th quarter of 2010. Chad and Kim were selected to receive this honor because of their contributions to changing global policy for TB screening and diagnosis in people with HIV.  During 2006-2010, a study entitled “Improving the Diagnosis of Tuberculosis in HIV-infected Persons” (ID-TB/HIV study) was implemented in Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. This study would not have been possible without Chad’s participation as the co-investigator for methodological and analytic issues and Kim’s participation as the co-investigator from CDC for laboratory issues.  Kim’s work alongside local laboratorians in Southeast Asia resulted in the implementation and standardization of high quality procedures across three countries. Her combination of strong technical skills with warmth and humility made it possible for even very challenging recommendations to be implemented by the staff, who greatly appreciated her assistance.  Chad’s substantial analytic expertise as a collaborator, consideration of multiple methodologic approaches, and extensive communication with all collaborators ensured that the methods used were appropriate and well understood by all the investigators. The outcome was an outstanding analysis that resulted in acceptance of the work to the New England Journal of Medicine. Chad’s subsequent collaboration on a meta-analysis of this and other TB screening studies resulted in changed global policy regarding the TB screening of people with HIV.

This award recognizes Chad and Kim’s commitment to excellence, accomplishment, and ability to work extremely well across branches and across countries. This type of collaborative interdisciplinary work within the Division is essential for accomplishing complex projects while ensuring high quality.

Angel Roca is the new DTBE Senior Public Health Advisor for New York City and Deputy Director of the New York City Health Department Bureau of Tuberculosis Control.  He reports to his new assignment on October 12.

Angel started his career in public health in 1980 as a Public Health Advisor STD investigator, first with the Onondaga County Health Department in Syracuse, New York, and a year later with the New York State Department of Health. In his role, Angel was responsible for assisting local health officials establish disease prevention and control programs. He also interviewed and counseled affected populations, and collected surveillance data. In 1985 he worked with the New York State AIDS Institute as a Public Health Representative III, Senior HIV Counselor, where he established the state’s first HIV (HTLV-III) anonymous testing program in Nassau County.

Angel joined CDC and the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion as a project officer for the Division of Adolescent and School Health in 1992, and a year later moved to the Center’s OD as the HIV liaison under the matrix management of HIV activities at CDC. In 1996 he was promoted to Deputy Director for Planning, Evaluation and Legislation. In 2001 he was transferred to NCCDPHP’s Global Health Promotion where he served as Deputy Associate Director, working with Ministries of Health to promote non-communicable disease prevention and control, and health promotion activities. Later in 2007, he was assigned to the CDC Regional Office for Central America and Panama in Guatemala City, Guatemala, where he served as Deputy Director/ Overseas Business Manager.  In 2009 Angel returned stateside as Team Lead for the Training and Staff Development Team, Workforce Management Office, Center for Global Health. Angel has a BA in Public Justice from the State University College at Oswego, Oswego, New York, and is working on his MPH degree at the Emory School of Public Health.

In Memoriam

Susan Bacheller

Susan Bacheller, a friend and colleague of many in global health and at CDC, died in October. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where Susan worked, posted an eloquent memorial notice about Susan. We include it here.

Our dear colleague and friend, Susan Bacheller, who gave more than 15 years of dedicated service to USAID and global public health, passed away last week. We admired and appreciated her dedication to development, global health, and especially the fight against tuberculosis. A faithful friend, she showed grace and good humor toward everyone.

Susan’s technical leadership, intellect, and spirit inspired those she met and served. She was a driving force in the global effort to improve the health of millions of men, women and children around the world – reflecting the best of USAID’s core values. Hers was a life spent in service to others.

Susan grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and was a registered nurse, later earning a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Master of Arts degree in International Development. Following service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Yemen and Honduras, she joined USAID, working in the Bureau for Global Health, as well as the Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean.

As TB Team Leader, she was instrumental in building up USAID’s tuberculosis portfolio and established a network of colleagues worldwide, who admired and respected her work and dedication. Susan developed the U.S. Government’s Global Tuberculosis Strategy, provided expert support to USAID missions, and was a determined and compassionate ambassador and advocate for global tuberculosis control.

Susan transformed the lives of many more across the globe. Her passion for those who lived on the margins and for fairness was evident to all.

Our hearts go out to her family and friends in this time of great loss. A true public health advocate and professional, Susan will be sorely missed. I hope that you will join me in reflecting on the legacy of our great colleague and friend. She, for her technical leadership, compassion and humor, will be forever remembered.


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