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TB Notes Newsletter

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No. 4, 2011

PERSONNEL NOTES

Jamala Best is the newest addition to the Communications, Education, and Behavioral Studies Branch (CEBSB) Web Team, joining Jesse Bradley as a webmaster for DTBE. A contractor with Northrup-Grumman, Jamala comes to CEBSB/DTBE with over 9 years of experience creating and developing material for websites. She received her undergraduate degree (BFA) in Multimedia/Web Design from the Art Institute of Atlanta. In an initial position she held with CDC (2001–2004), she was responsible for a wide variety of administrative and design projects. She has also worked in a freelance capacity as a Creative Design Consultant, creating a wealth of web design and web development products.  This involved projects such as designing print projects, websites, and logos for small businesses; using e-marketing techniques to create successful web products; providing copywriting, art production, design consultation, and information architecture documentation; and an array of additional projects. She returned to CDC as a contractor in 2009, serving as a Senior Web Specialist with responsibility for management of the CDC Radiation Emergencies website, in conjunction with the main CDC website on Emergency Preparedness and Response. From 2010 to 2011 she served as a Web Content Administrator with the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control providing web development and content editing support. More recently, she served as a Web Content Administrator in the CDC Office of the Associate Director for Science, providing a variety of high-level website support for that office. We are pleased to have such a creative and versatile person join the branch and division! Welcome, Jamala!

Willard “Ray” Butler is retiring from CDC after 40 years of distinguished federal service.  Ray began his federal career with the U.S. Air Force. He came to CDC in 1976 from the University of Georgia Public Safety Division, where he had served as the Laboratory Safety Officer. His first CDC assignment was as a microbiologist in the Mycobacteriology Laboratory, located at the Chamblee Campus. He was initially assigned to work in the drug program, where he was first to report on the adverse effects of enrichment supplements on the growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Eventually he became associated with identification methods for the genus. During this time he attended Georgia State University and earned a master’s degree.

Ray became an expert in taxonomy and classification methods for nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM). His development of the novel high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method for identification of mycobacteria in the late 1980s initiated a new era in the field. The rapid method replaced biochemical identification techniques that had been in place at CDC since the 1960s. HPLC quickly became the gold standard for U.S. state public health laboratories for identification of NTM, and in the 1990s a grass roots movement resulted in formation of the HPLC Users Group. Ray was recognized in 1996 by the Association of State and Territorial Public Health Laboratory Directors for his work with the HPLC Users Group for “contributions to the rapid identification of mycobacteria.”  As a research microbiologist, Ray was an instrumental contributor to meetings and participated in many studies, resulting in 150 presentations and publications. He was responsible for characterization and naming of 17 new species of mycobacteria and 1 novel genus within the mycolata category with 2 new species.

Over the last several years, as the laboratory branch transitioned from the Division of AIDS, STD, and TB Laboratory Research within the National Center for Infectious Diseases, first as a division re-organized into the National Center for HIV/AIDS, STD, and TB Prevention, and then to the Center’s Division of Tuberculosis Elimination (DTBE), Ray’s contributions have been invaluable. His experience and expertise have consistently influenced the laboratory’s journey in maintaining a state-of-the-art focus on programmatically relevant, applied public health research. In addition to his scientific contributions, he has continually provided managerial leadership in operational and laboratory systems improvements, including the design and use of building 17 facilities for the laboratory branch. He has co-directed the DTBE laboratory safety program and helped to implement a comprehensive safety infrastructure resulting in CDC-wide recognition. Ray was individually recognized with the CDC and ATSDR Honor Award in 2006 for “exemplary service as Branch Safety Officer.”

Ray will retire after 35 years tenure from the laboratory December 31, 2011. Please feel free to call or drop by to visit and wish him well in his retirement.

Dr. Ken Castro, Director of DTBE, was profiled in a recent issue of the journal Lancet. Entitled, “Kenneth Castro: a public health hero,” the profile describes Dr. Castro’s career, from his early years as an EIS officer to his current position as an international leader in TB control. Joining CDC in 1983 in CDC’s AIDS Division, he made important contributions to understanding how HIV is transmitted. Through that work he learned about TB, eventually deciding to move into that field. He was one of the founding members of the Stop TB Partnership, and has been a leader in other health initiatives as well. “Kenneth Castro: a public health hero.” The Lancet 2011; 378 (9801): 1456.

William Ford has joined the International Research and Programs Branch (IRPB) as an Emory work-study student. He went to East Carolina University for a year, then moved back to his home state of Virginia to attend James Madison University, where he was an honors student. He majored in international affairs and Spanish language and graduated in August 2011. He is currently pursuing an MPH degree at Emory, studying global health and concentrating in infectious diseases. William is new to public health, so his interests are many and varied. Among them are general interests in inequality, socioeconomic determinants of health, and Latin American public health issues. He is also really enjoying his courses in biology and epidemiology. He enjoys spending his free time exploring Atlanta and watching his favorite sport, rugby.

Gloria Gambale is retiring from federal service. Gloria started her federal career in 1987, when she began working for the IRS in the area of administrative support and quality assurance. One of her accomplishments at IRS involved working on the IRS Y2K project.  In 1998, she joined CDC and provided administrative support in the Division of Oral Health, where she worked on both the Healthy People 2000 and Healthy People 2010 projects.

In 2000, she came to work in the Division of Tuberculosis Elimination as a Program Operations Assistant (and later Management and Program Analyst) in the Data Management and Statistics Branch.  Gloria provided critical support for our transition from the DTBE LAN model to ITSO’s centralized model.  In 2009, she moved to the OD in her current position with the Resource Management Team.

Gloria has been our “go-to” person for many things, including processing the paperwork for guest researchers and fellows, invoicing, inventory, the peer review process, and Commissioned Corps personnel issues. But the role she will be happiest to leave behind is that of Division “Blackberry coordinator” and the never-ending challenges that have come along with it. She plans to spend her retirement Blackberry-free.

Gloria’s plans for retirement include travel, working on “tons of hobbies,” doing some renovation, and spending time with her 10 grandchildren.  Her last day with CDC will be December 31, 2011. She will be missed by all; we wish her well!

Linda Leary is retiring after serving 40 years with the federal government. Linda started her federal career in 1969 in Washington, DC, in several secretarial positions.  While in Washington, she worked for GSA, NASA, and ACTION (now AmeriCorps VISTA).  Linda moved to Atlanta to accept a position as personal assistant to the Regional Director of ACTION in the Atlanta Regional Office.  Eventually, Linda left ACTION and found her way to CDC, where she first worked for the Branch Chief of the Metabolic Biochemistry Branch, National Center for Environmental Health.  In 1983, Linda discovered the Division of Tuberculosis Elimination.  Since then she has served in various positions in the tuberculosis division, such as health technician, data manager, and public health analyst, working on numerous research projects.  One such project was the 1989 DTBE national initiative, the HIV-Related TB Project (HRTP), which recognized the lethal co-infection of TB and HIV.

In 1990, Linda left TB to accept a position in the Special Studies Section, Surveillance Branch, Division of HIV/AIDS, as a data manager, only to wander (thankfully) back to TB in 1993. On her return, she came to work in the Field Services Branch.  One of her major activities over the years, which involved her working closely with our state partners, was collecting DTBE national aggregate data for persons on TB preventive therapy.  She was the program consultants’ “go-to” person for analysis of this data, and she would eagerly inform a consultant if a program was tardy in submitting its reports on time.

Over the past couple of years Linda took on a new role that allowed her to focus on DTBE field staff, both medical officers and public health advisors.  She served in the important role of keeping field staff connected to CDC/Atlanta by ensuring they were up to date on all new initiatives within DTBE as well as in our National Center and CDC overall.  She was a wizard at guiding our field staff through the mazes of training courses, required and elective, and regularly reminding all of us of due dates.  Every year, Linda has done a superb job of orchestrating the Field Staff meeting at the annual National TB Conference and ensuring esprit de corps among all of us.

Linda took great pride in her association with the CDC Chapter of Blacks in Government, and in 2010 she ably served as the chapter’s president.  Under her guidance, the chapter was involved in numerous activities, including working on a Habitat for Humanity project, sponsoring several lunch-and-learn sessions, providing recommendations to CDC management officials regarding disparities in agency performance rating results, and serving as a sponsor for the TB Awareness Walk.

Linda will be truly missed in many, many ways, but unquestionably for her positive outlook on everything, and certainly for how she always found an opportunity to mentor many of us along in our careers … sometimes just telling us what we needed to do.  We wish her great enjoyment in her retirement, and most of all, we wish her days filled with fond memories, happiness, and laughter.

David Montgomery joined DTBE as a Public Health Prevention Service Program Fellow on October 11, 2011. He has been assigned to the Field Services and Evaluation Branch (FSEB) under the supervision of Andy Heetderks. Over the past 5 years, David has worked in the field of public health both domestically and internationally. During that time he helped to develop local public health care systems in Southern Sudan, reduce substance abuse within Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Chicago, and develop local language behavior change communication programs to reduce the spread of HIV in rural Zambia. As David’s career progresses, he hopes to be able to design and implement complex national and international health initiatives. While not at work, David likes to be in the great outdoors, constantly learning and enjoying the company of friends and family. Welcome, David!

Vanessa Sweeney, MPH, CHES, has joined FSEB as a Public Health and Prevention Service (PHPS) fellow. Her first 6-month rotation is with the Program Evaluation Team in FSEB. She received her MPH degree from Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in 2008. Her past work experience includes serving as a program manager at state-run behavioral health clinics in New Orleans, LA. While there, she worked as a coordinator of emergency preparedness and substance abuse prevention activities. Vanessa also supervised employees in recovery from addiction and/or mental illness. She was also a member of the agency-wide electronic health record implementation team. Her primary interest is in applying public health principles while working with indigent populations and communities where mental illness and chemical addictions are prevalent. She has presented at various national conferences and was the recipient of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare’s 2009 “Emerging Leader” award. Welcome, Vanessa!

Deanna Tollefson has joined IRPB as an Emory work-study student. She is a second-year MPH student at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health focusing on global environmental health. Deanna chose this concentration because of her interest in alleviating health disparities that stem from social inequity and that are manifested through poor living environments (natural or built). Deanna is interested in strategies that reduce the infectious disease burden in vulnerable populations, and had the opportunity to focus on related projects while working at CARE last year. Deanna first became interested in TB when she spent a few months in rural south India helping a community hospital assess follow-up on the health of treated TB patients.  Besides public health, Deanna enjoys long-distance running, biking, and hiking in the Rockies; exploring new places, especially in Asia; and finding opportunities to practice her Chinese.

Vic Tomlinson is retiring from CDC after 30 years of dedicated service. Vic started his public health career in 1970 with the Virginia Department of Health, working as a TB investigator in the eastern part of Virginia. In 1972, he was hired by CDC as a public health advisor in the Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) program in Washington, D.C.  In 1975, he joined DTBE and served in his first federal assignment as a TB public health advisor in Norristown, PA, followed by an assignment to Boston, MA, in 1977. In the latter assignment, Vic was assigned to the City of Boston, and also served as a liaison to the state TB program, which was located in another part of Boston. Vic then accepted a position as a project officer with the Bureau of Community Health Services in the Regional Office in Philadelphia, 1977–1981. Vic left federal service in 1981 and returned to the State of Virginia, working first in the state’s Certificate of Need program and then in local government as a budget analyst, before returning to CDC, DTBE, in January 1990. During 1990–1992, he was assigned to Missouri’s state health department and served as the program manager for the statewide TB control program. During 1992–1996, Vic had assignments in the Texas Department of Health’s TB control program and in the Louisiana Department of Health in New Orleans. In 1996, he accepted a transfer back to Missouri and again served in the role of the program manager for TB control for most of his tenure there (1996–2003). In addition to his work with TB control, Vic was also asked to accept the dual role of managing the Immunization program and the TB program in Missouri from 1998 to 2003.

In May 2003, Vic came to DTBE headquarters in Atlanta and served as a program consultant in the Field Services and Evaluation Branch (FSEB), working with the Midwestern states initially, and then with the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Kansas, plus Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.  On March 23, 2008, Vic accepted the Senior PHA position (Deputy Chief) in the Clinical and Health Systems Research Branch, and then in May 2009, Vic once again took over the reins as a Program Consultant for the Mid-Atlantic States—North Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, DC, Maryland, Baltimore, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Delaware.

During his years at headquarters Vic acquired a number of titles, but none were more fitting, affectionate, and well-deserved than “the Mayor.”  This honorary title reflects his excellent talent for getting folks in FSEB and the division motivated and excited about any number of issues from the world of TB control or his own personnel passions.  We first became aware of this talent on a very quiet day on the 24th of March 2004.  Vic brought in a cake in observance of World TB Day; he took the stage and pontificated and expounded on the accomplishments of TB control over the past decades, and scolded us for not taking the time to celebrate this occasion every year.  Hence, his next step was to create the TB Awareness Walk, and as we all know, the rest is history.  Thus we want to especially recognize Vic as the founder of the TB Awareness Walk in Atlanta, and all its numerous offspring across the country, and especially for raising the public’s awareness, knowledge, and understanding of tuberculosis; and reminding all of us in DTBE of the great work we do for the Nation.  It has always been Vic’s nature and talent to bring people together for a common cause, to inspire enthusiasm, and to recognize others’ contributions. His friendship and wisdom will be deeply missed by all of us.

Vic will be truly missed not only by all his friends and colleagues here at DTBE, but also most certainly by the staff of all the state and big city projects he has closely worked with over the years.  He has been an all-encompassing mentor to many over the years, and because of his enthusiasm — his esprit de corps — he has made our world an exciting place to be. We wish him “fair winds and following seas” on his retirement, and a great many thanks for a job well done.

Dr. Thuy Trinh has joined IRPB as a Guest Researcher.  She previously worked in the CDC-Vietnam office in Hanoi as the Team Leader for the TB/HIV program and a Medical Research Scientist for the Care and Treatment Division.  In collaboration with the Vietnamese Ministry of Health, she was involved in the development of several new programs, including new TB/HIV programs promoting provider-initiated testing and counseling (PITC) for TB patients, TB screening for HIV patients, infection control in health care settings, capacity building for TB diagnosis among HIV patients, pilot-testing of isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT) for HIV-infected persons, and the provision of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in TB clinics.

Emily Wong has joined IRPB as an Emory work-study student. She is a graduate student of epidemiology at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health. She was born in Memphis, TN, where she also earned her bachelor’s degree in biology at Christian Brothers University. Following graduation, she worked as a research assistant at the National Sun Yat-Sen University in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Since beginning at Emory, Emily has worked as a graduate research assistant in the RSPH Department of Epidemiology and as a summer intern at the Health Research Capacity Strengthening Initiative in Lilongwe, Malawi.

In Memoriam

Phyllis Cunningham, a laboratorian in the New York State Department of Health, died on July 29, 2011. Phyllis served as the supervisor of the Mycobacteriology Laboratory at the Wadsworth Center (the New York State public health laboratory), and had been a valued member of the Division of Infectious Diseases since joining the Wadsworth Center in 2002. She had an impressive clinical microbiology background and made important contributions in the bacteriology, biodefense, and mycobacteriology laboratories.

Phyllis was born in Canada in 1959 and received a BS degree in Laboratory Sciences from the University of Edmonton. She had worked in hospitals in Edmonton; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Amsterdam, New York; and the Wadsworth Center, New York. In addition to her valuable contributions at the Wadsworth Center, she gave her time and energy to a number of worthy causes, including traveling to Haiti to assist with laboratory procedures there.

One of her life aims had been to study for the ministry and, in the summer of 2011, she had taken a leave of absence to attend a ministry-related program in Halifax, Nova Scotia; she died in her sleep on July 28. She will be greatly missed by her friends and colleagues.

The death of Dr. David Sencer was noted previously (TB Notes No. 2, 2011). We also direct readers to the following item by Dr. Jeff Koplan, former director of CDC. He has provided a wonderfully detailed account of Dr. Sencer’s life, character, and achievements, published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

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