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TB Notes Newsletter

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No. 4, 2013


SEOIB has had several internal changes in staffing, both temporary and permanent, as follows: Lee Ann Ramsey has temporarily departed SEOIB to be the DTBE Acting Associate Director for Management and Operations (ADMO); Brian Sizemore has temporarily departed the Epidemiology Team to be SEOIB Acting Deputy Branch Chief; Anne Marie France has accepted the position of the Molecular Epidemiology Activity Lead; Sandy Althomsons returned to SEOIB after a 3-month mission in South Sudan with Doctors Without Borders and has joined the Outbreak Investigations Team; Tracie Gardner is the new NCHHSTP EIS Lead; and Lauren Lambert has joined the Molecular Epidemiology Activity.

The DTBE Think Tank members are the worthy recipients of the DTBE Director's Quarterly Recognition Award for the first quarter of 2014. Members of the Think Tank are Vernard Green, Chad Heilig, Christine Ho, Amera Khan, Bill MacKenzie, Brittany Moore, Krista Powell, Sarita Shah, and Angela Starks.

In mid-2013, the DTBE Division Director charged the Think Tank with offering “creative, concrete recommendations for cross-cutting activities to carry out DTBE’s mission over the next 3-5 years.” They were to make recommendations for 1) maintaining or restructuring TB control in the United States, 2) defining DTBE’s activities and structure as they relate to global TB control, and 3) addressing future DTBE staffing needs.

The group immediately went to work, putting into place a series of rapid, substantive meetings, and using a comprehensive and highly analytic approach. Over a period of 6 weeks, Think Tank members went above and beyond their regular job duties and conducted intensive research, discussion, and writing of recommendations. This culminated in a 9-part, 26-page document that included recommendations on diverse aspects of the Division’s activities and strategy. The analysis and recommendations fed directly into a senior staff strategic budget planning process and now are being used by three groups planning out the organizational and functional future of DTBE in consideration of potential future budget reductions.

The work of the Think Tank has been extremely well-received by Division leadership and Senior Staff. Think Tank members have provided unique input into the Division’s strategic planning process at a critical juncture. Their ability to rise above parochial concerns and describe long-term objectives has provided a powerful impetus to the Division’s planning and decision making. Congratulations to the DTBE Think Tank for this well-deserved honor.

Warren Benson is retiring from CDC and federal service, effective December 30, 2013, after 43 years of service with the federal government. Warren started his federal career in 1971 as a Data Analyst with the U.S. Navy and joined CDC in 1993 as an Office Automation Clerk with the Division of Reproductive Health. Warren has held several other positions at CDC including a stint within the Division of Adolescent and School Health as a Fiscal Accounting Assistant and finally moving to DTBE in 1999 as an Administrative Officer and Resource Management Specialist. There is a chance that you may unknowingly encounter Warren sometime in the future because Warren is a certified FAA Air Traffic Controller. He may decide to put those skills to use, but for now Warren is looking forward to traveling, fishing, catching up on reading, and spending time with his two dachshunds, Penny and Precious.

RADM Kenneth G. Castro, MD, Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS, Commanding Flag Officer, CDC/ATSDR Commissioned Corps, has been selected to receive The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease North American Region Lifetime Achievement Award. This is a great and well-deserved honor for Ken’s extraordinary contributions to the control, prevention, and eventual elimination of tuberculosis. Ken, who has served as the Director of the Division of Tuberculosis Elimination since 1993, has been on detail as Director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention (DHAP), NCHHSTP, CDC, since August 2013.

On Dec. 16, Dr. Castro announced his decision to vacate the position of Director, DTBE, effective December 31, 2013, and his plans to seek voluntary retirement from the Commissioned Corps near the end of FY 2014. The announcement for the recruitment of a new permanent Director will be made in early 2014. Dr. Castro has served as Director of DTBE for the past 20 years.

Under Dr. Castro’s leadership, we saw the reversal of the 1985-1992 resurgence of TB in the U.S., and the steady downward incidence trends over the past 20 years, achieving the historic lowest incidence of this disease in the U.S. by 2012. DTBE staff produced guidelines to prevent the transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex in healthcare and other congregate settings. DTBE has provided supportive oversight of 62 cooperative agreements (CoAgs) between CDC and states, territories, and several large cities to implement core program functions and continuously evaluate progress. DTBE has also provided programmatic innovation and leadership by initiating the gradual redirection of CoAg resources, starting in 2005, to better address burden of disease and complexity of case management, provide a much-needed safety net for persons afflicted with TB, and most recently introduced performance-based funding incentives as part of the CoAgs. DTBE staff provide, and ensure access to, subject matter expertise and human development capacity through the CDC-funded TB Regional Training and Medical Consultation Centers. This has facilitated access to expert medical consultation and specialty training across the country. There is ongoing collaboration with DGMQ to revise and improve culture-based overseas TB screening and treatment of U.S.-bound immigrants and refugees.

DTBE has supported the implementation and use of universal genotyping of M. tuberculosis strains from persons reported with TB, coupled with the continued provision of national emergency/outbreak response capacity, to investigate and better understand transmission dynamics and thus interrupt those transmission chains. DTBE has also supported the provision of national and supranational reference laboratory diagnostic services, along with the evaluation and implementation of advanced molecular methods for the rapid detection of TB and of drug-resistant strains. This has revolutionized the ability to rapidly detect TB and drug resistance, instead of exclusively relying on solid culture media for a slow-growing pathogen. DTBE has developed and published updated evidence-based guidelines for the use of interferon gamma assays to detect latent TB infection. DTBE has also provided longstanding support of two highly productive epidemiologic and clinical research consortia, thus enabling the implementation of randomized clinical trials which demonstrated the efficacy of once-weekly rifapentine containing regimens in the continuation phase of therapy, the safety and efficacy of a 12-dose regimen for the treatment of persons with latent TB infection, and the need for extended use of isoniazid to prevent TB disease in people infected with HIV. DTBE has also recognized and documented recent unprecedented national shortages in anti-TB drugs and diagnostic tests for latent TB infection. DTBE is now working with partners to seek solutions to these novel problems. And we can point to the fact that partners such as PEPFAR, USAID, WHO, Stop TB Partnership, the UNION, and host countries around the globe rely on our subject-matter expertise to advance our collective understanding of the epidemiologic drivers of TB and use that information to improve our interventions to advance global prevention and control.

Dr. Castro has asked to be placed into a Senior Medical Officer position at the Center until the effective date of his Commissioned Corps retirement near the end of FY 2014, to enable the recruitment of a permanent Director, DTBE, who – in turn – can make selections for the various positions that are presently occupied on an interim/acting basis.

Sekai Chideya, a Medical Officer for SEOIB’s Epidemiology team, has taken a temporary detail with the Mycotic Diseases Branch, Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.

Gabrielle Fanning-Dowdell has joined SEOIB’s Epidemiology Team as a Project Coordinator. Gabby is a contractor with Northrop Grumman and will be working closely with TBESC partners to facilitate study enrolment, data management, and analysis.

Derrick D. Felix has transferred from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Atlanta, Georgia, and will continue working in the Field Services and Evaluation Branch of DTBE. In his new role, Derrick will be the Program Consultant for Alaska, Hawaii, and the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI), which include, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Derrick’s start date in Atlanta was Dec. 1, 2013.

Prior to his reassignment to headquarters, Derrick served 8 years in Honolulu, Hawaii, as the Senior Public Health Advisor with the Hawaii TB Control Program. In that capacity, he managed the CDC TB cooperative agreement; developed and implemented programmatic activities to meet national TB objectives, which resulted in measureable improvements in state performance measures; established policies and procedures to standardize TB practices throughout the state; facilitated TB case conferences and cohort reviews; conducted quality assurance of TB surveillance data; served as lead for program evaluation; and provided various TB trainings statewide. Additionally, he provided technical assistance to local TB staff and partners throughout Hawaii and provided direct assistance with TB contact investigations in numerous dialysis centers, cruise ships, schools, and correctional facilities. He was also involved with regional TB control and prevention efforts, which included assisting with an Epi-Aid to the Republic of the Marshall Islands, providing monitoring and evaluation site visits to the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia at the request of the World Health Organization and Secretariat of the Pacific Community, and assisting with the coordination of the Pacific Island TB Controllers Association annual workshop.

Derrick celebrated 10 years of service with CDC earlier this year and has spent that entire time with DTBE. His previous federal assignments include Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Chicago, Illinois. Prior to joining CDC, he worked one year as a Disease Intervention Specialist in the Palm Beach County TB Control Program in Delray Beach, Florida.

Michael F. Iademarco, MD, MPH, Captain (USPHS), is leaving DTBE for another CDC leadership position. Beginning January 6, 2014, he will serve as Director of the Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services (CSELS), which is part of CDC’s Office of Public Health Scientific Services (OPHSS).

Michael's expertise as a physician-scientist and laboratorian provide a strong foundation to lead CDC’s efforts to track America’s health, strengthen laboratory networks, and help public health officials identify the most urgent health threats. He most recently served as Chief of DTBE’s Laboratory Branch, where he oversaw clinical laboratory referral services and helped strengthen laboratory capacity building. From 2006 to 2010, Michael was the Health and Human Services Health Attaché at the U.S. Mission in Vietnam, where he coordinated U.S. health activities for the Embassy and was the in-country representative for the Office of the Secretary. In 2011, he was awarded a Government of Vietnam medal by the country’s prime minister in part for his work against HIV/AIDS. In addition, Michael served as Associate Director for Science for DTBE, where he oversaw the issuance of major guidelines.

Michael is an adjunct faculty member of Emory University’s Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine. He serves as an attending physician annually at the Atlanta Veterans Administration Medical Center Medical Intensive Care Unit.

Rose Punnoose has joined SEOIB’s Epidemiology Team as a Project Coordinator. Rose is a contractor with Northrop Grumman and will be working closely with TBESC partners to facilitate study enrolment, data management, and analysis. Welcome Rose!

Chaturia Rouse has left the Epidemiology team of SEOIB for Medical School at Case Western University. Chaturia was a project coordinator with TBESC and worked closely with the data management system and site-specific enrolment. SEOIB wishes Chaturia all the best in her upcoming studies!

Charlie Walker has joined CEBSB and will be working with DTBE as a web developer. He did his undergraduate studies and received a Master’s Degree in Technology Education from Jackson State University in Jackson, MS. Prior to coming to DTBE, Charlie worked for CDC’s OD/OCS, located at the Roybal campus; the Department of Agriculture; and IBM as a Web/SharePoint Analyst. Charlie is a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. In his spare time, Charlie enjoys working out, playing flag football, and watching football.

Liping Zhu, scientific data analyst contractor from Northrop Grumman and TBESC’s data manager, has left DTBE for a position with the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Liping led analysis on TBESC-I and TBESC-II study data. SEOIB wishes Liping all the best in her work with NCIRD!

In Memoriam

Don Kopanoff passed away on December 17, 2013, after a long illness resulting from Legionnaires’ disease. He had served as a long-time and valuable CDC employee for 34 years. Don retired from the Division of Tuberculosis Elimination (DTBE) on April 1, 1994, after last serving as Associate Director for External Relations, DTBE.

Don joined CDC in 1960 and first served in various field assignments with the Division of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and with the then-named Division of Tuberculosis Control (DTBC). He joined the headquarters staff of DTBC in 1967 as a member of the Training Unit, where he was instrumental in setting up several headquarters and field training courses, including TB Today.

In the early 1970s, he played a major role in moving the TB Research and Development Branch from Bethesda, Maryland, to Atlanta, a very difficult task. From 1974 to 1990, Don served as Deputy Chief, Clinical Research Branch. Don received numerous awards, including one for his assistance in the early 1990s in forming the National Coalition for the Elimination of Tuberculosis (NCET), the precursor to Stop TB USA.

After retiring, Don enjoyed spending his free time traveling the world with his wife, Alyce, as well as volunteering his time giving tours to school children at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta.

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