Re-cap the 2019 EIS Conference, April 29–May 2

CDC Director,  Dr. Robert Redfield at 2019 EIS Conference

CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, kicked off the 2019 EIS conference and met with 2019 National Science Olympiad winners from Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, VA, Cathy Liang (junior at TJHS) and John Krause-Steinrauf (currently a freshman at University of Virginia). As part of their award, the EIS program paid for their travel to attend EIS conference.

CDC Director and ATSDR Administrator Robert R. Redfield, MD, kicked off the 68th annual conference of the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) on April 29, 2019. This year’s conference attracted 2,018 attendees from across the world.

This multifaceted event provides training opportunities for EIS officers, Laboratory Leadership Service (LLS) fellows, and other trainees while providing public health stakeholders with opportunities to network and learn about recent epidemiologic investigations, laboratory science, and forward-thinking strategies for public health improvements.

During his opening remarks, Redfield announced the launch of the brand new Future Leaders in Infections and Global Health Threats (FLIGHT) program. “This advanced, multi-disciplinary training ensures CDC’s future in global health threat and domestic preparedness capacity,” said Redfield. “It develops leaders with the confidence and ability to create and sustain the kinds of impactful public health programs for which this agency has achieved worldwide recognition.” FLIGHT participants will learn and practice tiered levels of management and leadership skills; have access to personal leadership development coaching; and have protected time to participate in mentorship and agency leadership activities.

Also new this year, the EIS conference program featured presentations in the general sessions from trainees in CDC’s Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) and the Applied Epidemiology Fellows from the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE).

Welcoming CDC’s Newest Disease Detectives and Laboratory Leaders
John Beltrami

Incoming EIS officers and LLS fellows had the opportunity to network and interact with alumni from both programs. EIS alum John Beltrami (EIS Class of 1995) is pictured.

A great deal of behind-the-scenes work takes place at EIS conference including the match process, networking, and recruitment of potential applicants for the next application period. The EIS Class of 2019 brings 66 new disease detectives with 21 officers matched with state or local health departments. More about the incoming and current EIS classes can be found in the 2019 EIS Annual Report pdf icon[4 MB, 6 Pages, 508]. The LLS Class of 2019 had one fellow match with a public health laboratory in Massachusetts and 8 fellows match for positions within CDC: 4 in the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID); 2 in the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP); and 1 in the Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services (CSELS).

Learn more about the work of EIS officers and LLS fellows on their respective websites.

Compelling Lecture: Opening Our Eyes to a Water Crisis
(L-R) CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat with Drs. Mona Hanna-Attisha and CDC /DSEPD Director Pattie Simone

(L-R) CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat with Drs. Mona Hanna-Attisha and Pattie Simone, CDC division director

The 2019 Alexander D. Langmuir Lecture featured Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, MPH, FAAP, a dynamic physician, scientist, and public health activist who detailed her role in uncovering the Flint Water Crisis and leading recovery efforts. In her compelling talk, she discussed the early days of the lead water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and how she intervened as a physician after recognizing symptoms of lead poisoning in her patients. From her initial suspicions, Dr. Hanna-Attisha began delving into research, as well as engagement with parents, the media, and government officials. Her powerful presentation detailed her personal and professional evolution from pediatrician and researcher to public health advocate. Her talk is available for online viewing on the EIS conference Alexander D. Langmuir web page.

Showcasing Innovative Storytelling
Dr. Howard Chiou

Howard Chiou, MD, PhD, MS, EIS Class of 2018, delivers his TED-style Talk about partnering with local law enforcement to stop a wound botulism outbreak in Los Angeles county.

As part of a division-wide effort within CDC’s Division of Scientific Education and Professional Development (DSEPD), EIS officers and LLS fellows receive training in data visualization and storytelling. The results of this training are re-imagined presentations that emphasize data visualization and communication beyond bulleted text. The evidence-based training leads to greater visual impact and a stronger absorption of important findings. These innovative communication techniques can serve as a model, not only for other CDC fellowship programs, but for how fellows communicate about their work throughout and beyond the walls of CDC.

To build upon this training and new approach to presentations and sharing public health messages, EIS officers and LLS fellows captivated the audience with first-hand stories from the field in TED-style sessions. New this year, the TED-style sessions featured two alumni, one from the EIS program and one from the LLS program. From a mysterious outbreak investigation in Bahrain, to closing down a travel clinic with tainted vaccines, each presenter took listeners on a behind-the-scenes journey of their compelling work. This year’s Ted-style sessions will be posted on the EIS stories web page in the coming weeks.

Sarah Luna, PhD, EIS Class of 2016

Sarah Luna, PhD, EIS Class of 2016

Tragically, just weeks following the 2019 EIS conference, Sarah Luna (EIS Class of 2016) passed away in a plane crash as she was en route to a remote village in Alaska where she served as a senior epidemiologist for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. During the inaugural Ted-style session at last year’s EIS conference, Sarah delivered an insightful and inspirational talk titled, “Food Behind Bars: When Food Safety Isn’t Enoughexternal icon,” unveiling the broad consequences of our failure to provide adequate nutrition to incarcerated individuals in the United States. To honor her public health work and spirit, all future TED-style sessions at EIS conference will be named the Sarah Luna Memorial Ted-Style Sessions.

EIS and LLS Featured in News & Digital Media
EIS officers and an LLS fellow participated in one of the four daily telebriefings, talking live with reporters. They summarized investigative findings they presented at conference and answered reporters’ questions.

EIS officers and an LLS fellow participated in one of the four daily telebriefings, talking live with reporters. They summarized investigative findings they presented at conference and answered reporters’ questions.

There was no shortage of thought-provoking topics presented at this year’s conference and the nation’s news media took notice! EIS officers and an LLS fellow participated in daily press briefings open to national media, with topics ranging from health threats that affect children, the impact and safety of vaccines, the opioid crisis, and breaking issues. Over the course of conference, 26 media interviews were conducted with fellows and CDC staff, resulting in 80+ news stories as of mid-May. Full media coverage is available on the EIS in the News web page.

This image featuring Laboratory Leadership Service fellow David Lowe accompanied a CDC Instagram post about the public health findings he presented at conference, resulting in the agency’s top-performing Instagram post for the month of May.

This image featuring Laboratory Leadership Service fellow David Lowe accompanied a CDC Instagram post about the public health findings he presented at conference, resulting in the agency’s top-performing Instagram post for the month of May.

The cutting-edge findings from EIS officers’ and LLS fellows’ work were shared before and during conference across CDC’s Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. Additionally, EIS officers and LLS fellows discussed their fellowship experiences in on-camera interviews that were released as Instagram stories on CDC’s channel.

Annual Awards and Recognitions
Lavery Funk

(On the right) Amy Lavery (EIS Class of 2017), after winning the 2019 Mitch Singal award, with Renée Funk (EIS Class of 2002), NCEH/ATSDR Associate Director for Emergency Management

This year’s winners are highlighted below. Learn more about each award and past recipients on the EIS conference awards web page.

Scientific Program Committee Awards

  • Donald C. Mackel Memorial Award—Erica Wilson – Coagulopathy Caused by Brodifacoum Rodenticide Poisoning Among Persons Who Smoke Synthetic Cannabinoids ― Wisconsin, 2018
  • Virgil Peavy Memorial Award—Heather Reese – Spatiotemporal patterns in pertussis incidence – United States, 2000-2017
  • Outstanding Poster Presentation Award—Mitsuru Toda – Coccidioidomycosis in U.S. residents returning from house-building trips in Baja California, Mexico, June‒July, 2018
  • Mitch Singal Excellence in Occupational and Environmental Health Award—Amy Lavery
  • Paul C. Schnitker International Health Award—Scott Nabity and Elizabeth Swedo
  • Shalon M. Irving Memorial Award—Sharoda Dasgupta
  • Iain C. Hardy Memorial Award—Jose Hagan
  • Philip S. Brachman Award—Michael Gronostaj


EIS Alumni Association Awards 

  • Alexander D. Langmuir Prize—Corey Peak, – Infections Transmitted in the Community – Homelessness and Hepatitis A — San Diego County, 2016–2018
  • David J. Sencer Scholarship Award—Nick Agathis, Alli Black, Katrina Byrd, Shama Cash-Goldwasser, Heather Grome, Erinne Kennedy, Hannah Lee, Vinay Mikkilineni, Jay Miller, Crystal Zheng
  • Distinguished Friend of EIS Award—Janell Routh
  • James H. Steele Veterinary Public Health Award—Caitlin Cossaboom
  • Stephen B. Thacker Excellence in Mentoring Award—Brenda Rivera-García

2019 International Night Awards

International Night, a longtime annual tradition at the EIS conference, was a great success this year with oral presentations taking place on Tuesday evening and poster presentations on Wednesday evening.

  • Jeffrey P. Koplan Award Excellence in Scientific Presentation—Munaza Fatima – Complications Associated with XDR Typhoid Fever Cases in Hospitalized Patients of District Hyderabad, Pakistan, 2017-2018
  • William H. Foege Award—Kokuhabwa Irene MukurasiLinkage into Care Among Newly Diagnosed HIV Infected Individuals in Njombe Region, Tanzania 2017-2018: A prospective cohort
EIS Officer share hug at conference

Ready for next year? Save the Date!

2020 69th Annual EIS Conference
May 4–7, 2020
Sheraton Atlanta Hotel
65 Courtland Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30303

Visit the EIS conference page in early 2020 for more information.