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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


TB Notes Newsletter

No. 1, 2006


Gaby Benenson, MPH, has accepted an offer to join the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (DGMQ) as Senior Health Education Specialist, effective February 21, 2006. Gaby received her bachelor of science degree in health science from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, then a masters degree in public health in health behavior and health education from the University of Michigan. Gaby joined CDC as an Association of Schools of Public Health fellow assigned to DTBE in 1999 and was quickly hired by DTBE permanently upon completion of the fellowship in 2001. Gaby was instrumental in the development of numerous TB education and training related activities, including the Mantoux Tuberculin Skin Testing Materials, the database, and the annual TB Education and Training Network meeting. Gaby also served on the DTBE Outbreak Evaluation Unit, and was involved in outbreak-related education and training activities in Indiana, as well as with the Hmong in California and Thailand. In her new position in DGMQ, Gaby will be responsible for establishing and implementing a strategic vision for ongoing training of DGMQ field staff and their many partners in the airports, in private industry, and in communities. We are happy that Gaby has this opportunity, but we will miss her very much.

Puneet Dewan, MD, joined the International Research and Programs Branch of DTBE on December 2, 2005, and he has been seconded to the World Health Organization, Southeast Asia Regional Office in New Delhi, India. Before joining CDC in 2001, he was an internal medicine resident at the University of Washington, Seattle, and earned an MD degree from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Puneet previously served as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer with DTBE’s International Research and Programs Branch and was the project officer for a variety of TB epidemiologic research and program-building efforts in the former Soviet Union and Southeast Asia. He also previously served as a WHO consultant evaluating TB program collaborations with the private medical sector in India. From 2003 to 2005 Puneet served in the Field Services and Evaluation Branch, DTBE, where he was assigned to the San Francisco Department of Public Health. In San Francisco, Puneet was responsible for the city-wide switch from tuberculin skin testing for M. tuberculosis infection to the use of blood assays for M. tuberculosis. He also conducted outbreak investigations, operational research, and locally implemented studies for the TB Epidemiologic Studies Consortium.

Derrick Felix was selected for the Public Health Advisor position in Honolulu, Hawaii, and began his new assignment on November 28, 2005. Derrick recently completed a 1-year assignment with the Fort Wayne–Allen County Department of Health TB Control Program in Fort Wayne, Indiana. During this time, he provided leadership, direction, and technical assistance to the local public health department in the midst of a TB outbreak in the local African-American community. Derrick assisted with the development of policies, procedures, and plans necessary to meet the changing needs of the program. He also mentored newly hired staff, trained them in how to conduct TB control activities, reviewed all cases and suspects to ensure appropriate case management, developed and implemented monthly case conference, and created a database that is being used to store and analyze data collected by the program. Derrick joined DTBE’s Field Services and Evaluation Branch in April 2003 and began his first assignment with the Chicago Department of Public Health TB Program in Chicago, Illinois. He led and participated in monthly case conferences; conducted surveillance activities, case management, and contact and source case investigations, and provided DOT. Derrick also participated in large screenings within worksites and schools. He developed a database to track contacts identified during contact investigations and made modifications to another database to analyze Class B1/B2 immigrant screening data. Additionally, Derrick participated in temporary duty assignments in Portland, Maine, to assist in a TB outbreak among the homeless; Augusta, Maine, to implement a database allowing outbreak analysis and oversight at the state; Fort Wayne, Indiana, to assist in an outbreak among the African-American community; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to assist with TB control activities during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Prior to joining CDC, Derrick worked for the Florida Department of Health TB Program in Palm Beach County June 2002 to April 2003. As a Health Services Representative, he provided DOT and case management to TB patients in the field and clinic settings. Derrick, a graduate of the University of Florida, has a BS degree in Health Science Education.

Odile Ferroussier, MPH, has left DTBE after serving for 4 years in the International Research and Programs Branch. She co-led the formal evaluation of the pilot of the Binational Card Project; designed, implemented, and is currently analyzing a study to assess the cost-effectiveness of four MDR TB treatment strategies based on the use of standardized and individualized drug regimens in Peru; evaluated the cost of private-public mix partnerships to improve TB case detection in Kannur district in India; and taught and mentored staff in numerous operational research projects in Russia and Latin America. Currently Odile is working for the International Union Against TB and Lung Disease in the TB/HIV Department. She is coordinating the work of the International Advisory Committee for the Union's Integrated HIV care initiative, the goal being to integrate TB and HIV care in pilot areas in Benin, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Myanmar. She is also overseeing the development of the information system for this initiative. Odile is developing the protocol and instruments for a survey of patient costs, to be administered to coinfected patients in DRC and Benin. Finally, she is adapting a TB Program Management course (originally in English) for francophone countries and organizing the first session to be held in Cotonou, Benin, in late November 2006.

Stacy Harper has joined DTBE in the Clinical and Health Systems Research Branch as a Senior Public Health Advisor (PHA) and will work particularly on facilitating cross-branch activities and procurements. Stacy has served as a PHA for CDC for nearly 15 years, with field assignments including West Palm Beach, Florida, Washington, DC, and San Diego, California. In these previous assignments she served as a disease intervention specialist (DIS), Training and Education Coordinator, and Surveillance Coordinator before coming to CDC headquarters in Atlanta. In her assignment as a Public Health Advisor and Training Specialist, she provided training, developed surveillance and epidemiology courses, and provided technical assistance to the STD/HIV Prevention Training Centers. She has served on details to San Antonio to assist Katrina evacuees; to the newly formed Office of Workforce and Career Development (OWCD); to the West Nile Virus program (blood transfusion and organ transplant team); to the Smallpox Vaccine Program Plan, training states for implementation of Smallpox Vaccine; and to SARS assignments. Most recently she served as a Project Officer for the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Injury Response (proposed). She is the current President of the Watsonian Society and serves as Chair of the Professional Development Committee for the Society. Stacy holds degrees in optometry and music, and attended graduate school at the University of Washington in epidemiology.

Jimmy Keller has accepted the Senior Public Health Advisor position with the Florida Bureau of TB and Refugee Health. For the 14 years that Jimmy has worked in public health, this assignment to Florida will be his sixth geographic location of assignment. He started at the Dade County Public Health Unit, Miami, Florida, in May 1991 as a Public Health Associate II, in the STD program. In September 1992, he was transferred to New York City, New York, where he worked in the STD program at the Ft. Greene Health Center, Brooklyn, and the Jamaica Health Center, Queens, until January 1995. At that time, he accepted a position as a Supervisory Public Health Advisor with the New York City TB Program and served at the Morrisania Chest Clinic, Bronx and Chelsea Chest Clinic in Lower Manhattan. In May 1998, Jimmy accepted the position as the Public Health Advisor (Special Projects Coordinator) with the Detroit, Michigan, TB Program. This assignment broadened his scope of experience beyond the realm of service delivery into issues of program management and performance. In January 2001, he accepted a transfer to the Ohio TB Program which brought him the responsibility of coordinating programmatic activities for a state-level TB program, including such things as contracting for TB medical consultant services and participating in planning for cooperative agreement fund allocations; development of funds carry-over requests; and personnel and staffing administration. In November 2003, Jimmy accepted the Public Health Advisor position at the North Carolina TB Program. Here he encountered the full spectrum of program management activities related to planning operational activities; organizing staff meetings; controlling funds expenditures; carrying out staffing functions related to preparing position descriptions and developing new positions; and directing focus on national TB objectives. Jimmy began his service in the role of Senior Public Health Advisor for the Florida Bureau of TB and Refugee Health on November 28, 2005.

Kayla Laserson, ScD, has left DTBE. She has accepted an exciting new position as the Director of CDC’s field station in Kisumu, Kenya, managing a staff of 600 people and directing an international health portfolio that includes research and program activities for malaria, TB, HIV, and other emerging infectious diseases. She and her family moved to Kenya during the last week of January, and she assumed her new role on February 1, 2006. Though we in DTBE are happy for Kayla to have this wonderful opportunity, we are sad to see her leave the division, to which she has contributed so much since arriving as a new Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officer in the International Research and Programs Branch (previously International Activities unit) in July 1997. During her nearly 9 years with DTBE, Kayla has made very significant contributions to the global control of TB as well as to the efforts to eliminate TB in the United States. One of her major areas of focus has been the improvement of TB control in Latin America. Her work in that area in DTBE has been built upon her previous years of experience living and working in the region, conducting research on malaria. As another part of her DTBE work with Latin America, in particular Mexico, and also building on her efforts to improve TB screening, treatment, and care among immigrants in the United States, Kayla led efforts to design and implement the very successful binational TB card referral project, which was launched in 2003. Since its inception and launch, this project with Mexico—which required extensive negotiations and consensus building among two federal governments, multiple state governments from both countries, as well as a number of commissions and nongovernmental organizations—has generated much-needed information on the volume of TB patients who migrate across the U.S.-Mexico border while under active treatment, and has helped ensure that these patients actually complete treatment. In addition to the binational referral project, Kayla has conducted extensive epidemiologic studies on multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB, TB/HIV, and TB among healthcare workers; has led or contributed to multiple outbreak investigations in the region; and has worked with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) as the CDC representative to facilitate a number of TB program capacity-building and policy development exercises in the region as well. In addition to her work with Latin America, she has provided extensive technical assistance and epidemiologic expertise for DTBE’s work in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe. For Southeast Asia, she has worked closely with staff of other DTBE branches, the DTBE field assignee for Southeast Asia, and staff of the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine to improve the immigrant and refugee screening process through the conduct of a number of studies and capacity-building exercises. Within Africa, she has worked extensively to develop TB program capacity for a number of countries for conducting operations research as a way to empower TB program staff to use program data and resources to identify problems and make key improvements in program performance. Additionally, she developed and refined strategies for assessing TB drug quality within the TB program context to help ensure the availability of quality drugs for treating patients, and carried out extensive training for the methodology with TB staff from a number of countries. At the global policy level, Kayla led the effort to develop and refine new case registry and treatment outcome definitions for MDR TB patients, which are now widely used as the standards for registration and cohort analysis of MDR TB by a large number of TB programs throughout the world implementing DOTS-Plus projects for the treatment and management of MDR TB. Furthermore, she has made significant contributions to efforts of the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop new reporting and recording standards to accommodate the new 2006–2015 Stop-TB Global Plan’s call for integrating MDR TB and TB/HIV within the DOTS strategy. Last but not least, Kayla’s enthusiasm, love of teaching, and great epidemiologic talent have been integral and critical to DTBE’s success in attracting the best and the brightest EIS officers for several years running. Though she will be sorely missed, we know that Kayla will continue to make incredible contributions to public health in Kenya and the Africa region, where her talents are greatly needed. We wish her and her family the very best in their new life in Kenya and take comfort in the fact that she will continue to have impact on global TB control in her new position.

Gabe Palumbo, MBA, MPH, has left DTBE and accepted a position with the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine as the Detroit Quarantine Station Officer in Charge. He began his new position on December 12, 2005. Gabe joined the DTBE field staff in 1993 with an assignment to the New York City TB Program. In 1996, he was reassigned to the New York State TB Control Program with responsibilities for both Nassau and Suffolk counties. Gabe was subsequently reassigned to the Wisconsin TB Program in 1997, where he provided consultation and technical advice on statewide TB program development and assistance to local jurisdictions. In January 1999, he was selected for the senior PHA position in Hawaii, where he was responsible for TB program management activities. In 2001, Gabe reported to Lansing, Michigan, where he was responsible for providing technical advice and assistance to the Michigan TB Program, as well as working with local health departments in TB prevention and control efforts. Most recently, Gabe was the senior PHA for the California TB program. During his tenure in this position, Gabe served as the Chief, Resource Planning and Management Section, with primary responsibility for managing TB Branch fiscal resources and contractual awards.

Laura Jean Podewils, MS, PhD, has joined the Clinical and Health Systems Research Branch of the DTBE as an Epidemiologist for the Tuberculosis Trials Consortium (TBTC). The TBTC’s main purpose is to carry out targeted clinical studies to investigate TB research questions that will improve TB treatment and prevention strategies. Laura holds a doctorate in epidemiology from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and completed 2 years at CDC as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer in the Respiratory and Enteric Viruses Branch of the Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases in June 2005. She has previous clinical trials experience working as a data manager and research associate for a multicenter trial assessing walking as a means to attenuate fatigue in women with breast cancer, and as the principal investigator for a randomized trial evaluating the role of a home-based exercise program on maintaining physical function in persons with Alzheimer’s disease. In her new assignment, Laura will be serving as a project officer and epidemiologist in support of multiple TBTC trials. Laura’s initial activities include the assessment of the antibiotic moxifloxicin as a potential new antituberculosis agent and the assessment of side effects associated with the intermittent use of rifamycins for treatment of latent TB infection.

Susan Spaethe of the Information Technology and Statistics Branch left DTBE on Feb. 3, 2006, having accepted a career promotion with the National Center for Public Health Informatics, in the BioSense Program. Susan joined DTBE 6 years ago as a Computer Specialist and became Team Leader for the Software Application Development Team, supporting the DTBE data management activities. She was also the DTBE Technical Contact for the CITS contractors, assisting DTBE/OD in managing our CITS resources. She performed these and many more duties, such as serving as our Combined Federal Campaign coordinator for several years, outstandingly well. She always held a can-do attitude toward the bureaucratic barriers that sometimes delay our progress as we attempt to meet our goals and objectives. We will miss her humor and friendship and wish her well.


Released October 2008
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Division of Tuberculosis Elimination -

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