APHL says thank you

APHL says thank you | www.APHLblog.org

This year, APHL again joined Research!America and other public health partners to celebrate Public Health Thank You Day! Each year on the Monday before Thanksgiving, we take a moment to thank our staff, members, partners and others in the public health community for all the hard work they do to keep us safe and healthy.

A special thanks to all the unsung heroes in public health. I am especially grateful for those combating antibiotic resistance. It’s a difficult task, but we have the right people on it. Your talent and drive do not go unnoticed.

– Eric Ransom, APHL-CDC Antimicrobial Resistance Fellow

I am thankful for APHL members, associates, colleagues and partners who collaborate to promote, monitor and regulate public health.

– Tyler Wolford, senior specialist, Laboratory Response Network, Public Health Preparedness and Response

I am thankful for the school nutrition specialists who visit our school as part of the USDA Extension Program through the University of Maryland. They explain where food comes from and how to make healthy yet inexpensive choices in the foods we eat. Children stay engaged in what they learn by through simple recipes that are sent home each month. They even get my seven year old to try new snacks and vegetables as part of the “Two Bites” club.

– Shari Shea, director, Food Safety

Thank you, public health colleagues and partners, for your tireless dedication to the greater good. Whether you’re on the front lines or behind-the-scenes, the work you do is meaningful and appreciated! Many of you go above and beyond, especially when outbreaks emerge and disasters strike. Your passion, adaptability and commitment inspire me and I am grateful for the opportunity to work and learn with you.

– Robyn Sagal, specialist, Global Health

This year, I am thankful that the public health community reacted to Hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria quickly and collaboratively to ensure that the people affected have access to clean water, safe food and other essential resources.

– Sean Page, associate specialist, Public Health Preparedness and Response

It never gets old to say thank you to all of the unsung heroes who work in public health. These individuals ensure that our water is safe to drink; our food supply is safe and our communities are protected. From antibiotic resistance to Zika, public health scientists work tirelessly to protect communities. I salute all public health scientists and thank them for their hard work and dedication to public service.

– Chris Mangal, director, Public Health Preparedness and Response

This year, I am thankful for the collaborative nature of public health. Having just attended a multidisciplinary detection and response meeting, I really appreciate how intertwined different disciplines are from epidemiology to veterinary science, agriculture, clinical sector and laboratories. I am thankful when I see such respect being given from one sector to the other acknowledging that in order for public health to work the way it is supposed to we have to rely on each other.

– Stephanie Chester, manager, Influenza, Infectious Diseases

As we gear up for flu season, I’m thankful for all of the epidemiologists and laboratorians testing and sequencing influenza viruses. Thanks for keeping tabs on this ever-changing virus and keeping us prepared for the next pandemic.

– Elizabeth Toure, senior specialist, Global Health

I am thankful for hardworking colleagues dedicated to improving the health of all.

– Anne Gaynor, manager, HIV, Hepatitis, STD and TB Programs, Infectious Diseases

I’m thankful for all of the dedicated, passionate laboratory scientists who work in APHL’s member laboratories, tirelessly striving day in and day out to assure that our water is clean, our food is healthy, our babies grow up to be the best they can be, our families are safe from emerging infectious diseases and our world is a healthier place!

– Linette Granen, director, Membership & Marketing

I’m thankful that I can travel the world and know my vaccinations will protect me from deadly diseases!

– Madeline Rooney, specialist, Strategic Communications

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Lab Culture Ep. 6: What is the Biosafety Peer Network?

Ep. 6: What is the Biosafety Peer Network? | www.APHLblog.org

Lab Culture Ep. 6: What is the Biosafety Peer Network? | www.APHLblog.org

The Biosafety Peer Network (aka the Visiting Biosafety Official Program) links US local, state, and territorial public health laboratories with US-affiliated Pacific Island laboratories to facilitate mentoring and information sharing among biosafety officials and officers. The exchange is intended to foster a collaborative community, advance  biosafety and biosecurity in laboratories, and ultimately improve public health laboratory biosafety and biosecurity across the US. So what exactly does the Biosafety Peer Network do? Three members of this network — Rebecca Sciulli (Hawaii), Paul Fox (Hawaii) and Anne Marie Santos (Guam) sat down for a conversation about their work.

Photo: Paul Fox (left) and Rebecca Sciulli (center) giving Anne Marie Santos (right) a tour of the Hawaii Laboratories Division facility to showcase their biosafety practices, as part of the Peer Network program.

Links

Biosafety Peer Network Program Application

Laboratory Biosafety & Biosecurity Resources

Biosafety & Biosecurity Training

 

If you’re enjoying Lab Culture, please rate and review on iTunes and/or Stitcher!

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New Lab Matters: Sharing the value of public health laboratories

New Lab Matters: Sharing the value of public health laboratories | www.APHLblog.org

The need for a laboratory voice in budgetary discussions has become more urgent recently, and “human-to-human relationships” are as critical as technical knowledge. So how does a public health laboratory raise its profile within the community? By telling a good story…over and over again.

In the summer issue of Lab Matters, our feature article examines how laboratories are sharing their value, one interview, photo or outreach moment at a time.

Here are just a few of this issue’s highlights:

Subscribe and get Lab Matters delivered to your inbox, or read Lab Matters on your mobile device.

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Farewell, Providence! APHL Annual Meeting — Days 3 and 4

Farewell, Providence! APHL Annual Meeting — Days 3 and 4 | www.APHLblog.org

After four days of fascinating speakers, networking with peers and partners from around the world, and enjoying public health jokes that only insiders would understand, the 2017 APHL Annual Meeting came to a close. It was the largest meeting yet with over 700 attendees. We are so thankful to the APHL staff, members, partners, exhibitors and speakers who made this meeting a success! See you all in Pasadena, California in 2018!

Below is a round-up of days 3 and 4.

Day 1 round-up

Day 2 round-up

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APHL Annual Meeting — Day 2

APHL Annual Meeting — Day 2 | www.APHLblog.org

It was another great day at the APHL Annual Meeting! From cholera to opioids to storytelling, the day was packed full of fascinating presentations from experts. Follow #APHL on Twitter and Instagram to join the conversation!

Day 1 round-up

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UberOps CEO talks public health in the cloud

UberOps CEO talks public health in the cloud | www.APHLblog.org

In a very short time, Americans have become increasingly familiar with the cloud. Not the white fluffy ones in the sky, but the cloud where much of our day-to-day computing takes place. Even for people who aren’t familiar with the term, they likely are familiar with the concept of accessing internet-based files from anywhere. Photos taken on your smartphone might be automatically uploaded to a cloud-based storage system where you can view or download those photos on your laptop. Just as this technology has become valuable in our daily lives, it has become valuable in public health.

At this year’s APHL Annual Meeting, Eduardo Gonzalez Loumiet, CEO of UberOps, presented on public health in the cloud. We asked Eddie a few questions about the system that he has worked to develop along with APHL informatics and the value that this platform offers public health laboratories and ultimately the American public.

Learn more about AIMS — AIMS Platform: Outpacing Pathogens from the Cloud

In simple terms, what is the AIMS platform? What is the role of UberOps?

AIMS stands for the APHL Informatics Messaging Services Platform. AIMS was developed in 2008 as part of the Public Health Laboratory Interoperability Project (PHLIP) focused on influenza surveillance with the CDC.

AIMS is a secure, cloud based environment that accelerates the implementation of health messaging by providing shared services to aid in the transport, validation, translation and routing of electronic data.

The AIMS Platform has grown to a community of more than 85 trading partners involved in several use cases including ELR, Whole Genome Sequencing, ARLN and NMI. New use cases are being discovered every day.

UberOps is an APHL partner that develops and supports the AIMS Platform. We work on the deep technical aspects of AIMS. Our focus is on continuously securing the environment, trading partner onboarding, and ensuring trading partners have the information and tools to leverage AIMS Platform benefits.

Why should public health labs use a cloud-based system? What are the benefits? 

The benefits of using cloud computing have surpassed perceived risks. AIMS utilizes Amazon Web Services (AWS), the industry leader in Cloud computing. The benefits of cloud computing include:

  1. Security, high availability and reliability
  2. Centralized processing and message routing
  3. Real-time monitoring and audit systems
  4. Reduced message transport complexity
  5. Reduced data translation and transformation complexity
  6. Reduced development and support costs
  7. Flexible capacity infrastructure
  8. FISMA Moderate compliant applications
  9. FedRAMP compliant environment via the cloud provider
  10. Commitment to innovation and the future

Are public health laboratories the only labs using AIMS?

UberOps CEO talks public health in the cloud | www.APHLblog.org

AIMS was built to serve public health laboratories. Over the last 18-24 months the AIMS infrastructure has expanded capability to allow public health agencies and a select group of private laboratories to securely exchange data as well. We have also seen an increase in cross-jurisdictional ELR data exchange between agencies. AIMS has also been used to host other non-profit data, such as STEVE 2.0, which focuses on exchanging birth and death records between states. And AIMS is being used to process data for the first time in the cloud through virtual workstations for the whole genome sequencing project. We are excited for the emerging possibilities!

Is it secure? How do I know my information wont be stolen or misused?

The top priority for APHL and UberOps is a secure and compliant AIMS Platform. Stringent healthcare laws and regulations across jurisdictions are monitored on a regular basis, and revisited on a regular basis. The AIMS Platform is FISMA Moderate compliant, which requires a once per year third-party audit. In addition to the audit, the AIMS infrastructure is required to pass firewall penetration testing.

Each member of the AIMS Platform team attends yearly HIPAA privacy and security training. The AIMS dedicated security team uses advanced, real-time monitoring tools to proactively eliminate potential threats.

What does this mean for the public? Are there clear benefits for people in the community?

AIMS is an extension of everything our public labs represent in the United States. The ability to monitor and detect health threats quickly using a shared technology platform is an invaluable asset for the safety of all citizens. Preventing and/or predicting large expected (like influenza) and unexpected (like Zika) public health events is where the AIMS Platform serves our communities.

What does the future hold for AIMS?

APHL, UberOps and AIMS stakeholders are constantly looking to expand the functionality of the AIMS infrastructure. As the evolution of health data continues, we see new opportunities to assist with integrating data and providing a higher quality experience for trading partners, patients and citizens.

Our recent platform growth between public and private collaboration will continue, and we expect to expand AIMS application services (examples: Dashboards, Portals, LIMS), electronic case reporting and much more!

 

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AIMS Platform: Outpacing Pathogens from the Cloud

AIMS Platform: Outpacing Pathogens from the Cloud | www.APHLblog.org

By Rachel Shepherd, associate specialist, Informatics, APHL

​​In a kindergarten classroom in Des Moines, a small boy begins to shiver uncontrollably. In a nursing home in Phoenix, a pneumonic grandmother fights for her life from a hospital bed. On a crowded metro car in Washington, DC, in the miniscule droplets of saliva from a man’s kind “Hello” to a stranger, it attacks. The flu. It comes every year as the months begin to shift into winter, returning slightly different than before, exploding and thriving, determined to wreak havoc. It descends upon the nation, preys upon us in our most vulnerable moments, and says, “This is my  year.”

In public health, every emerging threat—the flu, E. coli, Legionnaires’ disease, Ebola, Zika—is a race against time. What can scientists learn from these deadly pathogens, and more importantly, how fast? Lives depend on this data, on laboratories’ ability to track patterns, decipher mutations and to share, compare and build upon those findings—crowdsourcing at its finest and most critical.

Only a few years ago, a lab would manually enter its test results and fax them to CDC and other reference centers. Someone would receive the paper transmission and manually re-enter it. The process would take days. In that time, an outbreak could have spread. Lives could have been lost.

Time matters. But thanks to an APHL-CDC initiative, what used to take days can now take minutes. In 2008, public health labs recognized the need to share their data electronically. APHL worked hand in hand with informatics specialists at state labs and CDC to develop what was then known as the Route not Read (RnR) hub. This seemingly simple, but powerful approach sent public health data through a service that read the outside envelope of the electronic message and delivered it to the intended recipient without opening its contents.

Four years later, the increasing complexity and demands for public health data led to the development of the AIMS platform. Now in a cloud-based environment, AIMS has burgeoned over the years. The new environment accelerates the transmission of data and provides shared services, such as message validation translation, to labs and trading partners. Today, more than 85 organizations and institutions exchange data over AIMS, with more than 25 million messages transported to date.

The vital data exchanged on AIMS includes aggregated influenza test results from public health laboratories to CDC, vaccine-preventable disease reports, biological threat data, immunization data exchange among several public health jurisdictions, electronic laboratory reporting between hospitals and their jurisdictions, and whole genome sequencing through the Advanced Molecular Detection initiative. And AIMS is expanding again to offer electronic case reporting to connect laboratories and health agencies with CDC and with other data recipients nationwide.

Since its launch in 2012, the AIMS platform has equipped public health officials to monitor and respond rapidly to health threats, strengthened labs with shared resources and expedited delivery of time-sensitive health information to consumers. As the platform continues to gain traction, its contributions to the nation’s health infrastructure will be tremendous.

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New Lab Matters: Cannabis testing and public health laboratories

New Lab Matters: Cannabis testing and public health laboratories | www.APHLblog.org

As it stands today, cannabis is a Schedule I narcotic, on the same US government list as heroin, ecstasy and other illicit drugs deemed to have high abuse potential. For 28 states and the District of Columbia where cannabis is legal for medical and/or recreational adult use, this is a huge problem, especially for state agencies and laboratories tasked with regulatory oversight and public health surveillance of cannabis safety.

In the spring issue of Lab Matters, our feature article examines how public health laboratories are responding to this unique challenge.

Here are just a few of this issue’s highlights:

Subscribe and get Lab Matters delivered to your inbox, or read Lab Matters on your mobile device.

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APHL and EPA formalize environmental health partnership

APHL and EPA formalize environmental health partnership | www.APHLblog.org

By Scott J. Becker, executive director, APHL

Earlier this week, on behalf of APHL, I had the honor of signing an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formalizing what will be an invaluable partnership. Leading our nation in environmental science, research and innovation, the EPA’s commitment to health is as strong as ours. Coupled with APHL’s work to promote environmental and public health laboratory science, together we can better understand public health risks and respond to them efficiently and effectively. We have worked closely with EPA in the past through the Water Laboratory Alliance, National Biomonitoring Network Steering Committee and many other efforts, and look forward to this formal relationship and increased opportunity for collaboration.

APHL and EPA formalize environmental health partnership | www.APHLblog.orgSigning this new memorandum of understanding (MOU) was not only an exciting statement of cooperation, but also a great opportunity to discuss goals with my friend, Dr. Tom Burke, deputy assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD). Dr. Burke wrote a great blog post about our new partnership. And you can see a brief video of us discussing the importance of this collaboration. I am so appreciative of his commitment to protect the public’s health and to our partnership.

Special thanks to some key people who began the dialogue with EPA years ago, and others who pushed this forward in recent times:  Dr. Jim Pearson, former director of Virginia’s Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services and past APHL president; Ramona Travato, formerly in many roles at EPA; Kacee Deener, senior science advisor, EPA ORD; Dr. Megan Latshaw, formerly APHL’s director of environmental health and currently co-director of the Master of Health Science in Environmental Health Program at Johns Hopkins University; Julianne Nassif, APHL’s director environmental health program; and Sarah Wright, APHL’s senior specialist for environmental laboratories.

This was a team effort from the beginning and will continue as such into the future. Now it’s time to get to work!

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