Category Archives: Leadership
Hau`oli Makahiki Hou (“Happy New Year” in Hawaiian)! In 2017, APHL and its members face some significant undertakings. From Zika to superbugs, public health laboratories can and should utilize their extensive experience and knowledge coupled with new approaches to tackle these pressing issues.
As APHL’s president, these are my top three priorities for 2017:
Coordinated & Integrated Zika Testing
We’ve been here before. Specimens flood into our public health laboratories because of a new threat, and we work with local and national partners to establish algorithms, activate our response and continuity plans, and do what it takes to stop it. The Zika virus outbreak has been unique in its own right. Most of the people infected don’t get sick, yet it causes potentially life-threatening birth defects. It’s mosquito-borne AND sexually-transmitted. Cross-reactivity in serological tests with other flaviviruses like dengue disrupts screening and confuses confirmation. We clearly had our work cut out for us from the beginning, and the problem wasn’t going away anytime soon. Consequently, a successful and sustained response to this threat is going to require corporate, clinical and public health coordination and integration.
Coordination: Public health laboratory leaders need to reach out and bring together stakeholders. We need to identify barriers to timely case identification and specimen transport (pre-analytic) as well as meaningful results delivery (post-analytic). We need to continue to improve Zika algorithms, and keep everyone informed of those changes. We need to convene the meetings today that will outline our activities month and years from now.
Integration: We need to help corporate test developers understand testing demands and requirements so they can leverage their strengths to make new tests available to our clinical partners. We need to work with developers, regulators and clinical partners to ensure that we maintain continuity if/when transitioning testing to non-public health labs. We need to ensure reporting to public health is not overlooked and that access to confirmatory services are available.
So, the Zika response is a bit like a relay race. We have the baton now, but we also need to make sure it is firmly in the hands of another “runner” before we let go. APHL is committed to helping with this; I certainly am as president.
Learn more about Zika testing
Smarter Antimicrobic Therapy
Speaking of races, the bugs seem to be beating the drugs. Alarming resistance mechanisms have (finally) gotten enough attention for us to witness significant funding for public health efforts to combat the antimicrobial resistance epidemic. Lab folks may not control prescriptions, but we need to get in the game with providers, epidemiologists, pharmacists, clinical labs and manufacturers to reassert our collective dominance over the single cell super bugs. We need to get advanced detection and characterization methodologies validated and available to improve antibiotic awareness that can lead to better decisions for individuals (e.g., detection of Tamiflu-resistant influenza A, confirmation of carbapenemase-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, etc.) and populations (e.g., high-quality antibiograms, etc.) In 2017, the Antimicrobial Resistance Laboratory Network will begin providing services, and the new APHL/CDC Antimicrobial Resistance Fellowship, which offers master’s and doctoral level graduates the chance to explore related topics, will welcome its first cohort. Hard work at multiple levels is needed to reverse losses in the efficacy of life-saving therapeutics.
Learn more about antimicrobial resistance
Laboratory Science Leadership
Whether we like it or not, our communities look to public health laboratory scientists for leadership. This role extends far beyond the position description we read before getting hired for our jobs. It’s more than managing the people we directly supervise. It’s influencing people, policy and procedures throughout our sphere of influence. APHL’s vision is a healthier world through quality laboratory systems, so we cannot limit ourselves to those resources we control directly. We need to provide leadership throughout our sphere of influence. That can be as big as testifying on Capitol Hill, or as (seemingly) small as encouraging a student on his or her science project. The opportunities are TNTC*, however in the two subjects I outline above, the emphasis is on initiating and leading cross-cutting collaborations that strengthen laboratory systems and make the world a safer place.
Hmmm, not a bad thing to list as an accomplishment to get your boss’ attention during your next performance evaluation…am I right?
*TNTC – Too numerous to count; an amusing reference to the acronym used in microbial quantitative plate counting.
The post Leading the Zika relay race and other presidential priorities for 2017 appeared first on APHL Lab Blog.
Meet Rear Admiral Stephen C. Redd, MD, the new director of CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response. Dr. Redd is a Rear Admiral and Assistant to the Surgeon General in the United States Public Health Service. He comes to CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (OPHPR) from CDC’s Influenza Coordination Division and brings with him the expertise and experience of working at CDC for nearly 30 years and serving 29 years in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
In his new role, Dr. Redd will be leading OPHPR, which is CDC’s principle coordinator of all preparedness and response activities. PHPR provides strategic direction, support, and coordination for activities across CDC and with local, state, tribal, national, territorial, and international public health partners.
Dr. Redd joins PHPR at a critical time. CDC is running its largest international emergency response ever – the West Africa Ebola Response – as well as CDC’s global polio response. Dr. Redd is no stranger to emergency response. He served as the CDC Incident Commander during the H1N1 response and described a Rip Van Winkle moment when he returned from the Emergency Operations Center to his regular office and found a calendar from the year before hanging on the wall. Dr. Redd recently took some time to talk to the Public Health Matters blog and share a little about himself and his work at CDC.
- What drew you to public health?
I went to medical school at Emory University in Atlanta, and when I was a second-year student, I learned about the chance to have a summer job at CDC. It was just after the 1980 election, and there was a great deal of concern over the status of the program because of budget cutbacks. Fortunately for me, I received a last-minute acceptance.
- How did you start your career at CDC?
After I completed my medical residency at Johns Hopkins, I returned to CDC for a two-year program as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officer in CDC’s Bacterial Diseases division. My plan was to return to academic medicine and complete an infectious disease fellowship, but instead I ended up staying for a third year after EIS when my girlfriend at the time (now wife) decided to move from California, where she was completing her residency in radiology, to Atlanta for a two-year fellowship. I stayed in the Bacterial Diseases program for a third year, which besides being a great job, allowed us to synch up our training. I am now about to celebrate my 30th year at CDC and my 28th wedding anniversary. I think it is safe to say staying here was the right decision.
- What previous role(s) have you held at CDC?
As I mentioned, I was an EIS officer, which was a challenging job but also provided me with many significant opportunities, including traveling to Senegal to assess the feasibility of conducting a pneumococcal vaccine trial in Dakar. I had never been to a developing country, and it was eye-opening, to say the least.
After that experience, I took a job in the International Health Program Office, which has developed into what is today known as the Center for Global Health.
In the International Health Program Office, I worked on childhood survival projects for 3 years in Africa, first on the control of acute respiratory infections and later in malaria. I have also worked on measles control, asthma control, and air pollution epidemiology.
The last job I had before coming to PHPR was as the director of the Influenza Coordination Center. In this position, I had the opportunity to work with leaders in a number of Centers at CDC and lead a very intense planning and exercise program. The work I did in the Influenza Coordination Unit helped prepare me for the most influential role I have held to date, being incident commander during the H1N1 response.
- What has impressed you most about OPHPR so far? What are you most excited about in your new role?
The pace and the variety of issues have surprised me. Even though I have worked with PHPR for many years as director of the Influenza Coordination Division and even served as Acting Deputy Director for 3 months last year, I am still surprised with the speed and variety of work that gets done within PHPR.
I am also impressed with the PHPR staff. They are fantastic and have shown me tons of support. A team spirit or an esprit de corps is very evident. It’s always better to work in a place where the people know they’re doing important, urgent work than a place where that’s not the case.
- What are your priorities for PHPR?
Our current and most urgent priority within PHPR is to get to zero Ebola cases in West Africa. Our office has already done so much great work in contributing to this agency-wide goal, but there is still work to be done in this area. My second priority is measuring the impact of our programs and developing measures to assess our preparedness. This type of assessment is critical as we chart our way forward and prioritize resources. In addition to immediate responses and the measuring impact, as a third priority, PHPR must continually strive to improve the work we do with our partners as a way to improve our future responses.
- What is the most important emergency preparedness lesson you have learned?
Be flexible, try to be clear about what you know and don’t know, and remember that you can’t know the future. You also need to find time to stay grounded by spending time with family and friends and keeping yourself “in shape” for the fast-paced nature of emergency response. That’s why I try to run or swim every morning and take breaks to go fishing with my daughter, who is a senior at the same high school I attended here in Atlanta. A response like H1N1 or Ebola is a marathon, although there are times when you have to sprint. It’s important to do what you have to do to stay ready mentally and physically for those times when sprints are required.
PHPR: Health Security in Action
This post is part of a series designed to profile programs from CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response.
You can follow Dr. Redd on Twitter at @DrReddCDC