Anikah Salim, MPH, CPH is the Regulatory Health Project Manager at the Center for Tobacco Products, Office of Science, with the U.S, Food and Drug Administration, and a member of the NSSP Steering Committee. We asked her a few questions about her career and interests so you could get to know her. Here are her answers.
How did you first learn about disease surveillance and when did you decide that it was an area of interest for you?
I first learned about disease surveillance and because interested in it when I started my career at the Maryland Department of Health. I recall my interview very vividly and being asked what I knew about disease surveillance/Biosurveillance. I answered, “I know as much as what I Googled prior to this interview…but I can learn anything!” And I did…and fell in love with the field.
What do you do?
I am a Biosurveillance epidemiologist (at the time of joining ISDS and the steering committee) but currently I work in Tobacco Control at the Food and Drug Administration.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I’ve always wanted to work in a field where I can significantly impact the health of the public as a whole in a positive way, and I get to wake up and do that every day.
What excites you in the work you do?
The people. We do not always get to see how we influence the community by our work, but just being able to advocate for the health of individuals who may or may not be able to advocate for themselves is rewarding enough. To do this with a group of like-minded people who are just a passionate make the work even more fulfilling.
Who or what inspires you professionally?
My parents. They are both givers. I learned from my parents that serving is more important than being served. They give from their heart, and that is something I’ve always admired about them and applied to my professional life. Yes, anyone can give, but as a professional I want and my motives to always come from a genuine heart – unconditionally.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment or achievement (related to disease surveillance)?
I had the privilege of co-authoring a chapter in the book, Disease Surveillance: Technological Contributions to Global Health Security published February 18, 2016.
How long have you been involved with ISDS?
I have been involved with ISDS for 5 years as a member, part of the pre-conference planning committee and as a member of the steering committee.
Why are you an ISDS member?
I am a member of ISDS because I wanted to be part of an organization that had the same common goal and I do and dedicated to achieving the same outcomes - improvement of population health and prevention of disease. ISDS was exactly what I was looking for and has been accomplishing that goal through several avenues, particularly its esteemed Community of Practice.
What do you value most about your ISDS membership?
I’ve grown to become an “expert” in my field as a result of my involvement with ISDS. Because of my exposure to the webinars, conferences, and meetings, I’ve been able to gain a wealth of knowledge and skills that I’ve directly applied on the job to propel me even further as a disease surveillance epidemiologist.
What is the biggest issue in disease surveillance (in your opinion)?
There is the increase in deforestation, expansion of international trade in food and medicine, coupled with emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases along with mutating viruses and resistance to treatments. I believe global infectious disease is one of the biggest issues in disease surveillance and a major concern for the country today.
What is one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?
I enjoy making my own skin care and hair care products, journals and gift baskets. I also climbed an active volcano.
If you could meet anyone living or deceased, who would it be?
If you were not a epidemiologist, what would you be?
If I were not an epidemiologist, I would be a life coach/motivational speaker