2018 ISDS Board of Directors
Erin Austin, MPH
Ms. Austin is Enhanced Surveillance Coordinator, Division of Surveillance and Investigation at the Virginia Department of Health. Since 2011, she has worked as a public health practitioner at the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) focusing on syndromic surveillance; first as a surveillance epidemiologist and now as the coordinator of the syndromic surveillance program. In this role she manages the operation of Virginia’s ESSENCE system, oversee the onboarding of syndromic surveillance data sources such as emergency department and urgent care center visits, coordinate VDH’s Meaningful Use activities, ensure quality, integrity and completeness of syndromic surveillance data, oversee the use of these data to identify emerging public health issues and monitor health trends as well as sharing data with public health partners for situational awareness and informed decision making. She has had the opportunity to contribute to recent national efforts focused on improving syndromic surveillance data, reporting, and tools such as leading Virginia’s participation in the piloting of ESSENCE as part of CDC’s National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP) as well as participating in the CDC Meaningful Use Public Health Reporting Taskforce subgroup focused on developing guidance materials for public health agencies on the registration and onboarding process in preparation for Stage 3 of Meaningful Use. Through her work she has built collaborations with other public health jurisdictions, most notably within the National Capital Region, to establish best practices for conducting syndromic surveillance, implement data sharing methods, and help expand surveillance capabilities in order to detect and monitor events of public health concern across the region.
Eric Bakota, MS
Eric Bakota is a Public Health Analyst with Harris County (TX) Public Health. He attended the University of Houston, where he earned his BA in English and MS in Biology. His entire career has been as a civil servant in local public health as a sanitarian, epidemiologist, informatician and now an analyst. He spent three years with the Houston Health Department before joining Harris County Public Health. He is a former SHINE fellow as part of the I-TIPP program and he helped author the3rd Annual Epidemiology-in-Review for Houston. He currently leads the ISDS R Group for Biosurveillance.
Follow him on Twitter @ericbakota
Jennifer Bernstein, JD, MPH
Jennifer Bernstein is the Deputy Director of the Network for Public Health Law’s Mid-States Region. In this position, she provides legal technical assistance to public health practitioners, attorneys and policymakers on a broad range of public health legal issues. She has expertise and has worked extensively on legal issues related to health information and data sharing. This includes legal matters related to HIPAA, FOIA, disease surveillance and eHealth. Jennifer has worked with state and local health departments to address legal barriers and enable the sharing of public health information.
David Blazes, MD, MPH
Dr. Blazes is Senior Program Office, Surveillance and Epidemiology, Vaccine Development, Global Health at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. His career in the military involved experience living and working in developing settings, complemented by several years at the Global Emerging Infections Surveillance program. During this time, he served on the Global Outreach committee and gave a keynote address at the 2007 ISDS meeting. Over the years, his research group has presented numerous posters and presentations at the annual meetings. His group also taught outbreak management across Latin America, serving as a bridge to the gold-standard Field Epidemiology Laboratory Training Program (FELTP).
Alina Deshpande, MS, PhD
Alina received her MS (1995) and PhD in Biomedical Sciences (2003) from the University of New Mexico, while working in the Bioscience Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). She has a BS in Microbiology from the University of Pune, India. Her doctoral research focused on genetic susceptibility of women in New Mexico to cervical cancer. As part of the project she developed a high throughput, multiplexed flow cytometry-based assay for identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms, genetic variations that contribute to disease susceptibility. She received a LANL director's funded post-doctoral fellowship in 2004 to pursue research on host-pathogen interactions of intracellular pathogens within the National Flow Cytometry Resource (NFCR). Specifically she used flow cytometry to characterize cholera toxin binding and internalization in human premonocytes, and performed quantitative characterization of protective antigen (component of anthrax lethal toxin) binding to receptors of various target human cells.
Alina has been a technical staff member at LANL since 2005 and has worked on projects including risk analysis for natural or intentional outbreaks of agricultural diseases, evaluation of mixed architecture systems for foreign animal disease surveillance and evaluation of technologies for non-destructive evaluation of chem, bio, and radioactive threat agents. She has also led projects on the development of multiplexed assays for human, animal and plant pathogen detection and characterization as well as human forensics, and currently runs the biological agent testing laboratory (BATL), an 1SO 17025 accredited facility for evaluation of vendor assays for the BioWatch program. Since 2010 Alina has also been a team leader for DTRA funded projects on the evaluation of traditional and non-traditional data streams for integrated global disease surveillance and development of decision support tools for enhancing situational awareness in infectious disease surveillance. She recently became group leader of the Biosecurity and Public Health group in the Bioscience Division. Alina is a reviewer for the Journal of Infectious Diseases, The International Journal of Cancer, Human Immunology, Plos One, Frontiers in Microbiology and the Journal of Medical Microbiology. She is a member of the International Society for Analytical Cytology (ISAC), the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the International Society for Disease Surveillance (ISDS). She has published over 45 peer reviewed articles and reports so far.
Brian Dixon, MPA, PhD, FACMI, FHIMSS
To be posted.
P. Joseph Gibson, MPH, PhD
Dr. Gibson is the Director of Epidemiology at the Marion County Public Health Department, serving Indianapolis, Indiana. He chairs the informatics workgroup for the national association of local health agencies (NACCHO) and has been active in various national public health informatics efforts, including serving as the first Chair of the BioSense Governance Group, where he represented ISDS. He also works with the Regenstrief Institute to create public health informatics tools that leverage the clinical health information exchange.
He has a Masters in Public Health with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health, and a doctorate in Epidemiology from the University of Washington, with a focus on access and use of health services. Before starting work at the Marion County Public Health Department in 2003, he spent 8 years working for the pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly and Company, doing quality of life and cost research related to medications for schizophrenia and other severe mental illnesses.
For over 10 years, Eric Lau has been involved in disease surveillance as an academia at the School of Public Health, University of Hong Kong. He is principal/co-investigator in several disease surveillance-related projects in human and animals, such as optimizing avian influenza surveillance strategy in live poultry markets, establishing electronic school absenteeism surveillance data, and designing digital dashboard for surveillance data dissemination.
Eric joined the International Society for Disease Surveillance (ISDS) and attended the conference in Raleigh in 2008. Since then he attended 6 of the 8 annual conferences and gave talks or presented posters in each of these conferences. Eric was getting more involved in the Society and became a member of the pre-conference planning committee in 2013 and 2014 and a member of the Scientific Program committee and Chair/co-chair of the Analytics/Methodologies Track for the conferences in 2015, 2016 and 2018. He also actively participated in different ISDS workgroups and committees, such as the social media workgroup, one health surveillance committee and the awards committee.
In his work Eric has collaborated with CDC at different levels in Hong Kong and mainland China and has active research on disease surveillance in human and animals, data quality, statistical algorithms for generating alerts, and epidemiological inferences from routine and multiple surveillance data streams. Eric has published over 80 peer-reviewed articles on statistics, epidemiology and disease surveillance, regularly reviews articles for multiple journals and serves as an editorial board member at PLOS ONE and BMC Infectious Diseases.
Wayne Loschen, MS
Mr. Loschen has been involved in the disease surveillance domain as the technical lead for the ESSENCE system at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) since 1999. Additionally, he has worked on numerous research initiatives with a variety of individuals from diverse backgrounds including epidemiology, mathematics, statistics, computer science, and others.
Loschen joined the society in 2005 when he attended his first conference in Seattle, Washington, and had since then been involved beyond just presenting at the conference. Starting with the Website Committee, Wayne has been periodically active in other committees and have helped support major ISDS project initiatives. While working with many jurisdictions Wayne has provided technical support for the Distribute project and contributed some technical expertise to the Meaningful Use working group. Additionally, he has presented at the conference close to 20 times since 2005, co-chaired the Informatics track of the scientific program committee for the 2012 conference, and was the chair for the 2013 scientific program committee.
Rendi Murphree, MS, PhD
As a CDC Career Epidemiology Field Officer assigned to "fix" syndromic surveillance for the Tennessee Department of Health in 2011, Rendi was very active in ISDS and the syndromic surveillance community of practice.
Once Rendi obtained funding and hired Caleb Wiedeman to run the new program in Tennessee, she continued to provide guidance but turned to other leadership roles in public health surveillance throughout the Department. She left in 2018 CDC and Tennessee to help re/build Syndromic Surveillance at the Alabama Department of Health.
Rendi gained experience in nonprofit governance while serving on the Board of Directors for the Tennessee Public Health Association for three years. She also served on the membership committee, strategic planning committee, and just completed a stint as scientific program chair for the TPHA annual meeting attended by more than 600 public health professionals. While she did not chair the fiscal review and performance evaluation committees for the TPHA Board of Directors, I did review budgets, audits, and evaluations as a voting member of the Board.
Vivek Singh, MPH, MBBS
Dr. Singh is a public health professional working with UNICEF as a Health Specialist in one of the high-burden regions of the country He received his MBBS degree from Government Medical College in Nagpur, Maharashtra, India and his MPH degree from Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA. He is also affiliated as an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Hubert Department of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. At Rollins, he co-teaches a 3 credit course titled ‘Transforming Public Health Surveillance’ and has also contributed to an Elsevier publication book with the same title, as an editor and author.
Dr. Singh has worked as a medical officer with the World Health Organization (WHO) led National Polio Surveillance Program (NPSP), now the National Public Health Surveillance Program (NPHSP), providing leadership and technical support to the state governments in various states in India. He has also worked as a consultant with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta's 'STOP' program, and the WHO country office in Kenya providing technical support to Kenya's polio eradication and disease surveillance programs. Dr. Singh was one of the founding members of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), and received his public health training at Emory University as a Future Faculty Fellow under an Association of Schools of Public health (ASPH), USA and PHFI collaborative partnership. At PHFI, Dr. Singh was involved in academics; research; public health practice and consulting. He led the training programs on field epidemiology; public health surveillance; public health emergency preparedness; and public health program management at the institute.
Dr. Singh led the report writing of the Joint Monitoring Mission of India’s Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP), led by the WHO in 2016. As a member of the working group, Dr. Singh has contributed to the development of guidance document on Early Warning and Response (EWAR) with a focus on Event-Based Surveillance (EBS) by the WHO Surveillance unit in Lyon. He has also led the Mid Term Review of the GAVI’s Health System Support (HSS) Phase 1 (2012-2017) grant to India.
As a member of the ISDS, Dr. Singh has played a critical role in increasing the global outreach of the Society. He has been a member of the Scientific Program Committee for annual conferences and the co-chair for the public health surveillance practice track since 2012. He was instrumental in forging partnerships between PHFI and ISDS and in contributing to the Society's membership in the WHO's Global Health Workforce Alliance. He is also a steering committee member of the Asia Alliance on Global Health (AAGH), an alliance with a vision for better health in Asia through global interactions.