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Members & Staff

The Tick-Borne Disease Working Group has 14 members - seven federal members and seven public members. Federal members represent the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, and other federal agencies or offices the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determines appropriate. Public members represent the following categories: 1) physicians and other medical providers with experience in diagnosing and treating tick-borne diseases; 2) scientists or researchers with expertise; 3) patients and their family members; and 4) nonprofit organizations that advocate for patients with respect to tick-borne diseases.

David Hughes Walker, MD (Co-Chair)

Photo of David Walker

 

Professor, Department of Pathology
The Carmage and Martha Walls Distinguised University in Tropical Diseases
Executive Director, UTMB Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases
(Special Government Employee)
Term: 6/4/19 to 6/3/21

 

Dr. Walker diagnosed his first case of Rocky Mountain spotted fever as an acting intern in pediatrics at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He determined that his career research focus would be rickettsial diseases as a U.S. Public Health Service officer at CDC. As a faculty member at the University of North Carolina, he developed a research program on rickettsial immunity, pathogenesis, and diagnosis. He developed an acute skin biopsy immunohistochemical diagnostic method for Rocky Mountain spotted fever which he applied to scores of patients whose courses he followed. He characterized the renal, pulmonary, hepatic, cardiac, gastrointestinal, and neurological pathology and pathophysiology of the disease. At the University of Texas Medical Branch he characterized the mechanisms of immunity and immunopathogenesis of rickettsial and ehrlichial infections, the epidemiology of human monocytotropic ehrlichiosis, and played a critical role in the discovery of human granulocytic anaplasmosis. He has been funded by NIH to study rickettsial and ehrlichial diseases since 1979 and has trained scores of students, fellows, and visiting scientists from around the world, establishing centers of excellence in research particularly in Latin America.

His interest in Lyme disease predates discovery of Borrelia burgdorferi. Long after his father’s death, Dr. Walker determined that it was caused by an arrhythmia associated with chronic Lyme disease lesions in his cardiac conduction system that followed a skin lesion misdiagnosed as shingles, a series of unexplained cardiac arrhythmias, and a prolonged life-changing period of incapacitating arthritis. Dr. Walker is currently Chair of the Programmatic Panel on the congressionally mandated Department of Defense managed Tick Borne Diseases Research Program.

Leigh Ann Soltysiak, MS (Co-Chair)

Photo of Leigh Anne Soltysiak

 

Owner, Principal, Silverleaf Consulting, LLC
Adjunct Professor, Stevens Institute of Technology, Entrepreneurship Thinking
(Special Government Employee)
Term: 6/4/19 to 6/3/21

 

Ms. Soltysiak is a Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease advocate, after recovering from a 2013 diagnosis. She was selected by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the inaugural Tick-Borne Disease Working Group (TBDWG), Vaccines and Therapeutics Subcommittee, helping make recommendations to address the Tick-Borne Disease epidemic to Congress, as part of the 21st Century Cures Act. In addition to living as a recovered patient, Ms. Soltysiak worked for over 25 years within the healthcare/life-science industry, specializing in commercialization/new product strategy. She is a 19-year veteran of Johnson & Johnson (J&J), having held positions across all facets of commercialization (specialty sales, sales management, front-end innovation, global strategic marketing, brand strategy, portfolio planning). During her J&J tenure, she worked across multiple sectors and therapeutic areas, achieving significant global launch leader experience, business expertise and coveted awards. She earned her Master of Science (M.S.) in Integrated Marketing Communications, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Advertising, Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University.

Ms. Soltysiak is the Founder, Principal of Silverleaf Consulting, LLC (2015-present), where she advises health and consumer companies. In addition, she serves as an Adjunct Professor, Entrepreneurship Thinking, Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey and as Mentor for the Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) Program, Stevens Venture Center. Ms. Soltysiak enjoys serving on The Enright Melanoma Foundation (EMF) board of directors and formerly the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) board (2004-2007; 2016-2017). Ms. Soltysiak resides in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area with her family.

Charles Benjamin (Ben) Beard, PhD

 

Deputy Director, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Associate Editor, Emerging Infectious Diseases
(Regular Government Employee)

 

Dr. Beard earned a B.S. in 1980 at Auburn University, a M.S. in 1983 at the Louisiana State University School of Medicine, and a Ph.D. in 1987 at the University of Florida. He was a post-doctoral fellow and associate research scientist at the Yale University School of Medicine from 1987 to 1991. In 1991, he joined CDC’s Division of Parasitic Diseases, where he served as Chief of the Vector Genetics Section from 1999 to 2003. In 2003, he moved to CDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases in Fort Collins, CO to become Chief of the Bacterial Diseases Branch. In this capacity, he coordinated CDC’s programs on Lyme borreliosis, tick-borne relapsing fever, Bartonella, plague, and tularemia. During his tenure at CDC, Dr. Beard has worked in the prevention of vector-borne diseases, both in the domestic and global arenas. In addition to his work as Chief of the Bacterial Diseases Branch, in 2011 Dr. Beard was appointed as the Associate Director for Climate Change in CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, where he coordinated CDC’s efforts to mitigate the potential impact of climate variability and disruption on infectious diseases in humans. In 2017, he was appointed as the Acting Deputy Director of CDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases. He has published over 125 scientific papers, books, and book chapters collectively, and has served on a variety of committees and panels both inside and outside of CDC, including working groups or advisory panels for the World Health Organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the American Meteorological Society. He is an Associate Editor for Emerging Infectious Diseases and past president of the Society for Vector Ecology and served as Deputy Incident Manager for CDC’s Zika virus outbreak response.

Commander Rebecca Bunnell, MPAS, PA-C

 

Senior Advisor
Learning and Diffusion Group, Innovation Center
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
(Regular Government Employee)

 

Commander (CDR) Bunnell is a physician assistant in the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) and serves as a Senior Advisor within the Learning and Diffusion Group at the CMS Innovation Center. CDR Bunnell was commissioned in the USPHS in 1998 and began her career caring for immigrants with a multitude of infectious diseases within the health services units of what is now the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. On her path to the Innovation Center, she also worked in a preventive medicine clinic at a Federally Qualified Health Center and with the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Bureau of Primary Health Care. CDR Bunnell also spent a significant period of her career in emergency preparedness and response, working for the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response’s Hospital Preparedness Program and in the Office of the Surgeon General’s Office of the Inactive Reserve. Throughout all of these assignments CDR Bunnell has remained committed to the response effort on an individual basis, responding to various hurricanes, screening and medically managing influxes of immigrants, and providing medical support for high security events such as the State of the Union Addrress.

Scott Palmer Commins, BS, MD, PhD

Photo of Scott Commins

 

Associate Professor of Medicine & Pediatrics
University of North Carolina
Member, UNC Food Allergy Initiative
Thurston Research Center
(Special Government Employee)
Term: 6/4/19 to 12/2/20

 

Dr. Commins is currently an Associate Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he is a member of the UNC Food Allergy Initiative and the Thurston Research Center. Dr. Commins maintains an active research program and clinical practice. The focus of his research is a carbohydrate, alpha-gal, which was described as a novel food allergen in red meat in 2009. Patients can develop alpha-gal allergy after years of safely tolerating beef, pork or lamb. These allergic reactions are characteristically delayed 3-6 hours after eating red meat - making the diagnosis of alpha-gal food allergy difficult. Development of alpha-gal allergy has been linked to tick bites and awareness of this unique allergy continues to increase with patients described throughout Europe, Scandinavia, Central & South America, Australia, South Africa and Asia. The significance of investigating these reactions comes not only from the obvious importance of understanding a novel, life-threatening form of food allergy but also in defining an entirely new mechanism for sensitization (tick bites) and reactions related to an important food substance.

Dr. Commins received a B.S. in Biology from Wake Forest University, and M.D. and Ph.D. (Biochemistry & Molecular Biology) from the Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston, SC). Following a residency in Internal Medicine, Dr. Commins completed a fellowship in Allergy and Clinical Immunology at The University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA). Dr. Commins is an active member of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology where he serves on the food allergy and anaphylaxis committee.

Angel M. Davey, PhD

 

Program Manager
Tick-Borne Disease Research Program
Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs
U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
(Regular Government Employee)

 

Dr. Davey is the Program Manager for the Tick-Borne Disease Research Program (TBDRP) at the DoD Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs.  She is also serves as the Program Manager for the Defense Medical Research and Development Program (DMRDP) Accelerating Innovation in Military Medicine (AIMM) initiative and as Program Area Liaison for the Military Infectious Diseases Research Program/Joint Program Committee-2 (JPC-2) and the Radiation Health Effects Research Program/JPC-7. As Program Manager, Dr. Davey provides strategic coordination for execution of the TBDRP Congressional appropriation and Defense Health Program Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) appropriations allocated to the DMRDP AIMM initiative.  As Program Area Liaison, she coordinates with the JPCs to manage funding opportunities under the DMRDP, provides programmatic support, and oversees research awards in these areas.  Dr. Davey earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Shepherd University and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the Pennsylvania State University, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in the Laboratory of Immunogenetics and a fellowship in the NIAID Office of Technology Development.

Dennis M. Dixon, PhD

 

Chief, Bacteriology and Mycology Branch
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
(Regular Government Employee)

 

Dr. Dixon is Chief of the Bacteriology and Mycology Branch, NIAID, NIH. He serves on numerous advisory panels on dangerous pathogens such as Select Agents and Dual Use Research and also antimicrobial resistance, including the Trans-Atlantic Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance and the Presidential Advisory Committee for Combatting Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria. He also serves on the Joint Oversight Committee for the Combatting Antibacterial Resistance Accelerator (CARB-X). His doctorate in microbiology is from the Medical College of Virginia. He held academic positions at Loyola College in Baltimore, the University of Maryland Medical School and Albany Medical College. He was a Visiting Scientist at Hoffman LaRoche, Switzerland, and was Director for the Mycology Reference Laboratory, New York State Department of Health. He is a member of the American Academy of Microbiology. His areas of expertise and leadership oversight in addition to the preceding policy issues are: all fungal diseases of humans and many bacterial infections in humans including Lyme disease, other zoonotic diseases including biodefense pathogens, and most “hospital acquired” bacterial pathogens.

Sam T. Donta, MD

Photo of Sam Donta

 

Professor of Medicine (retired)
Consultant, Infectious Diseases
(Special Government Employee)
Term: 6/4/19 to 12/2/20

 

Dr. Donta grew up in Western Pennsylvania, was valedictorian of his Beaver Falls High School class of 351 students, received his BS from Allegheny College, his MD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine (where is received the Mosby Award for clinical excellence), did an internship/residency in Internal Medicine at University of Pittsburgh Hospitals, served in the Air Force at Otis AFB, MA, did post-doctoral training in Biochemistry at Brandeis University, and a Fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Boston University, focusing his interest on microbial toxins.  He then went to the University of Iowa where he became Professor of Medicine and Chief of Infectious Diseases, was there for 11 years, then went to the University of Connecticut for 11 years as Chief of Infectious Diseases, and Chief of Medicine at the VA, during which time he developed both a clinical and research interest in Lyme disease. He subsequently did post-graduate work in molecular medicine at Boston University, then moved there, joining the faculty in Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine, and established a Lyme disease center to further conduct clinical and research studies on Lyme disease. He was also on the staff at the Boston VA, from which base he chaired two multicenter VA sponsored cooperative studies on Gulf War Illness. During his academic career, he served on an NIH study section, and chaired another ad hoc NIH study section. After his retirement from academic medicine, he continued a clinical practice in Boston and Falmouth MA, concentrating on Lyme disease. Since his retirement from active clinical practice, he remains active as a consultant in infectious diseases at Falmouth Hospital, and serves on a number of county, states, and national committees related to Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. He most recently served on the DoD’s Tick Borne Disease Research programmatic review panel, and has served on the HHS Working Group subcommittee on the pathogenesis and treatment of Lyme disease. He is the author of 100-plus scientific publications on toxins, Lyme disease, and Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses.

Captain Estella Jones, DVM

Captain Estella Jones photo

 

Deputy Director
Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
(Regular Government Employee)

 

Captain Jones is the Deputy Director of the Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats in the Office of the Commissioner at the FDA. She currently serves as Chairperson for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Integrated Research Facility Animal Care and Use Committee at Fort Detrick and represents the FDA on the National Interagency Confederation for Biological Research (NICBR) Fort Detrick Interagency Coordinating Committee (FDICC). She previously worked at the World Health Organization at the Institute for Primate Research in Nairobi, Kenya and held a faculty appointment in Comparative Medicine and Anesthesiology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Captain Jones served at the National Institutes of Health for 10 years and at the FDA for 14 years. She has also served as Director of Workforce Policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, HHS, working with Department of Defense's Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs and the Pentagon. She concurrently serves on the White House Subcommittee for Disaster Reduction, which advises the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Adalberto (Beto) Pérez de León, DVM, PhD, MS

Photo of Beto Perez de Leon

 

Director, Knipling-Bushland U.S. Livestock Insects Research Laboratory
Agricultural Research Service
United States Department of Agriculture
(Regular Government Employee)

 

 

Dr. Pérez de León is a veterinarian and vector biologist with more than 30 years of experience in the research and development of technologies for integrated pest management. He has been a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association for 26 years. He contributed to advancement of the management of ticks and tick-borne diseases through international collaborations enabled by work in the private sector and federal research laboratory. His appointment as adjunct faculty allows the training and development of talent in aspects of tick biology and ecology that influence tick-host-pathogen interactions. Scientific endeavors during the last decade resulted in breakthroughs in the control and eradication of ticks of veterinary and public health importance. Dr. Pérez de León's interest in transdisciplinary research translated into the sequencing of genomes of economically important tick vectors of zoonotic diseases. This genomic information is mined to innovate control technologies. A systems approach facilitates the application of the One Health concept to research towards the adaptation of best practices for areawide tick management to prevent tick-borne diseases.

Robert Sabatino

Robert Sabatino

 

Founder and Executive Director of Lyme Society Inc.
(Special Government Employee)
Term: May 2, 2018 to August 2, 2019

 

 

Mr. Sabatino is the Founder and Executive Director of Lyme Society Inc., the New York State affiliate partner of Lyme Disease Association. As a patient and advocate he contributes a unique perspective to legislation, education, and awareness. As a patient his focus is on the life and struggles of patients and treatments in society today. He retired from the New York City Police Department, where he specialized in Drug Enforcement, Addiction Services, Community Outreach and Domestic Violence Awareness. He is a founding member of the Staten Island patients support group and is an active member of Rolling Thunder New York Chapter 2, an awareness and support organization for veterans.

In His Own Words: "Being a chronic late stage Lyme disease fighter with co-infections, I personally get the side of the patient. It is very hard sometimes to see thru current situations, but I see a positive shift in our community. All sides are coming to the table to listen, research and make a change in this country."

Eugene David Shapiro, MD

Photo of Eugene Shapiro

 

Professor of Pediatrics, Epidemiology, and Investigative Medicine
Yale University School of Medicine
Vice Chair for Research, Department of Pediatrics
Co-Director of Education, Yale Center for Clinical Investigation
Deputy Director, Yale PhD Program in Investigative Medicine
(Special Government Employee)
Term: 6/4/19 to 12/2/20

Dr. Shapiro received a BA from Yale College and an MD from the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. He did a residency in Pediatrics and a fellowship in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, after which he completed a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars fellowship (a fellowship in Clinical Epidemiology). He joined the faculty at Yale University where he is now Professor of Pediatrics, of Epidemiology, and of Investigative Medicine. He is Vice Chair for Research of the Department of Pediatrics, Co-Director of Education for the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation and Deputy Director of Yale's PhD Program in Investigative Medicine.  Dr. Shapiro has had a long-standing interest in tick-borne diseases, and in Lyme disease in particular, an interest that grew out of his experiences caring for patients with Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. Among his particular interests are prevention of Lyme disease as well as issues related to diagnostic tests.

Patricia V. Smith

Photo of Patricia Smith

 

President, Lyme Disease Association, Inc.
(Special Government Employee)
Term: 6/4/19 to 12/2/20

 

 

Pat graduated from Monmouth University and has a diverse background in tick-borne diseases (TBD) which ranges from being the parent of two children who developed Lyme disease−one Babesia co-infected − to having devoted about 35 years educating the public, government policy makers, businesses, schools (students & teachers) and health care providers on TBD. She has provided education to physicians and researchers through the Lyme Disease Association, Inc. (LDA) 19 annual Continuing Medical Education (CME) conferences, most jointly provided by Columbia University, for which she has been conference organizer and Program Committee member. Significant interaction with researchers there and overseeing the LDA research grant selection process over her 20-plus years as president of the national non-profit as a volunteer, has seen LDA’s grant support to researchers in the U.S. translated into 50 peer-reviewed journal articles on topics ranging from basic to translational and clinical research. The position has provided opportunities for her to work with federal agencies on TBD, and she is the LDA representative to the EPA’s Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program which works on tick avoidance. Her background as a former 12-year Board of Education member, including president, enabled her to write and interpret policies, understand budgets, and navigate government regulations, and most importantly, taught her to work with diverse groups of people. She has travelled all over the country speaking to and meeting with patients and their families, and that coupled with her own family’s experience and helping friends to chart a course through their TBD, enables her to have a perspective of what patients really experience with the disease, with the politics, and with the healthcare system that is disproportionately unfriendly to Lyme patients. She has also spent time researching and presenting dozens of PowerPoint presentations around the U.S. on the epidemiology of the approximate 20 tick-borne diseases/conditions.

Additionally, she coordinates the LDA umbrella network, LDAnet, of 40-plus Lyme groups across the U.S. who work together educating and supporting research and patients. Her knowledge of TBD, the health care system, government processes, relationships with many major players in the field of TBD, and the communication skill set she has developed have enabled her to navigate the politics and the science of Lyme & TBD and led to her helping to write and to pass both federal and states’ legislation in the U.S. She is also a member of the TBD Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programmatic Panel which provides grants through the Department of Defense, is a member of the Columbia University Lyme & Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center Advisory Committee, just completed a term on the first Tick-Borne Diseases Working Group, has testified twice before Congress on Lyme disease, and is a past Chair of the (NJ) Governor’s Lyme Disease Advisory Council.

Leith Jason States, MD, MPH (FMF)

Photo of Leith States

 

Deputy Chief Medical Officer
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
(Regular Government Employee)

 

A native of Los Angeles, California, Leith States received his bachelors degree from Azusa Pacific University, masters degree in public health from the Loma Linda University School of Public Health, and his medical degree from the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine. He received internship training in Internal Medicine at the Naval Medical Center San Diego, and completed residency training in Preventive Medicine at Loma Linda University Medical Center, serving as Chief Resident in his final year of training.

From 2011 to 2013, States served as Battalion Surgeon for 1st Battalion, 1 Marines, 1st Marine Division, where he deployed in support of combat operations during Operation Enduring Freedom. He directed a medical department consisting of one physician assistant, two Independent Duty Corpsmen, and over sixty Navy Corpsmen in garrison and combat-related care for over 1200 United States Marines. From September 2015 to July 2018 he was assigned to Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit FIVE where he served as Department Head for Operations, Officer in Charge for the Forward Deployable Preventive Medicine Unit - team FIVE, and the Navy Medicine West Public Health Emergency Officer, providing public health expertise to an active duty population of over 500,000 spread across the Pacific Command region. He currently serves at the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the OASH working on issues of national public health importance for the ASH. 

States is board certified in Preventive Medicine, and is a current member of the American College of Preventive Medicine. He has published previously on pediatric oncology molecular biology, and has been actively involved with development and implementation of clinical programs aimed at improving preventive care services delivery to veterans living with HIV/AIDS. He has also served as a fellow with the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, HHS, engaging in research on patient-centered health information technology. His personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and multiple unit and campaign awards.

Alternate Federal Representatives

Chien-Chung Chao, PhD

Photo of Chien-Chung-Chao

 

Research Chemist
Viral and Rickettsial Diseases Department Infectious Diseases Directorate
Naval Medical Research Center
U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
(Regular Government Employee)

 

Dr. Chao has had more than 15 years of experience in studying rickettsiae and rickettsial diseases with extensive experience in developing and evaluating O. tsutsugamushi vaccine candidates, diagnostics, genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and biology in Leptrombidium mites, and murine models of scrub typhus, and surveillance studies of tick-borne rickettsiae in Asia, Central America and Africa. He began his career as a Biochemist to understand free radical-dependent cellular damages in cancer and aging. His career took a turn in 2002 when he joined the Rickettsial Diseases Department of the Naval Medical Research Center. Since 2002, he has been involved in research on rickettsial epidemiology, pathogenesis, and immunology as well as in the development and evaluation of rickettsial diagnostic assays and vaccine candidates. He has been a steering committee member of the DoD Rickettsial Diseases Research Program since 2007. Dr. Chao also served as a Deputy Research Coordinator of the Diagnostic Systems of Military Infectious Diseases Research Program from 2007 – 2018, focusing on the development of Food and Drug Administration approved field-deployable diagnostic assays for vector-borne diseases.

Captain Scott J. Cooper, MMSc, PA-C

Photo of Captain Scott Cooper

 

Senior Technical Advisor and Lead Officer for Medicare Hospital Health and Safety Regulations
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
(Regular Government Employee)

 

 

Captain Cooper is a physician assistant (PA) officer in the United States Public Health Service (USPHS). Since 2003, he has been assigned to the CMS, where he is the senior technical advisor and the lead officer responsible for the Medicare health and safety regulations for the nation’s nearly 5,000 hospitals. During this time, he has been responsible for the publication of numerous national hospital rules aimed at improving patient safety and care, but which still allow hospitals the flexibility to employ evidence-based “best practices” in their efforts to provide higher quality patient care at a reasonable cost.

In 2013, Captain Cooper completed a long-term special assignment to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands where he served as the first compliance officer and special advisor for the Commonwealth’s only hospital, which was struggling to address significant patient safety and quality of care issues. Additionally, Captain Cooper has over a decade of experience responding to various public health emergencies throughout the nation; most recently, he was part of the USPHS response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas and prior to that he served as the mission chief for a team that responded to a suicide epidemic on an Indian reservation in South Dakota in 2015.

In addition to being stationed with the Federal Bureau of Prisons early in his public health career, Captain Cooper also has extensive clinical experience working with patients in private sector hospitals, primarily in the specialty of cardiac surgery, with over 20 years of experience as a PA. He graduated from the Emory University School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program in 1996 with a Master of Medical Science degree.

David A. Leiby, PhD

photo of David Leiby

Chief, Product Review Branch
Division of Emerging & Transfusion-Transmitted Diseases
Office of Blood Research & Review (OBRR)
Center for Biologics Evaluation & Research (CBER)
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
(Regular Government Employee)

 

Dr. Leiby is currently the Chief of the Product Review Branch, OBRR/CBER, at the FDA.  Prior to 2015, he was affiliated with the American Red Cross, where he was the Head of the Transmissible Diseases Department at the Jerome H. Holland Laboratory for the Biomedical Sciences in Rockville, Maryland.  Throughout his career Dr. Leiby's research has focused on parasitic infections, most notably the impact of Chagas’ disease, tick-borne pathogens and malaria in blood donors.  In 2017, he organized and directed a workshop on Emerging Tick-Borne Diseases and Blood Safety held on the NIH campus.  Dr.  Leiby has published more than 90 refereed papers and book chapters and is frequently invited both nationally and internationally to speak at meetings and institutions. Dr. Leiby received a B.S. in Biology from Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania, a M.S. in Biology from Rutgers University, Camden, New Jersey, and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Zoology from the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.  He was a National Research Council, Postdoctoral Resident Research Associate in the Cellular Immunology Department at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington, D.C. Dr. Leiby also is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Microbiology and Tropical Medicine at the George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

CDR Todd Myers PhD, HCLD (ABB), MB (ASCP)

Photo of Todd Myers

 

Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats (OCET)
Office of the Chief Scientist, Office of the Commissioner
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
(Regular Government Employee)

 

Dr. Todd Myers is a Commander in the Public Health Service. He is currently stationed within the FDA's Office of the Chief Scientists in the Office of Counter Terrorism and Emerging Threats. Prior to joining OCET, CDR Myers had served as a scientific reviewer within the FDA’s Center for Diagnostics and Radiological Health in the Division of Microbiology Devices. Prior to coming to the FDA, CDR Myers spent 8 years working with the Naval Medical Research Center of which he was a principle investigator for clinical infectious disease research and global surveillance and the clinical laboratory director of the Naval Infectious Diseases Diagnostic Laboratory (NIDDL). Prior to working at NIDDL, CDR Myers served as the head of clinical microbiology at the National Naval Medical Center.  He is an expert in clinical virology and vector borne diseases and molecular diagnostics. Dr. Myers has exceptional knowledge in developing assays from bench to bedside and engaging in disease surveillance. Dr. Myers has a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from University of Maryland and is board certified as a High Complexity Clinical Laboratory Director from the American Board of Bioanalysis and a technologist certification in Molecular Biology and Molecular Pathology from the American Society of Clinical Pathology.

Samuel S. Perdue, PhD

Sam Perdue, NIH alternate for Tick-Borne Disease Working Group

 

Section Chief, Basic Sciences and Program Officer, Rickettsial and Related Diseases
Bacteriology and Mycology Branch, Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
(Regular Government Employee)

 

Dr. Perdue is Chief of the Basic Sciences Section within the Bacteriology and Mycology Branch, NIAID, NIH. This section comprises program officials who oversee NIAID extramural research funding in Lyme disease, other bacterial zoonoses, hospital infections, antibacterial resistance, medical mycology and biodefense. Dr. Perdue also serves as NIAID’s program officer for rickettsial and related diseases, where he has primary responsibility for the institute’s grants on Rickettsia, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, Bartonella and Coxiella species, among others. During nearly 20 years of commitment to tick-borne diseases research, he has served as a subject matter expert for numerous advisory panels and working groups.

Dr. Perdue’s interest in tick-borne diseases spans pathogen, human and vector biology. He received his M.S. in biology from Virginia Commonwealth University, studying insect physiology, and his Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Virginia.

Susanna N. Visser, DrPH, MS

photo of susanna visser

 

Associate Director for Policy, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
(Regular Government Employee)

 

 

During CDC’s 2016-2017 Zika Emergency Response, Dr. Visser served as Partnerships Lead for the Partnerships Team within the Policy and Partnerships Unit. Before her deployment to the level-1 Emergency Response, Dr. Visser served as Lead Epidemiologist of CDC’s Child Development Studies Team for over a decade in which she specialized in the direction of multi-site community-based studies of mental and behavioral disorders of children. Dr. Visser received her Doctorate in Public Health and Master of Science in Epidemiology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She led an agency initiative to improve the treatment of behavioral disorders in young children, using policy-based and evidence-based intervention methods. She served as the committee epidemiologist for the American Academy of Pediatrics’ 2006-2016 ADHD diagnostic and treatment guidelines committee. She has content area expertise in the policy and epidemiology of externalizing disorders and best practices for the diagnosis and treatment of these disorders. Her technical expertise includes the design and analysis of population-based epidemiological studies of neurobehavioral and mental health conditions. Lead author publications include research related to generating population-based estimates of ADHD, rates of medication treatment among youth with ADHD, and factors associated with ADHD medication treatment. She has served as the Principal Investigator of community-based epidemiologic studies of mental disorders of childhood, a national follow-back survey of children with ADHD and Tourette syndrome, and has participated in several federal, longitudinal research projects investigating developmental outcomes of youth with physical and social risk factors. She received the 2014 Maternal Child Health Epidemiology Young Professionals Achievement Award from the Coalition for Excellence in MCH Epidemiology.

Designated Federal Officers

Efforts of the Working Group are managed and supported by the Designated Federal Officer (DFO) and the Alternate DFO. These individuals are not voting members of the Working Group.

James J. Berger, MS, MT (ASCP), SBB

 

Designated Federal Officer (DFO), Tick-Borne Disease Working Group
Senior Blood and Tissue Policy Advisor
Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

 

James Berger is the Senior Blood and Tissue Policy Advisor to HHS Assistant Secretary of Health in the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, as well as the DFO of the Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability. He is also the HHS representative to the International Hemovigilance Network and to the AABB Interorganizational Task Force on Domestic Disasters and Acts of Terrorism, which ensures that blood and tissue products are available and delivered to areas that need support.

Before joining HHS, Mr. Berger was a National Enforcement Officer with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), where he was in charge of ensuring that VA laboratories met all regulatory and accrediting requirements. Mr. Berger was Chief of the U.S. Air Force Blood Program before he retired in 1998, after 25 years of service.
 
Mr. Berger has a master’s degree in both immunohematology and applied biology from Ohio’s Bowling Green State University and a master’s degree in guidance and counseling from Alabama’s Troy State University.

B. Kaye Hayes, MPA

Headshot of B. Kaye Hayes

 

Alternate Designated Federal Officer (DFO), Tick-Borne Disease Working Group
Deputy Director
Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

 

Kaye Hayes has been the Executive Director and DFO for the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) since 2012. Before her appointment with PACHA, Ms. Hayes served as the Acting Deputy Director and Senior Advisor for Policy for the Office on Women's Health (OWH) within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health. Among her responsibilities at OWH were the formulation of budget, performance, and policy initiatives for the office, as well as management improvement and strategic planning. Prior to joining the OWH staff, Ms. Hayes served as Special Assistant to then-Assistant Secretary for Health and Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher. She also has worked as the Extramural Community Liaison for the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Ms. Hayes received a bachelor's degree in rhetoric and communication studies from the University of Virginia and a master's degree in public administration from Georgia State University, with a concentration in strategic management and human resource management. While in graduate school, she was selected as a Presidential Management Fellow and completed her 2-year assignment at CDC, National AIDS Information and Education Program.

 

 

 

Content created by Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy
Content last reviewed on May 21, 2018