Commissioned Corps officers honored

Published on December 17, 2014
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Dr. Barbara Knust​ Dr. Gregg Langham​ Dr. Clara J. Witt

The U.S. Public Health Service honored three Commis­sioned Corps officers in September. 

Dr. Barbara Knust received the 2013 Junior Veterinary Officer of the Year award. She is a lieutenant commander assigned to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Viral Special Pathogens Branch. 

In 2012, Dr. Knust responded to six simultaneous outbreaks involving high-consequence zoonotic viruses, including Ebola, lymphocytic choriomeningitis, and hantavirus, and she worked to share findings from those outbreaks through government agencies and nongovernmental organizations. She also has provided technical assistance on Nipah virus and Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever in Bangladesh and Kazakhstan, respectively. And she organized a discussion among state and territorial epidemiologists about hantavirus surveillance, as well as performed studies on the virus and authored a hantavirus review article that appeared in the December 2013 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases. 

Dr. Knust was recognized for accomplishments over the past year and for exemplary officership and professional development.

Dr. Gregg Langham received the 2013 Veterinary Responder of the Year award. He is a commander who works for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and he was honored for providing veterinary care, education, public health training, and other assistance during national and international deployments and disaster responses since 2003.

He addressed critical public health issues following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and provided disaster response that included food, supplies, and water when Hurricane Gustav hit Haiti in 2008. He has also dewormed cattle and other animals through the Presidential Partnership of the Americas humanitarian mission, trained veterinary students in El Salvador and Peru on public health, and completed certifications for responding to man-made threats.

He was honored for his dedication and contributions to public health preparedness and response.

Dr. Clara J. Witt received the 2014 James H. Steele One Health Outstanding PHS Veterinary Career Award.

She received the award following 20 years of service as a Commissioned Corps officer, during which she served national and international public health agencies including the USPHS, Department of Defense, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, World Health Organization, and National Cancer Institute. She retired from active duty July 1, 2014, as a captain in the USPHS Commissioned Corps.

Dr. Witt has provided expertise on biosecurity needed for work related to dangerous pathogens, expanded and administered a surveillance program for early detection of and notification about outbreaks of infectious diseases, represented the Department of Health and Human Services in public health policy and program meetings in South Africa, promoted pandemic influenza preparedness, worked in connection with the U.S. response to infections with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in South Africa, provided technical expertise on disease prevention and laboratory animal medicine to the WHO and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, mentored junior officers and future public health professionals, performed research and published research findings, and had a substantial impact on national and international recognition of veterinarians as integral partners in public health.

Dr. Witt was honored for dedication and contributions to public health and veterinary medicine.