37 honored for Ebola response, two given individual awards

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Lt. Schafer
Lt. Ilana Schafer
Capt. Miller
Capt. Marissa A. Miller

Thirty-seven U.S. government veterinarians on an Ebola response team shared an honor for their work to control spread of the virus.

And individual honors went to two veterinarians, one of whom was part of the Ebola response team.

The officers of the U.S. Public Health Service Veterinary Ebola Response Team are members of the largest group to receive the service’s Commissioned Corps Veterinary Responder of the Year Award. They work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, and National Institutes of Health.

The awards were given in Septem­ber 2015 in honor of contributions during 2014.

“During the 2014 Ebola epidemic, CDC deployed teams of public health experts to West Africa, activated its Emergency Operations Center, and worked with other U.S. government agencies, the World Health Organization (WHO), domestic, and international partners to control the spread of Ebola both here and abroad,” the announcement states. “USPHS veterinarians were involved in all of these efforts.”

In Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the United States, those officers worked to investigate the outbreak, develop vaccines and therapeutics, prevent virus spread through airports, identify infected people and those who may have been in contact with the virus, coordinate responders, describe for others what was happening, develop guidance on animal isolation and testing, and aid development of medical products and diagnostic tests, among other duties.

Those honored were Lt. Laura Adams, Capt. Fred Angulo, Cmdr. Heather Bair-Brake, Capt. Kris Bisgard, Cmdr. Casey Barton Behravesh, Cmdr. Sherry Burrer, Cmdr. Bryan Buss, Lt. Lizette Durand, Lt. Cmdr. Laura Edison, Lt. Cmdr. Mark Freedman, Capt. Renee Funk, Capt. Gale Galland, Capt. Donald Gardner, Capt. John Gibbins, Capt. Marta Guerra, Cmdr. Christa Hale, Lt Reid Harvey, Cmdr. Stacy Holzbauer, Capt. Estella Jones, Lt. Cmdr. Rachael Joseph, Lt. Craig Kiebler, Cmdr. Barbara Knust, Cmdr. Richard Luce, Capt. Jennifer McQuiston, Capt. Dan O’Leary, Capt. John Painter, Lt. Cmdr. Amy Peterson, Lt. Misha Robyn, Capt. Leigh Sawyer, Lt. Ilana Schafer, Lt. Cmdr. Ann Schmitz, Cmdr. Evan Shukan, Cmdr. Julie Sinclair, Capt. Brianna Skinner, Lt. Cmdr. Ethel Taylor, Capt. Tracee Treadwell, and Capt. Jennifer Wright.

One of those honored, Dr. Schafer, also received the 2014 Commissioned Corps Junior Veterinary Officer of the Year Award for her work for the U.S. Public Health Service and the CDC. She guided epidemiological studies and data management in the three West African countries during the Ebola outbreak, another announcement states.

Dr. Schafer, who now works in the Bacterial Special Pathogens Branch at the CDC, led the team that developed software used to manage data on people infected with Ebola or in contact with those infected. The software has become fundamental in the international response to the disease, the announcement states.

She also has trained others on using that software, performing Ebola surveillance, and collecting data, and she has consulted state epidemiologists and health professionals on suspected infections with hazardous viruses, led an investigation into a lymphocytic choriomeningitis outbreak, designed studies of hazardous virus epidemiology and given presentations on those studies, and authored CDC publications.

Capt. Marissa A. Miller, chief of the Advanced Technologies and Surgery Branch in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, received the 2015 James H. Steele One Health Outstanding PHS Veterinary Career Award for work across multiple agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services in scientific assignments with national and international scope.

Her success has been related to “her ability to bring groups together behind insightful approaches to challenging public health issues,” an announcement states.

At the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Dr. Miller’s most notable achievement has been leading and directing the Cardiothoracic Surgical Trials Network, a program created to design, conduct, and analyze clinical trials that evaluate surgical interventions and related management approaches, the announcement states.

In Dr. Miller’s previous work, she helped add pediatric potassium iodide to the Strategic National Stockpile in case needed for radiation exposure, develop a plan to buy anthrax antitoxin that since has been added to the stockpile, develop the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System, plan for an influenza pandemic, and investigate a methamphetamine abuse trend.

Related JAVMA content:

In the hot zone (May 1, 2015)

Once ‘over there,’ Ebola now here (Dec. 1, 2014)