2010 Conference Speaker Bios | International Society for Disease Surveillance


Sam Groseclose, DVM, MPH, Dipl. ACVPM (Epidemiology) (Acting Director)

Dr. Sam Groseclose is Acting Director of the Division of Healthcare Information in CDC’s Public Health Surveillance Program Office. The Division manages the BioSense Program, an all-hazards, near real-time electronic surveillance system, and the CDC component of the Distribute project, an emergency department-based influenza-like illness surveillance initiative rapidly expanded in response to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic; evaluates the utility of electronic health data for surveillance and healthcare services monitoring; and works with state and local partners to enhance their surveillance capabilities in support of regional and national situation awareness.

From 2003 to 2010, Dr. Groseclose served as chief of the Statistics and Data Management Branch in the Division of STD Prevention, CDC. The Branch provided statistical analysis and consultation; surveillance, programmatic, and research data management and analysis support; data dissemination services; and information systems-associated technical assistance to the Division and local and state STD prevention programs. Between 1998 through 2003, Dr. Groseclose managed the CDC branch responsible for the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System, the 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System, and the Medical Examiner and Coroner Information Sharing Program. Dr. Groseclose has over 20 years experience in public health surveillance and informatics at the city, state, and federal public health system levels. His current areas of interest include surveillance system evaluation and the application of statistical and informatics methods and tools to improve the management, interpretation, use, and dissemination of surveillance data for public health action.

Dr. Groseclose holds a veterinary medical degree from The Ohio State University, a Master of Public Health from The Johns Hopkins University, and a Bachelor of Science in biology from Hampden-Sydney College. He was an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer (1991-93) assigned to the Connecticut Department of Health Services. Dr. Groseclose is a Diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and member of the College’s Epidemiology Specialty.


Plenary and Panel Speakers

Neil Abernethy, PhDis Assistant Professor of Medical Education and Biomedical Informatics in the School of Medicine, with a joint appointment in Health Services in the School of Public Health. His research interests include models of infectious disease, molecular epidemiology, global health, social network analysis, and data integration and visualization. Dr. Abernethy holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Informatics from Stanford University, where he investigated computational methods to merge and analyze diverse data sources for outbreak management. Prior to the PhD, he conducted molecular evolution research at North Carolina State University, created a knowledge base for ribosome structure analysis at Stanford University, and was a co-founder of genomics company Ingenuity Systems.  Prior to joining the UW faculty, he developed tools to unify regional molecular epidemiology and TB genotype surveillance at UCSF and worked on staff at the Data Centre for the Medical Research Council in The Gambia (West Africa).

Clifton Barnett, MSIS, has more than 9 years experience in data quality assurance. He has extensive education and professional experience in database design, development, and reporting.  Mr. Barnett has been involved in research efforts aimed at defining and improving data quality in multiple information systems.  Since joining the Carolina Center for Health Informatics in 2005, he has held primary responsibility for all CCHI data quality processes.Catherine Brownstein, MPH, PhD, is an award-winning geneticist and toxicologist who is readying the PatientsLikeMe platform for the incorporation of genetic information. During her graduate studies on phosphate metabolism, Dr. Brownstein discovered a novel gene for bone density. In addition to this discovery, her past research and publications encompass a variety of topics, including estimating mortality in post-invasion Iraq, evaluating the market for genetically modified foods, assessing candles and incense as potential sources of indoor air pollution, and measuring progress towards sustainability. Prior to joining PatientsLikeMe, she worked at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. 

Sharon Greene, PhD, MPH,is a research associate in the Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, and is an epidemiologist with experience in infectious disease surveillance and outbreak investigation. Her current research focuses on near real-time vaccine safety surveillance, the use of space-time scan statistics in syndromic surveillance, and trends in the usage of antibiotic and antiviral medications. She holds a PhD in Epidemiologic Science and an MPH in Hospital and Molecular Epidemiology from the University of Michigan, and served as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer in the Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Julia E. Gunn, RN, MPH,has worked for the Boston Public Health Commission in the Communicable Disease Control Division for over 15 years, assuming the position of Director in 2008.  During this time she has contributed to dozens of publications and presentations enhancing the understanding of communicable disease surveillance and response, tuberculosis, food-borne illness, and other communicable illnesses. Ms. Gunn has played a key role in the development and integration of enhanced surveillance systems in Boston including the EARS based syndromic surveillance system and patient tracking for mass casualty events.  Her ISDS committee membership includes the program and workshop committees and the public health practice committee. In addition, she is a member of NACCHO’s public health informatics workgroup which represents the interests of local health departments.

Amy Ising, MSIS, Adjunct Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the Program Director for the North Carolina Disease Event Tracking and Epidemiologic Collection Tool (NC DETECT).  She is a co-investigator on a wide variety of health informatics and biosurveillance-related research projects.  Ms. Ising received a B.A. with Distinction from the University of Virginia, and a M.S. in Information Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Geraldine Johnson, BA, MS,is currently the Co-Director of the New York State Department of Health Office of Public Health Informatics and Project Management. She previously managed the CDC Accelerating Situational Awareness through Health Information Exchanges project in New York and has 19 years of experience conducting public health surveillance and investigation and epidemiologic studies in both the community and healthcare settings.

Bryant Karras, MD,is an Engineer, a Physician, and Public Health Informatician. He joined Washington’s Department of Health in 2008. He has a background in Biomedical Engineering (University of California San Diego), Internal Medicine (University of Wisconsin) and Medical Informatics (Yale). Dr. Karras was a founding faculty member of the University of Washington the Biomedical & Health Informatics program, and the Center for Public Health Informatics.  As Public Health Informatics Officer he supports the informatics needs of Epidemiology, Health Statistics and the Public Health Laboratories.  He leads the DOH cross divisional efforts to prepare public health for meaningful use and changes to public health practice that Statewide Health Information Exchange will bring.  Dr. Karras represents public health on the Wa Health Care Authority’s eHealth Collaborative Enterprise committee, OneHealthPort’s HIE Leadership Group, and is on the Community HIE Oversight Board. He specializes in informatics methods to improve public health via prevention, health promotion, and disease surveillance.

Daniel B. Neill, PhD,is Assistant Professor of Information Systems at the H.J. Heinz III College of Carnegie Mellon University, where he directs the Event and Pattern Detection Laboratory.  He holds courtesy appointments in the Machine Learning Department and Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon, and is an adjunct professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Biomedical Informatics. He received his M.Phil. from Cambridge University in 2002, his M.S. from Carnegie Mellon in 2004, and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon in 2006.  Prof. Neill is the author of more than thirty publications on the topic of event and pattern detection, focusing primarily on methods for the early and accurate detection of emerging outbreaks of disease. Detection methods developed by Prof. Neill and colleagues have been incorporated into deployed disease surveillance systems in the U.S., Canada, India, and Sri Lanka, and his CrimeScan software is in day-to-day operational use by the Chicago Police Department in order to predict and prevent emerging hot-spots of violent crime.  Prof. Neill has been an active contributor, reviewer, and program committee member for the ISDS Annual Conference, twice serving as chair of the Analytical Methods track. He received the Best Research Presentation award at the 2005 National Syndromic Surveillance Conference for his work on Bayesian spatial scan statistics. Prof. Neill’s work has been funded by multiple grants from the National Science Foundation, including an NSF CAREER award (2010) and NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (2002-2005).

Ian Painter, PhD, MSc, BSc,is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Services at the University of Washington School of Public Health. His areas of research interest include distributed disease surveillance, surveillance and situational awareness using health information exchange data, data visualization and data quality for public health informatics. He is a consultant on several projects investigating public health communication and emergency preparedness, and teaches in the University of Washington’s Community Oriented Public Health Practice MPH program.

Karl Soetebier, MA,is the Technical Lead for the Georgia Division of Public Health’s electronic disease surveillance system (SENDSS).  In this capacity, since 2002, he has been responsible for all technical aspects of the development, implementation, and operation of the Georgia Syndromic Surveillance Program’s technical infrastructure.  Additionally, in support of Georgia’s public health preparedness activities, Karl has overseen the development and implementation of several other modules of the SENDSS system including Outbreak Management, Electronic Laboratory Reporting, Tuberculosis Patient Management, Emergency Medical Services, and General Notifiable Disease Reporting. Karl has 8 years of experience in developing disease surveillance systems and brings nearly 15 years of professional software, web and database development expertise to the effort.  Karl is a founding member of the ISDS DiSTRIBuTE workgroup and is a member of the Distribute Community Advisory Committee. He is an active member of the ISDS Meaningful Use workgroup and along with a number of  ISDS conference presentations, he has served as the conference’s technical track chair for the 2007 ISDS conference and again as co-chair of the Informatics track for the 2010 conference.  Karl holds a Master’s degree in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University.

Paula Soper, MS, MPH, PMP, has more than 15 years of experience in public health, health IT and project management. Trained as an epidemiologist and informatician, Ms. Soper has directed the development and implementation of statewide public health information systems including immunization registries, communicable disease surveillance systems, syndromic surveillance systems, vital records systems and integrated child health information systems around the nation. Ms. Soper is currently a research Scientist at NORC at the University of Chicago and directs a contract to develop tools and resources to help eligible providers meet the population and public health meaningful use objectives.  Ms. Soper was a National Library of Medicine Informatics Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and holds a Master of Public Health in Maternal and Child Health from the George Washington University, Master of Science in Health Sciences Informatics from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and is a doctoral candidate in health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is also an adjunct faculty member in health care management at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences and in healthcare management and informatics at Chancellor University.


Taj Azarian, MPH,is the surveillance epidemiologist for the Duval County Health Department (DCHD) in Jacksonville, FL.  Mr. Azarian received his Masters in Public Health in Epidemiology from the University of Florida’s School of Public Health and Health Professions and his Bachelors in Microbiology and Cell Science from the University of Florida. Currently he participates in a myriad of surveillance and emergency response activities at DCHD including notifiable diseases, bioterrorism and influenza surveillance. He has been a member of the International Society for Disease Surveillance and a member of the ISDS Distribute workgroup since 2007.   

Michael A. Coletta, MPH , graduated with distinction from SMU in Dallas, TX, and worked as a CDC Public Health Advisor assigned to Chicago’s STD program from 1993 – 1996. He went on to work as a Coordinator of Research at Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas 1996-1997. From there, Michael left to receive his Masters of Public Health from UT-Houston School of Public Health in December of 1998. His thesis was entitled “Serological Reactivity To Acanthamoeba spp. In Selected Populations.” After graduating, Michael worked with the Georgia Division of Public Health (GDPH) from January 1999 – December 2004. During that time he worked as a District Epidemiologist, Knowledge Analyst, and Surveillance Epidemiologist. Michael was integral in instituting syndromic surveillance for GDPH during the G8 summit. He joined the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) in January 2005 and is working as their Enhanced Surveillance Coordinator. In 2006, Michael and co-authors received honorable mention on their poster presentation entitled, “Resolving the ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’ Syndrome”. Michael has served on the ESSENCE Enhanced Surveillance Operating Group (ESOG) for Virginia, as Master of Ceremony for the 2008 EARS conference held in Boston, and most recently as the Chair for the ISDS Meaningful Use workgroup. His interest lies in improving and enhancing surveillance utilizing public health informatics and a practical knowledge of epidemiology.

Kenneth Mandl, MD, MPH, is aFounding Board member of the International Society for Disease Surveillance. Mandl is a pioneer in both consumer informatics and population health monitoring. He has innovated and published extensively in the areas of personally controlled health records, disease outbreak detection, public health surveillance, and national health information infrastructure. Recognized for his teaching and research, he has received the Barger Award for Excellence in Mentoring at Harvard Medical School and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government to outstanding scientists and engineers. Mandl co-directs a CDC Center of Excellence in Public Health Informatics. He is a leader of the SMArtPlatforms project—part of a major federal initiative seeking to create an “app store” for health. Mandl is a member of the Advisory Committee to the Director of the CDC. He is an attending physician in pediatric emergency medicine, a faculty member in the Harvard Medical School Center for Biomedical Informatics and affiliated faculty at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.

Marc Paladini, MPH,is the Director of the Syndromic Surveillance Unit for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYCDOHMH).  He has worked consistently with public health practitioners on the local, state and federal levels on projects ranging from developing and maintaining syndromic surveillance systems to field epidemiology and disease outbreak investigations and has been actively involved with ISDS since its beginnings. Marc did his graduate training at the Yale University School of Public Health in both Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Biostatistics.  After graduation he worked for several years at the Bergen County (New Jersey) Department of Health Services as an epidemiologist where he developed one of the first hospital syndromic surveillance systems in the country, and began working on projects to integrate public health practice across jurisdictions.  Following this he moved to the NYCDOHMH for several years as an analyst in the syndromic surveillance unit and continued work on both surveillance and cross jurisdictional collaboration and data sharing.  All of these efforts found synthesis in the DiSTRIBuTE project which was initiated during his tenure as the first Research Director for the International Society for Disease Surveillance.  After one year with ISDS Marc returned to the NYCDOHMH to become the Director of the Syndromic Surveillance Unit where he can be found today continually trying to modify and improve syndromic systems, outputs and analyses.  Marc is also a current ISDS board member.