30 August 2013

2013 ISDS Conference Keynote Speakers

ISDS and its 2013 Scientific Program Committee are pleased to announce two world-renown speakers for the 2013 ISDS Conference keynote addresses!

Opening Keynote

David Abramson, PhD, MPH, Deputy Director, National Center for Disaster Preparedness; Assistant Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at CUMC
As Deputy Director and Director of Research at Columbia University's National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Dr. Abramson's areas of study include disaster recovery and resiliency, the social ecology of vulnerability, risk communication targeted at high-risk or elusive communities, and survey research on preparedness attitudes and behaviors. He is the principal investigator of the longitudinal Gulf Coast Child and Family Health Study, an examination of need and recovery among 1,000+ randomly sampled displaced and impacted families in Louisiana and Mississippi (2006-2010), and is Co-Investigator of an NIH study of the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on children's health. Additionally, Dr. Abramson is leading a foundation-funded effort to identify pediatric need along the Gulf Coast. Other current or recent disaster-related research activities include studies of how US cities recover from disasters, evolving trends in disaster philanthropy, the public health response to Hurricane Irene, and a FEMA-funded "community tabletop" that focused on how well school systems can prepare for disasters. From 2007 – 2010, Dr. Abramson served as an Associate Editor of the AMA peer-reviewed journal, Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness.

Prior to entering the field of public health in 1990, Dr. Abramson worked for a decade as a national magazine journalist, having written for Rolling Stone, Esquire, Outside, and the San Francisco Examiner, among other publications. A former paramedic, Abramson holds a doctorate in sociomedical sciences with a specialization in political science, and a master of public health degree, both from Columbia University.

Closing Keynote

Gary Slutkin, MD, Founder/Executive Director, Cure Violence; Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health
Dr. Gary Slutkin is a physician, epidemiologist, infectious disease control specialist and Founder/ Executive Director of Cure Violence. Recognized as an innovator in violence prevention, Dr. Slutkin sees the issue of violence as fundamentally misdiagnosed and has presented his solution-oriented understanding to the World Bank, the State Department, the World Health Organization, the Institute of Medicine, MIT SaxeLab, Harvard Law School and the National Intelligence Council.

Learn more about the 2013 ISDS Conference here.

26 August 2013

CDC Awards Funding to Support Public Health Surveillance, Disease Detection and Outbreak Response

On Tuesday, August 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced an award to states of about $75.8 million through the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases Cooperative Agreement (ELC). This funding helps states and communities strengthen core epidemiology and laboratory capacity needed to track and respond quickly to a variety of infectious diseases.

Through the ELC mechanism, CDC provides funding to all 50 state health departments, six local health departments, and eight territories or U.S. affiliates. Funds provided through the ELC mechanism help pay for more than 1,000 full- and part-time public health employees including epidemiologists, laboratorians, and health information systems staff. The annual ELC investment provides public health officials with improved tools to respond to more outbreaks, conduct surveillance faster and prevent more illnesses and deaths from infectious diseases.

The funding provided through the ELC cooperative agreement supports surveillance, detection, and outbreak response efforts in many infectious disease areas, including zoonotic and vector-borne diseases, foodborne diseases, influenza, and healthcare-associated infections. Beth P. Bell, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, stated the significance of this funding in strengthening national infectious disease infrastructure, “With many infectious diseases first identified at the local level, this funding ensures that state health departments are able to effectively prevent, detect and respond to such public health threats.”

This investment by the CDC directly addresses a key recommendation from ISDS’s recently published Sustainable Surveillance paper by giving recognition to public health surveillance as a core public health function. As stated by Scott Becker, MS, executive director of the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), even though this year’s allocation is a 4% drop from last year, the small cut in light of sequestration shows how highly we value public health surveillance in the country.

This funding is in addition to $13.7 million that went out through the ELC mechanism in January. More details on state-by-state ELC funding and on CDC’s ELC cooperative agreement are available on the ELC webpage at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dpei/epidemiology-laboratory-capacity.html

*The above information was adapted from the Press Release by CDC and from CIDRAP News.

22 August 2013

Help us improve the ISDS Community Forum!

The ISDS Community Forum is a great place to connect with colleagues around the world, exchange ideas, collaborate, and ask questions; but we think it can be even better.

Next time you visit the Forum look for the front-page survey asking about your experience. This extremely short survey will help us gauge your interest and use of the Forum and make it more worthwhile, useful, and intuitive.

We're already working to implement some changes including a new layout and a more open member format. If you're interested in joining the Forum you can send a request to Becky Zwickl at bzwickl@syndromic.org. We hope to see you there!

16 August 2013

Public Health - EHR Vendors Collaboration Initiative

**Update: Pre-registration is NOW REQUIRED. See details below.**

Dear Public Health Colleagues:
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), in collaboration with Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has launched a Public Health (PH)–Electronic Health Records (EHR) Vendors Collaboration Initiative. The proposed participants in this initiative will include Public Health Practitioners and EHR Vendors from across the nation. The initial focus of this initiative will be on meeting Stage 1 and 2 Meaningful Use (MU) objectives for public health.
Initially, separate virtual meetings were held with public health and an EHR vendor workgroup to help frame and plan this initiative.  Based on inputs gathered from these interactions, joint meetings of the public health practitioners and EHR vendors from across the nation will be held on a recurrent basis starting on August 20th, 2013, to work collaboratively towards achieving the desired goals and creating value for the public health and EHR vendor communities.
If you have suggestions for topics or issues to be addressed by this initiative, please send those to meaningfuluse@cdc.gov with a Subject Line of “Suggestion for PH-EHR Vendor Initiative” by COB August 16th.   The suggestions received will help identify common issues and areas of focus for this initiative.
WebEx information Date and Time:
Tuesday, August 20, 2013 3:00 pm, Eastern Daylight Time (New York, GMT-04:00)
Tuesday, August 20, 2013 2:00 pm, Central Daylight Time (Chicago, GMT-05:00)
Tuesday, August 20, 2013 12:00 pm, Mountain Time (Arizona, GMT-07:00)
Tuesday, August 20, 2013 12:00 pm, Pacific Daylight Time (San Francisco, GMT-07:00)
Event number: 646 100 152
Event password: open&88
To register for the online event
1. Go to https://ahrqhit.webex.com/ahrqhit/onstage/g.php?d=646100152&t=a&EA=cuhrig%40rti.org&ET=cafa7b000967412beb9e5f9793f0a58e&ETR=2deb918cb86a8626ce8ae6715b9ed2aa&RT=MiMxMQ==&p
2. Click "Register".
3. On the registration form, enter your information and then click "Submit".

Once the host approves your registration, you will receive a confirmation email message with instructions on how to join the event.
  • Introduction – Jim Daniel
  • Overview, Scope, Goals, and Status – Jim Daniel
  • New Public Health Processes in Meaningful Use Stage 2 – Denise Webb
  • Open Discussion - All
  • Next Steps – All

14 August 2013

2013 ISDS Pre-Conference Workshop: Track 1: Public Health Surveillance for Beginners

Date/Time: December 11, 2013 - 8:00am - 4:15pm

Location: Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, New Orleans, LA

Target Audience
The target audience of this Workshop is healthcare and public health professionals new to public health surveillance practice, as well as graduate students and researchers interested in obtaining a better understanding of public health surveillance.

This Workshop will provide exposure to key topics central to public health surveillance and serve to orient those who are new to the field. The objective of this Track is to "bridge the knowledge gap" in order to enable participants to better understand and apply public health data for informed and meaningful decision-making and to communicate outcomes or results. It includes the following: an overview of public health surveillance; demonstrations of syndromic surveillance systems and their integration with novel data sources (Emergency Medical Services (EMS) runs, school absenteeism, poison control, etc.); anomaly detection methods and utility (an inside look at algorithms and their parameter settings); investigation techniques (a "how to" approach, showing the integration of multiple data systems/sources); and communication to stakeholders (creation of surveillance reports and communicating findings). This Track is being developed based on feedback from participants who attended the 2012 ISDS Pre-Conference Workshops, and, as such, is sure to be a high quality training opportunity relevant to the practical needs of those who are new to public health surveillance.

Learn more about the 2013 ISDS Pre-Conference Workshops here.

12 August 2013

Webinar: Global Public Health Surveillance, Governance, and Viral Sovereignty

Hosted by the ISDS Global Outreach Committee
Date and Time: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM EDT


  • Affan Shaikh, M.P.H, Senior Epidemiologist, Public Health Practie, LLC
  • Scott McNabb, Ph.D., M.S., Research Professor, Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health | Managing Partner, Public Health Practice, LLC 
  • Qanta Ahmed, M.D., Attending Sleep Disorders Medicine, Winthrop University Hospital | Associate Professor of Medicine, State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook, New York
  • Ziad Memish, M.D., Deputy Minister of Public Health, Ministry of Health, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia



Microbes carry no national passports; neither do they recognize geo-political boundaries or state sovereignty. Yet a recent violation of viral sovereignty has brought up unresolved governance issues, challenged ethical public health practice, and added unnecessary global security risk.  Viral sovereignty refers to a sovereign state’s ownership rights over pathogens found within national borders.  First coined in the wake of tensions rising from the Indonesian government’s decision to conditionally withhold samples of H5N1 avian influenza virus in early 2007, viral sovereignty has been interpreted both in a positive light as a guiding, ethical rule to govern control of modern pandemics on the one hand and a potential risk to global health security on the other.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) revised the International Health Regulations (IHR [2005]) to provide a global framework to prevent, protect against, control, and facilitate a public health response to the global spread of disease, its success firmly rests on the delicate balance of trust and transparency.  Current disputes now highlight the imbalance between respecting and trusting legitimate national sovereignty while complying with global transparency in reporting.
This webinar reviews the history and role of the IHR 2005.  In it, we discuss the rights and responsibilities of various parties for public health surveillance and global health security.  We also discuss the origins and implications of viral sovereignty. And through two case studies, we point out the critical and current issues to be discusses and weigh the pros and cons of various options to move forward to greater global health security.

Learning Objectives

By the conclusion of this webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the history and role of the International Health Regulations (IHR [2005])
  • Review the authority and obligations of National Ministries of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) for public health surveillance
  • Delineate national and global rights and responsibilities for public health surveillance
  • Define viral sovereignty and its impact on global health security
  • Illustrate a way forward

Register here to attend!

Join the conversation on twitter! Use the hashtag #ViralSovereignty

09 August 2013

Executive-level Job Opportunity at the CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recruiting for a Director for the new Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Services (CSELS) (proposed). The new Director will lead public health actions to promote surveillance, informatics, epidemiology, public health workforce development and laboratory services. CSELS has a budget of over $200 million and a workforce of approximately 650 employees and contractors. The position of Director, CSELS, is located in HHS, CDC, Office of Public Health Scientific Standards (proposed) and reports to the Deputy Director for Public Health Scientific Standards (proposed), who reports to the Director, CDC.


The CSELS Director will have broad operating authority and responsibility for overall planning, direction and management of the Center. S/he will:
  • Lead and manage the various Center programs to achieve the agency and Center goals and objectives. Establish partnerships with other CDC centers/offices and serve as a resource for the agency’s public health surveillance and prevention programs, and applied research and services activities.
  • Provide scientific guidance and leadership to international, national, state, tribal and/or local government agencies, universities, health-related organizations, private and public foundations, and professional associations, in activities to improve critical public health problems and issues. 
  • Provide consultation and maintain liaison with other state and federal health agencies as well as foreign countries.

Skills and expertise required

Applicants should possess proven, senior-level experience leading and directing the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of programs and projects in surveillance, epidemiology or laboratory services. Applicants must also demonstrate a successful record of innovation, coordination and collaboration in advancing efforts to improve the public’s health.

Degree Requirements: MD, PhD or equivalent degree.
Salary: $118,846 – $199,700
*Note: Executive level compensation package is commensurate with qualifications and experience, which may result in a higher salary than reflected above.

How to Apply

Applications are NOT accepted via email. To be considered, apply before midnight EDT on 9/13/2013 using the appropriate link from below.

Questions may be directed to Vicki Hunter at vhunter@cdc.gov or 404.808.8321.

08 August 2013

2013 ISDS Swap Meet: Opportunity to Present a System Demonstration

Date/Time: December 11, 2013 - 4:30 - 6:30pm (tentative)
Location: Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana

2012 ISDS Swap Meet, Sheraton San Diego Hotel
and Marina (December 3, 2012).
The ISDS Swap Meet is an exciting opportunity for 2013 ISDS Pre-Conference and Conference attendees to walk around to tables and informally discuss particular topics or systems with system developers, system users, and experts. Previous Swap Meet presentations have included: HealthMap, FirstWatch, ESSENCE, Suite for Automated Global Electronic bioSurveillance (SAGES), NACCHO Informatics, BioSense 2.0, and Data Quality, among others.

If you are interested in presenting a system demonstration, please complete and submit the Swap Meet application by Monday, September 9, 2013 in order to be considered. All applications will be reviewed, and acceptance will be based on space and relevance of topic. Applicants will be notified of the final status of their application by October 4, 2013 (both letters of acceptance and rejection will be sent). Learn more.

If you are interested in attending, please register for a 2013 ISDS Pre-Conference Workshop and/or the Conference - the Swap Meet is included in the registration fee.

07 August 2013

Winners of ISDS's 2013 Awards for Outstanding Research Articles in Biosurveillance

The ISDS Research Committee developed the Awards for Outstanding Research Articles in Biosurveillance (Award) in order to recognize disease surveillance scientists and professionals for contributions to their fields of research.

The initial Award candidate pool consisted of articles summarized by members of the ISDS Literature Review Subcommittee between July 2012 and June 2013. A nomination period was open from May 29, 2013 through June 25, 2013, during which any interested stakeholder was invited to nominate one or more of the articles in the initial pool or write-in any relevant article published in July 2012 or later. The Award Committee then reviewed all nominated articles and narrowed the list down to 3-4 finalist articles in each award category. The ISDS membership voted to determine the final Award winners. 

The ISDS Research Committee is proud to announce the winners of the 2013 Awards for Outstanding Research Articles in Biosurveillance:

Impact on Field Category 

First Prize: Schirmer PL, Lucero-Obusan CA, Benoit SR, et al. Dengue Surveillance in Veterans Affairs Healthcare Facilities, 2007–2010. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2013;7(3):e2040. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002040.

Second Prize: Paterson BJ, Durrheim DN. The remarkable adaptability of syndromic surveillance to meet public health needs. Journal of Epidemiology and Global Health. 2013;3(1):41–47. doi:10.1016/j.jegh.2012.12.005.

Scientific Achievement Category   

First Prize: Shaman J, Karspeck A. Forecasting seasonal outbreaks of influenza. PNAS. 2012;109(50):20425–20430. doi:10.1073/pnas.1208772109.   

Second Prize: Conway M, Dowling JN, Chapman WW. Using chief complaints for syndromic surveillance: A review of chief complaint based classifiers in North America. Journal of Biomedical Informatics. 2013. doi:10.1016/j.jbi.2013.04.003.

We congratulate all of the authors of the winning articles for this achievement.

For more information about the award, please visit the Award webpage.

05 August 2013

Webinar: Discover the 2013 ISDS Conference

Whether you are planning on attending the ISDS Conference for the first time this December or you have been attending since 2002, the ISDS Scientific Program Committee invites you to discover the 2013 ISDS Conference! This webinar will highlight the abstract submission process, new abstract submission types, and the Pre-Conference Workshops. The webinar will include brief overviews by Scientific Program Committee Chair, Wayne Loschen, and Pre-Conference Workshop Planning Chair, Bill Storm, and will be followed by an informal question and answer session. 

Date: Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Time: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM ET

To attend, register here.

The ISDS annual conference is the premier event dedicated to the advancement of the science and practice of biosurveillance. The theme for this year's conference — Translating Research and Surveillance into Action — highlights one of the salient topics voiced by the biosurveillance community, and will focus on strategies for incorporating the latest in biosurveillance approaches, methodologies, and results into data-driven public health practices, programs, and policies. The conference will be held at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel in New Orleans, LA, December 12-13, 2013, with Pre-Conference Workshops on December 11th.

02 August 2013

Have comments on PHIN Guide? Submit them through our new feedback form!

In the months since ISDS and CDC published the expanded PHIN Messaging Guide for Syndromic Surveillance, Release 1.9 (Guide) in April 2013 we’ve received several comments and questions as well as suggestions for future versions.

To streamline the process for gathering comments we’ve created a google form through which you can submit feedback. We’ll also keep track of who submits comments and invite you to participate in conversations on future Guide revisions.

You can also now access a list of feedback ISDS has already received on the Guide. This spreadsheet will be updated periodically (and anonymously) as feedback is submitted. ISDS and CDC responses and status updates are also included for your information.

For additional details on this project see the PHIN Messaging Guide Project Webpage.

For any questions on the PHIN Messaging Guide for Syndromic Surveillance, Release 1.9, please contact Becky Zwickl at bzwickl@syndromic.org.