Announcing the Recipients of the TEPHINET Travel Grant for Environmental Epidemiology for Planetary Health

Awarded in memory of James Mendlein*

For the first time, TEPHINET was honored to offer this travel grant to two authors for studies on environmental epidemiology and planetary health in order to help cover travel costs to Atlanta for the 10th TEPHINET Global Scientific Conference. The first place grant was awarded to the presenting author of the highest-scoring abstract that met the eligibility criteria (as outlined below, under “Eligibility Criteria”), as determined by our abstract reviewers and the TEPHINET Advisory Scientific Committee. The second place grant was awarded to the presenting author of the second highest-scoring abstract that met the criteria.

Congratulations to the recipients!

First place recipient: Simon Packer, recent graduate of the United Kingdom Field Epidemiology Training Program (UK-FETP)

Abstract (accepted for oral presentation): “Determining the utility of national real-time ambulance syndromic surveillance to identify and monitor the adverse health impact of extreme weather events and seasonal respiratory infections in England”

Co-authors: Paul Loveridge, Ana Soriano, Roger Morbey, Dan Todkill, Ross Thompson, Tracy Rayment-Bishop, Richard Pebody, Cathryn James, Hilary Pillin, Alex Elliot, Gillian Smith

Biography: Simon Packer is passionate about the use of epidemiological data to direct public health action. He currently works for Public Health England as a Senior Epidemiological Scientist for Field Services South West. Simon is interested in the application of data science techniques to investigate public health problems, bacterial infections in vulnerable community groups, and the application of novel methods to respond to public health issues. Simon recently graduated from the United Kingdom Field Epidemiology Training Program (UK-FETP) in 2019, having previously worked at Public Health England, Health Protection Scotland and the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. During his FETP training, Simon implemented one of the first national ambulance syndromic surveillance systems (NASS), investigated outbreaks of Cryptosporidium, Clostridium perfringens and monkeypox, conducted a training needs assessment for Africa CDC’s emergency response team, and undertook a research project looking at the feasibility of using routinely collected data for sepsis surveillance in England. Outside of work, Simon enjoys spending time with friends and family, cooking, playing football, and outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing and wild swimming. Follow him on Twitter @simonpacker33 or email simon [dot] packer [at] phe [dot] gov [dot] uk.

Second place recipient: Tamuno-Wari Numbere, recent graduate of the Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (NFELTP)

Abstract (accepted for oral presentation): “A comparative study on the influence of industrial air pollution on the prevalence and risk factors for asthma among children in Rivers State – Nigeria, May 2019”

Co-authors: Olufunmilayo Fawole, O Morakinyo, Mabel Aworh, Adedoyin A Fetuga, Ibitein Okeafor, Muhammad Shakir Balogun

Biography: Tamuno-Wari Numbere is a medical doctor and epidemiologist serving as the Surveillance, Outbreak Response Management and Analysis System (SORMAS) implementation officer in Rivers State, Nigeria.

Previously, he worked as a Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer in the Epidemiology department of the Ministry of Health, Rivers State, supervising environmental surveillance for polio, conducting active surveillance for epidemic prone diseases, and contact tracing during the Ebola outbreak in Port Harcourt in 2014. He also coordinated the activities of the Epidemiology and Surveillance pillar of the Emergency Operations Centre for cholera and Lassa fever in Rivers State from 2015 to 2016.

Dr. Numbere recently graduated from the Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (NFELTP) where he gained valuable experience in evaluating surveillance systems, analyzing secondary data and responding to outbreaks of monkeypox and cholera across Nigeria.

He also holds a Postgraduate Diploma and Master of Science degree in Public Health in Developing Countries from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where he received the Langley Memorial Prize for his policy report on the 2004 Nigeria Water and Sanitation Policy.

Eligibility Criteria

In order to be eligible for this grant, authors must have submitted abstracts to the conference that met the following criteria. The abstracts must have been accepted for oral presentation.

The abstract must describe a study by fellows or recent graduates (who graduated no earlier than January 2017) from Field Epidemiology Training Programs which is:

  • Based on interdisciplinary collaborations (i.e., epidemiology, environmental science, microbiology, social science, anthropology, entomology, ethics, veterinary medicine or other relevant fields) in the field of environmental health/epidemiology, and
  • Based on the analysis of social and environmental determinants of communicable diseases and noncommunicable diseases, the human health impact assessment of environmental risks (i.e., air pollution), or preparedness measures against climate-related health effects or natural disasters.

It must demonstrate public health relevance and clear recommendations for interventions.

*About James Mendlein, MPH, PhD, (CAPT, USPHS)

James Mendlein joined CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) in 1985, where he served in the Division of Injury Epidemiology and Control. He would later work in the Office of Surveillance and Analysis, and in the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity (1994-1999), where he helped state departments of health develop nutrition surveillance, epidemiology and prevention activities.

Since 1999, he served in the Division of International Health and the Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP). Jim was instrumental in the development of the China FETP, teaching and mentoring Chinese residents’ investigations, presentations and publications. He also supported Egypt, Jordan, and Brazil with curriculum development, teaching and mentoring, extending his influence to epidemiologists in many countries.

Following retirement after 22 years in the US Public Health Service, he completed several consultations with TEPHINET in support of FETPs, contributing to the accreditation project, which promotes evaluation and continuous quality improvement of FETPs around the world.

Jim’s values and ethics, combined with his scientific work in environmental risks and chronic disease epidemiology, made him aware of the urgency of protecting our environment. Concerned about the health of current and future generations, he was an advocate for sustainability, and had a vision about multidisciplinary approaches in the study of environmental and social determinants, and impact assessment in global public health.