In Memory of Sara A. Lowther, MPH, PhD: A Field Epidemiology Champion and Member of the TEPHINET Family
The TEPHINET Secretariat is deeply saddened to share news of the death of Sara A. Lowther, MPH, PhD. Sara, who graduated from the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) in 2008, served most recently as the acting lead of the Epidemiology Technical Support Unit for the Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) Team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In recent years, many of our colleagues across the TEPHINET Secretariat and network had the privilege of working with Sara as the former Resident Advisor (RA) of the Kenya Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (FELTP).
While serving as the RA, Sara helped to respond to 48 outbreaks, and she trained and mentored 78 Kenyan health professionals. Prior to her role as RA, Sara served as program director for polio and immunization activities for the Global Immunization Division (GID) and led CDC’s efforts in the 2013-2014 polio outbreak in the Horn of Africa. Before that, she was a research scientist in the Division of Viral Hepatitis. As an EIS officer, she was assigned to the Department of Health in the state of Minnesota. Throughout her CDC career, she deployed more than 13 times in support of outbreak response efforts.
Carl Reddy, TEPHINET Director, shares his joyful memory of Sara:
“I first met Sara at a TEPHINET Program Directors Meeting in Madrid in July 2016. I was struck by her quiet, good-humored demeanor and her wicked questioning.
One evening, after a particularly tiring day, Dionisio [previous TEPHINET Director] recommended that we go to a Cuban bar in the vibrant Puerta del Sol district of Madrid. A group of us keen to try the mojitos and daiquiris made our way to the bar and were soon engaged in lively conversation about everything and nothing in particular! Soon enough, the music started, and it was the kind of salsa that wouldn’t be ignored. Someone in the group remembered that I had lived in Mexico, and the salsa questions were soon homing in on me.
Sara listened attentively. A colleague asked me to show him a step, and as I struggled to guide him through a turn, Sara suggested that I teach her the step in order to show it to him. She had tricked me—I realized immediately that she was a very good salsa dancer! Her steps were in time to the music, and she didn’t miss a beat as she glided through the turns. Not only could Sara salsa, she could rhumba, samba and cha cha cha, and she didn’t sit out a single song! It was great to be led by someone else for a change, and that evening turned out to be a truly memorable one!”
Sara will be remembered not only through her contributions to public health but also through the many lives she touched.