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Journalism Summit on Infectious Disease: Speakers' bios

Monday, Nov. 16

Fall Summit Welcome Message, Day’s Agenda, Intro First Session

Andrew Smiley is the new executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. He has been named an assistant professor of professional practice at the Missouri School of Journalism. Smiley comes to AHCJ from a sports broadcasting background, including nearly a decade at the Golf Channel/NBC Sports, where he most recently served as coordinating director. He spent a decade at ESPN in programming and studio directing, where he won an Emmy, and a short stint with the PBS affiliate in Chattanooga, Tenn. Smiley holds communications degrees from Berry College in Georgia and the University of Hartford in Connecticut, and is completing coursework toward an executive MBA degree from Washington State University. andrew@healthjournalism.org

Ivan Oransky, M.D., is editor-in-chief of Spectrum and Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. He also blogs at Embargo Watch and at Retraction Watch. Formerly, he was vice president, editorial at Medscape; global editorial director at MedPage Today; executive editor at Reuters Health; managing editor for online at Scientific American and deputy editor of The Scientist.

Following the pandemic numbers: Data that can bolster reporting

Kevin Barnett, Dr.P.H., M.C.P., is the senior investigator at the Public Health Institute. He has led research and fieldwork to advance hospital community benefit practices for over two decades, working with hospitals, government agencies and community stakeholders across the country. He directs PHI’s Center to Advance Community Health and Equity (CACHE), which supports evidence-informed analysis and action by hospitals and diverse stakeholders across sectors to focus community investments in communities where health inequities are concentrated. Barnett serves on the board of directors for the Trinity Health System.

Nicole E. Basta, Ph.D., M.Phil, is an associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McGill University and Canada research chair in infectious disease prevention. For the past decade, Basta has conducted epidemiologic research to evaluate the impact of vaccines and to increase vaccine uptake and access. She is team lead for www.trackvaccines.org, a COVID-19 vaccine development tracker designed to simplify the evolving landscape of COVID-19 vaccine development efforts.

Jennifer B. Nuzzo, Dr.P.H., S.M., is a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering and the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and a senior fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations. She is also the lead epidemiologist for the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Testing Insights Initiative housed within the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Moderator: Amy Maxmen, Ph.D., is a reporter at Nature and her work appears in National Geographic, Wired and Nautilus. Her stories on infectious disease outbreaks have garnered several journalism awards. See her work at www.amymaxmen.com and follow her on Twitter @amymaxmen.

Different testing types: Access and accuracy

Karen C. Carroll, M.D., is a professor of pathology and the director of the Division of Medical Microbiology at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Carroll received training in internal medicine, infectious diseases and medical microbiology. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the College of American Pathologists. Carroll and Heba Mostafa are leading the Johns Hopkins Health Systems’ diagnostic testing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Heba Mostafa, M.D., Ph.D., serves as an assistant professor of pathology at Johns Hopkins school of Medicine and the director of the Molecular Virology Laboratory at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Mostafa’s research program focuses on implementing whole genome sequencing in the molecular virology laboratory with applications that include: genomic surveillance of viruses and the correlation between viral evolution and disease severity.

Kathleen Page, M.D., is an associate professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She co-founded Centro SOL to meet the health needs of Latino migrants through research, education, advocacy and clinical care. She is the medical director of The Johns Hopkins Access Partnership which provides care to uninsured patients with financial need. Her research focuses on migrant health, health disparities and implementation science.

Moderator: Joseph Burns is AHCJ's core topic leader on health insurance, providing resources for AHCJ members to cover that complex and changing subject. An independent journalist, Burns has covered health care since 1991 and writes about health policy and the business of health care for publications including Hospitals & Health Networks, Managed Care magazine, Ophthalmology Management and The Dark Report. One of the founding editors of the Practice Options newsletters, Burns has edited books on health care and business strategies for Faulkner & Gray and Panel Publishers. From 1991 to 1994, he was editor-in-chief of Business & Health magazine and later was a contributing editor and author of a monthly column for Managed Healthcare Executive magazine. He was the founding editor of The Financial Manager, a magazine for accountants and other business strategists. Burns began his career as a newspaper reporter in Connecticut. (@jburns18)


Tuesday, Nov. 17

Welcome Message, Day’s Agenda, Intro First Session

Andrew Smiley is the new executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. He also has been named an assistant professor of professional practice at the Missouri School of Journalism. Smiley comes to AHCJ from a sports broadcasting background, including nearly a decade at the Golf Channel/NBC Sports, where he most recently served as coordinating director. He also spent a decade at ESPN in programming and studio directing, where he won an Emmy, and a short stint with the PBS affiliate in Chattanooga, Tenn. andrew@healthjournalism.org

What are we learning from the COVID-19 vaccine efforts?

Ruth A. Karron, M.D., is professor and director of the Center for Immunization Research and the Johns Hopkins Vaccine Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Karron has substantial experience in the evaluation of respiratory virus vaccines in adult and pediatric populations. She has served on a number of national and international vaccine advisory committees and panels, including ACIP and VRBPAC (chair, 2006-2008). She is a member/chair of vaccine committees and working groups for the World Health Organization, Gavi, and the Wellcome Trust.

Peter J. Hotez, M.D., Ph.D., is the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and professor of pediatrics and molecular virology & microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine where he is director of the Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) and Texas Children’s Hospital Endowed Chair of Tropical Pediatrics. He is a university professor at Baylor University,a fellow in Disease and Poverty at the James A Baker III Institute for Public Policy, a senior fellow at the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at Texas A&M University, a aculty fellow with the Hagler Institute for Advanced Studies at Texas A&M University, and a health policy scholar in the Baylor Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy.

Emily Brunson, Ph.D., M.P.H., focuses her research on health care access and decision-making, particularly how policies, social structures (including class and racial inequalities), social relationships, and personal experience combine to produce health outcomes for individuals. Her research on vaccination has been published in Pediatrics, Vaccine, and Health Security. She recently co-led a national working group with Monica Schoch-Spana on readying populations for COVID-19 vaccines.

Moderator: Tara Haelle, as AHCJ's core topic leader on medical studies, guides journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enable them to translate the evidence into accurate information that their readers can grasp. Haelle is a freelance journalist and multimedia photographer who has focused on medical studies over the past five years. She particularly specializes in reporting on vaccines, pediatrics, maternal health, obesity, nutrition and mental health. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, The Washington Post, Politico, Slate, NOVA, Wired and Science, and she writes regularly for HealthDay, Frontline Medical Communications and Forbes. (@tarahaelle)

Treatment status: What’s here, and what’s on the horizon

Amesh Adalja, M.D., is a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Health Security. His work is focused on emerging infectious disease, pandemic preparedness and biosecurity. He actively practices infectious disease, critical care and emergency medicine in the Pittsburgh area.

Neysa Ernst, R.N., M.S.N., is the nurse manager of the Biocontainment Unit and the Hospital Endoscopy Unit of the Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She served as president of the Maryland Nurse’s Association and promoted legislation to increase penalties for assaulting health care workers in Maryland. She is a founding member of the Danny’s Day Foundation, serving developmentally challenged young adults in Anne Arundel County. She is a contributing writer to the Maryland Nurse newsletter, a member of the American Nurses Association and the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

Apoorva Mandavilli, is the science and global health reporter, The New York Times and she is the 2019 winner of the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting. She is the founding editor in chief of Spectrum, leading the team for 13 years. In May of 2020, Mandavilli joined The New York Times, after two years as a regular contributor. Mandavilli has won numerous awards for her writing. Her work has been published in The Atlantic, Slate and The New Yorker online and in the anthology Best American Science and Nature Writing.”

Moderator: Brian W. Simpson, M.P.H., M.A., is editor-in-chief of the news website and weekday newsletter Global Health NOW and Hopkins Bloomberg Public Health magazine at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. His work has been published by Smithsonian.com, NPR.com and other publications. 

When two diseases meet: Flu and COVID-19 will share at least one season

Lisa Maragakis, M.D., M.P.H., F.S.H.E.A., F.I.D.S.A., is an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health. Maragakis is the senior director of infection prevention for the Johns Hopkins Health System. Her research interests are the epidemiology, prevention and control of healthcare-acquired infections. She serves as executive director of the Johns Hopkins Biocontainment Unit and as incident commander for the Johns Hopkins Medicine COVID-19 response.

Virginia D. Banks, M.D., is an infectious disease specialist with Northeast Ohio Infectious Disease associates in Youngstown, Ohio. Before joining that group, Banks was the head of infectious disease at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center-the Horizon Campus. Banks was recognized in 2019 by the Infectious Disease society of America as the recipient of the Watanakunakorn Clinician of the Year Award.

Litjen “L.J.” Tan, is the chief strategy officer at Immunization Action Coalition. Previously, Tan was the director of medicine and public health at the American Medical Association. Tan was a voting member of the Department of Health and Human Services' National Vaccine Advisory Committee from 2009 to 2013 and served for more than 10 years as the AMA's liaison to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. He co-founded and co-chairs the National Adult and Influenza Immunization Summit.

Moderator: Bara Vaida, as AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases, is covering the complex and changing topic and helping journalists recognize emerging stories, understand the science of diseases, as well as prevention and cures. She has been a journalist for more than 25 years and a freelancer since 2011. She has worked for the National Journal, Agence France-Presse and Bloomberg News and has been a guest on numerous radio and television shows. Vaida wrote extensively about health care policy and the Affordable Care Act as a contributing writer with Kaiser Health News. She wrote an in-depth report for CQ Researcher, published in June 2017, "Pandemic Threat: Is the world prepared for the next outbreak?" (@barav


Wednesday, Nov. 18

Welcome Message, Day’s Agenda, Intro First Session

Andrew Smiley is the new executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. He also has been named an assistant professor of professional practice at the Missouri School of Journalism. Smiley comes to AHCJ from a sports broadcasting background, including nearly a decade at the Golf Channel/NBC Sports, where he most recently served as coordinating director. He also spent a decade at ESPN in programming and studio directing, where he won an Emmy, and a short stint with the PBS affiliate in Chattanooga, Tenn. andrew@healthjournalism.org

Introduction to spotlight speaker Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director, National Institutes of Health

Maryn McKenna is an independent journalist who specializes in public health, global health and food policy. She is a columnist for Wired’s Ideas section, a columnist for Scientific American and a long-form and investigative writer for Self, the Atlantic, the Guardian, Nature and other publications in the United States, Europe and Asia. She is the author of the 2017 bestseller, “Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats” (National Geographic 2017). She is the author of "Superbug: The Fatal Menace of MRSA" (Free Press/S&S 2010) and "Beating Back the Devil: On the Front Lines with the Disease Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service" (FP/S&S 2004). She is a senior fellow of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University. Previously, she was a newspaper reporter, working for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Boston Herald, The Cincinnati Enquirer and Rockford Register-Star.

A discussion with NIH Director Francis Collins

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., was appointed the 16th director of the National Institutes of Health by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate. He was sworn in on August 17, 2009. On June 6, 2017, president Donald Trump announced his selection of Collins to continue to serve as the NIH director. In this role, Collins oversees the work of the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world, spanning the spectrum from basic to clinical research. Collins is a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the international Human Genome Project, which culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA instruction book. He served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at NIH from 1993-2008.

Maryn McKenna is an independent journalist who specializes in public health, global health and food policy. She is a columnist for Wired’s Ideas section, a columnist for Scientific American and a long-form and investigative writer for Self, the Atlantic, the Guardian, Nature and other publications in the United States, Europe and Asia. She is the author of the 2017 bestseller, “Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats” (National Geographic 2017). She is the author of "Superbug: The Fatal Menace of MRSA" (Free Press/S&S 2010) and "Beating Back the Devil: On the Front Lines with the Disease Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service" (FP/S&S 2004). She is a senior fellow of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University. Previously, she was a newspaper reporter, working for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Boston Herald, The Cincinnati Enquirer and Rockford Register-Star.

Deep in details: Q&A with Hilary Marston, M.D., medical officer and policy adviser for preparedness, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Hilary Marston, M.D., M.P.H., is medical officer and policy adviser for pandemic preparedness, focusing on emerging infectious diseases. She coordinates NIAID response to outbreaks including Zika, Ebola and COVID-19. She has worked with Partners in Health and the Clinton Health Access Initiative. Previously, she worked at McKinsey & Company and at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Maryn McKenna is an independent journalist who specializes in public health, global health and food policy. She is a columnist for Wired’s Ideas section, a columnist for Scientific American and a long-form and investigative writer for Self, the Atlantic, the Guardian, Nature and other publications in the United States, Europe and Asia. She is the author of the 2017 bestseller, “Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats” (National Geographic 2017). She is the author of "Superbug: The Fatal Menace of MRSA" (Free Press/S&S 2010) and "Beating Back the Devil: On the Front Lines with the Disease Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service" (FP/S&S 2004). She is a senior fellow of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University. Previously, she was a newspaper reporter, working for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Boston Herald, The Cincinnati Enquirer and Rockford Register-Star.

Honoring the 2019 Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism

Bridget Balch is a staff writer for the Association of American Medical Colleges News, reporting on news related to academic medicine. Previously, she covered health care for the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and local government for the Houston Chronicle in Texas. Her 2019 investigation into hospital-sponsored guardianships won first place for investigations (small) in the Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism contest and was a finalist for the Livingston Award.

Andrew Jacobs, writes about global health for the science desk of The New York Times. Over more than two decades at the paper, Jacobs has reported from more than a dozen countries and he spent nearly eight years in the Beijing bureau. In the U.S., he has covered a variety of beats, from the New York City police department to the American south. He has been part of two teams of reporters that won Pulitzer Prizes. 

Christina Jewett, a KHN reporter, is writing about health care workers and COVID-19, for the Lost on the Frontline project. Her reporting on secretive FDA device-reporting led to the release of 5.7 million records and was recognized by Barlett & Steele/gold, SPJ Sunshine Award, an Edward R. Murrow award and the Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. She previously worked at Reveal, where her work with colleagues was recognized with a George Polk Award. Prior, she worked at ProPublica and the Sacramento Bee.

Roxanne Khamsi is an independent journalist whose articles have appeared in publications such as The Economist, Wired magazine and The New York Times Magazine. For more than a decade, she served as chief news editor at the international biomedical journal Nature Medicine. In addition to her work as a writer and editor, she has taught at Stony Brook University’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.

Taylor Knopf is a freelance health reporter based in Raleigh, N.C. She primarily writes about mental health for North Carolina Health News. Her areas of coverage include state policy changes, addiction and harm reduction solutions; as well as the intersection of mental health and the criminal justice system. 

Lucas Manfield is a reporter at Mountain State Spotlight, a nonprofit investigative newsroom in West Virginia and is a Report for America corps member. Previously, he covered housing, health care and government accountability for the Dallas Observer and interned at inewsource in San Diego. He graduated from Columbia Journalism School in 2019.

Amy Maxmen, Ph.D., is a reporter at Nature and her work appears in National Geographic, Wired and Nautilus. Her stories on infectious disease outbreaks have garnered several journalism awards. She earned a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from Harvard University. See her work at www.amymaxmen.com and follow her on Twitter @amymaxmen.

Bob Roehr is a freelance biomedical journalist based in Washington, D.C. For more than 25 years he has focused on HIV and infectious diseases, writing for mix of medical trade publications such as The British Medical Journal and Medscape; and for the general public through the Bay Area Reporter, Leapsmag.com and Scientific American among others. He has traveled extensively, including reporting from the landmark 2000 International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa.

Wendi Thomas is the editor and publisher of MLK50: Justice Through Journalism. She is also a member of ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network. Thomas was a 2016 fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. She’s a veteran of the daily newspapers in Memphis, Charlotte, Nashville and Indianapolis. She is the 2020 Selden Ring Award winner and tied for first place in the Investigative Reporters & Editors 2019 contest.

Alison Young is the Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Reporting and Washington Program director for the Missouri School of Journalism. Before joining the university last year, she spent nearly 10 years as an investigative reporter for USA Today. Young continues to report as a freelancer, most recently for ProPublica. She is a past president of Investigative Reporters and Editors’ board. Honors include three Scripps Howard Awards, a duPont-Columbia Award and multiple winning entries for Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism.

Efforts in the works to ease a strained health care workforce

Karen Swartz, M.D., is the director of clinical and educational programs in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Mood Disorders Center; associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is leading the Johns Hopkins Department of Psychiatry’s efforts to provide psychological support and psychiatric care to frontline health care workers. She holds the Myra S. Meyer professorship in mood disorders.

Cynda Hylton Rushton, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., is the Anne and George Bunting professor of clinical ethics, nursing & medicine at Johns Hopkins University. She co-led a national collaborative State of the Science Initiative: Transforming Moral Distress into Moral Resilience in Nursing. She was a member of the National Academies Committee that produced: "Taking Action Against Clinician Burnout: A Systems Approach to Professional Well-being." She is the editor and author of "Moral Resilience: Transforming Moral Suffering in Healthcare."

Robert Espinoza is the vice president of policy, PHI, where he directs a national policy advocacy and research program focused on the direct care workforce and long-term care. Espinoza is a nationally recognized expert in aging, caregiving and long-term care workforce issues; serves on the board of directors for the American Society on Aging and the National Academy of Social Insurance.

Moderator: Liz Seegert is an independent health journalist and AHCJ’s core topic leader on aging. Her lengthy reporting career spans print, digital and broadcast media; she now primarily covers aging, boomers, and health policy. Seegert’s writing credits include Time Health, PBS/NextAvenue.com, Consumer Reports, Medical Economics, The Guardian and Medscape Her stories have been syndicated in Forbes.com, the Los Angeles Times, Hartford Courant, and Modern Medicine, among others. (@lseegert)


Thursday, Nov. 19

Welcome Message, Day’s Agenda, Intro First Session

Andrew Smiley is the new executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. He also has been named an assistant professor of professional practice at the Missouri School of Journalism. Smiley comes to AHCJ from a sports broadcasting background, including nearly a decade at the Golf Channel/NBC Sports, where he most recently served as coordinating director. He also spent a decade at ESPN in programming and studio directing, where he won an Emmy, and a short stint with the PBS affiliate in Chattanooga, Tenn. andrew@healthjournalism.org

The hidden side of mental health during a pandemic

Sarah Vinson, M.D., is a triple board-certified child and adolescent, adult and forensic psychiatrist. She is the founder of Lorio Forensics and the Lorio Psych Group. She is an associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at Morehouse School of Medicine and adjunct faculty at Emory School of Medicine.

Elizabeth A. Stuart, Ph.D., is associate dean for education and Bloomberg professor of american health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with appointments in the Departments of Mental Health, Biostatistics and Health Policy and Management. Stuart is a member of the Johns Hopkins COVID and mental health measurement working group, which has been tracking population mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

R. Dale Walker, M.D., Cherokee from Claremore, Okla., is emeritus professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Ore., and the director of the One Sky National Center for American Indian Health, Education and Research. The Center provides expert consultation, training and technical assistance that facilitate strategic planning and leadership development for optimal health service delivery for tribes and Native communities across North America.

Moderator: Katti Gray, AHCJ's core topic leader on mental health, is providing resources to help journalists expand their coverage of mental health amid ongoing efforts to de-stigmatize mental illness and to place mental health care on par with all health care. Gray was a Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellow. Her work has been published by The Washington Post, Salon, Reuters, New York Newsday, Los Angeles Times, Health Affairs, Essence, Colorlines, CNN, CBS News, ABC News and AARP. Her writings appear in, among other books, "The Criminalization of Mental Illness" and "Narrative Matters: Writing to Change the Health Care System." (@kattigray)

Health: Disparities among hard-hit populations

Stephanie Innes covers health with a focus on patient safety, hospital quality, consumer experiences and health policy for The Arizona Republic. She previously covered health for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. She was a 2016 AHCJ Reporting Fellow on Health Care Performance and a 2013-14 AHCJ Regional Health Journalism Fellow.

Carmen Alvarez, Ph.D., R.N., C.R.N.P., C.N.M., F.A.A.N., is an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. Her research focuses on the development and implementation of health promotion interventions for underserved ethnic groups with a history of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and intimate partner violence (IPV). She is also a family nurse practitioner serving uninsured and underinsured populations.

Namandjé Bumpus, Ph.D., is a molecular pharmacologist with expertise in drug development, drug metabolism, pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine. Her research focuses on understanding the molecular basis of inter-individual differences in drug outcomes. Bumpus is the chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Moderator: Maria Guadalupe Ortiz-Briones has been a journalist for more than a decade working in the Central Valley. She is a reporter for Vida en el Valle, a bilingual McClatchy publication, and covers health issues impacting Latinos. She has received numerous journalism fellowships, awards from the NAHP, has been recognized by local organizations and has been a presenter at journalism conferences on covering the Latino community. She was a 2013-14 AHCJ Regional Health Journalism Fellow.