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Alumni On The Frontlines Of The Crisis

By Ricky Fine

From the Afghan refugee crisis, to emergency response, anthrax investigation, and other issues, the School's alumni have responded to the public health challenges in the post-Sept. 11th world. A sampling of their efforts follows:


Antonia Novello, MD, MPH '82, DrPH '00, commissioner of health for the state of New York. Moments after the attacks, Novello began contacting hospitals throughout New York City, in upstate New York, and in the neighboring states to ensure sufficient hospital beds were available. She also coordinated blood supplies, emergency medical personnel, and environmental health staff. 

Eric Noji, MD, MPH '87, senior medical and public health adviser, Emergency Operations and Information Center, Office of Homeland Security. Noji has been assigned to the Executive Office of the President, The White House, to work on public health issues following the bioterrorism attacks.

Pierre Perrin, MD, MPH '82, chief medical officer, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In supervising the ICRC's health and assistance actions, he is working on the Afghanistan situation as well as on other current crises.

George Korch Jr., PhD '85, postdoctoral fellow '87. Lieutenant Colonel Korch is the deputy commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID, the Department of Defense's only biosafety level 4 laboratory). He oversees research operations and mission planning, including the development of vaccines, therapeutics, and medical diagnostics.

Martin Sanders, PhD '97, postdoctoral fellow '98. Sanders, currently a research scientist at Battelle, Inc., in Bel Air, Md., works for federal and state clients to develop and implement emergency response protocols and technology to counter nuclear, biological, and chemical threats.

Richard Brennan, MBBS, MPH '96, director of the Health Unit at the International Rescue Committee (IRC). The IRC provides humanitarian relief and protection to refugees and conflict-affected populations in 28 countries throughout Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. It is currently providing emergency food aid and environmental health services inside Afghanistan.

Marcel Van Soest, MSc, MPH '98, operational director for the Afghan region for Médecins Sans Frontières Holland (MSF-Holland). Based in MSF-Holland's headquarters in Amsterdam, Van Soest, an epidemiologist, supervises health programs serving populations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.

Abdul Ghaffar, PhD '01, associate, the School's Center for International Emergency, Disaster, and Refugee Studies. He is currently working in Peshawar, Pakistan, conducting research on injuries among the Afghan refugee population.

Peter Beilenson, MD, MPH '90, Baltimore City commissioner of health. In the week following the Sept. 11 attack, Beilenson quickly moved to set up an early warning, biosurveillance system for Baltimore City that collects data daily from emergency room visits by chief complaint, type of ambulance call, elementary school attendance, animal carcasses that are picked up, community health center visits by chief complaint, and, very shortly, over-the-counter sales of flu medications from pharmacies. 

Steven Wiersma, MD, MPH '93, chief, Bureau of Epidemiology, and state epidemiologist, Florida Department of Health. He is leading the Florida investigation into the first cases of intentional anthrax ever to appear in the United States.

Anna Castro Caffarelli, MHS '98, coordinator, New York City Asthma Partnership. She works to ensure that all asthma programs in New York City are informed of the latest information on air quality, provides updates on Department of Health activities, and responds to the public's questions and concern about anthrax and other health issues.

Anbarasi Edward-Raj, PhD, MPH '96, director for maternal and child health, World Relief. World Relief, upon the request of the Iranian government, has sent a team to conduct a needs assessment of the Afghan refugees in Iran.


Ricky Fine is director of Alumni Affairs and Governmental Relations.