Emerging Threats


 Monzer Yazji, MD

Monzer H Yazji, MD has been practicing in the United States as a physician specializing in Internal Medicine since 1998. Dr. Yazji is the owner and President of a multi-specialty practice. He is currently the owner and medical director of the Jackson Imaging Center as well as the Monzer H. Yazji MD and Associates medical office in the Rio Grande Valley.
Along with founding the Rio Grande Valley Diabetes Association in 2006, Dr. Yazji is a board member of various associations and organizations such as South Texas Health Systems and the Cornerstone Regional Hospital. He also holds memberships with many professional organizations such as the American College of Physicians, and the American, Texas, Hidalgo County, Syrian, and Southern Medical Associations.

 Syrian Medical Team Under Siege

 This presentation will cover the dire situation for medical professionals in Syria and how they are coping with it and what is being done for them.


 Nathan P. Jones, PhD, MPH

Prior to joining the Sam Houston State University Security Studies Department as an Assistant professor, Dr. Jones was the Alfred C. Glassell III Postdoctoral Fellow in Drug Policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute for public policy, where his research focused on drug violence in Mexico. He has published with numerous think tanks, including the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and InSight Crime. He has also published with the peer-reviewed journal Trends in Organized crime. While teaching at the University of San Diego (2011-2012), Jones worked closely with the school’s Trans-Border Institute on grant proposals and research projects and was also named a Small Wars El Centro Fellow. He has been a trusted source on issues of violence in Mexico with media outlets such as the Houston Chronicle, Texas Public Radio, the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune, and radio and television. As a Ph.D. student, Dr. Jones won the Institute for Global Conflict and Cooperation Dissertation Fellowship to conduct fieldwork in Mexico and spent a year in Tijuana and Mexico City assessing the resilience and illicit network structure of the Tijuana cartel. His dissertation won the best dissertation award from the Western Political Science Association and the book conversion is currently under contract with Georgetown University Press. Jones also won the James N. Danziger Excellence in Teaching Award from the political science department at UC Irvine.

U.S. Drug Policy and Mexico

This presentation will focus on the impact of U.S. drug policy on Mexico. It will touch upon the changing dynamics of U.S.-Mexico relations, how harm reduction approaches could benefit both nations, and the results of marijuana policy changes in the United States.


 Alfred Scott Lea, MD

A Scott Lea, MD graduated from Baylor College of Medicine in 1975, and then completed his internal medicine residency training in 1979 at the Baylor Affiliated Hospitals in Houston, Texas. He was the chief resident for internal medicine at the Ben Taub General Hospital during the 1979-1980 academic year. He completed his infectious disease training at Baylor in 1982 and entered the private practice of infectious disease in Waco, Texas, serving in numerous capacities within the community and it’s hospitals for 22 years. He served as the Public Health Authority for the Waco-McLennan County Health District for 19 years. . He came to University of Texas Medical Branch in 2007 as an Associate Professor of Medicine. He has been heavily involved in the clinical aspects of ‘Special Pathogens’ as the clinical liason to the Galveston National Laboratory. He is a member of the Infectious Disease Society of America, Alpha Omega Alpha, the Texas Medical Association, the Texas Infectious Disease Society, and the American College of Physicians. He has been elected as a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and has been named to ‘America’s Top Physicians’, ‘The Best Doctors in America’, Texas Monthly’s “Super Doctors’ and to Houstonia Magazine’s ‘Our Best Doctors” on several occasions. He is a founding diplomat and member of the American Board of Wound Medicine and Surgery.

The Problems of “Special Pathogens”

The recent occurrence of Ebola Virus Disease in the United States and other western countries has led to some interesting revelations about the disease, its pathophysiology, and methods of control. This lecture will point out the misconceptions, revelations and other unique problems surrounding the medical insight and clinical care of Ebola Virus disease as well as other “Special Pathogens”.


 Robert Emery, DrPH

Dr. Robert Emery is Vice President for Safety, Health, Environment & Risk Management for The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and Professor of Occupational Health at the University of Texas School of Public Health. Bob has over 30 years of experience in health & safety and possesses masters degrees in health physics and environmental sciences, and a doctorate in occupational health. Bob holds the unique distinction of being the only person to hold national board certification in all of the seven main areas of health and safety.


What Every Public Health Professional Needs to Know About “Global Health Security”

A series of global factors are combining to make the risk of infectious disease perhaps the world’s most significant health and safety threat. The five risk factors include (1) the emergence and spread of new microbes, (2) the globalization of travel and food supply, (3) the rise of drug-resistant pathogens, (4) the acceleration of biological science capabilities and the risk that these capabilities may cause the inadvertent or intentional release of pathogens, and (5) continued concerns about the acquisition, development, and use of biological agents by state or non-state actors. Given the convergence of these risk trends, a new international initiative termed “Global Health Security” has been launched by the White House in February 2014 which consists of strategies for the prevention, detection, and response to infectious disease outbreaks in all settings. This presentation will describe the Global Health Security initiative and what aspects everyone in the public health continuum should be aware of, not only for the protection of their organizations, but also for the protection of themselves, their loved ones, and society as a whole.


Willa Friedman, PhD

Willa Friedman is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Houston. She was previously a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Center for Global Development, and she completed her PhD in economics at UC Berkeley. Friedman's research focuses on how individual behaviors are shaped by their institutional contexts and how these behavioral responses determine the ultimate impacts of proposed or implemented policies. She has studied and continues to study causes of participation in violence, the impact of ARV access on sexual activity, the role of corruption and clientelism in changing the impacts of health service provision, and the relationship between education and political beliefs. Ongoing projects investigate health-seeking behavior among people living with HIV in Uganda, the behavior of licensed chemical sellers in Ghana, advertising and take-up of voluntary medical male circumcision in South Africa, and habit formation in condom use.

Corruption and Averting AIDS Deaths

What is the impact of corruption on the effectiveness of antiretroviral drugs in preventing AIDS deaths and why? This study is based on a unique panel dataset of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, which combines infor- mation on all imported antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) from the World Health Organization’s Global Price Reporting Mechanism with measures of corruption and estimates of the HIV prevalence and the number of AIDS deaths in each year and in each country. Countries with higher levels of corruption experience a significantly smaller drop in AIDS deaths as a result of the same quantity of ARVs imported. This is robust to different measures of corruption and to a measure of overall death rates as well as HIV-specific death rates as the outcome. A case-study analysis of the Kenyan experience illustrates one potential mechanism for the observed effect, demonstrating that disproportionately more clinics begin distributing ARVs in areas that are predominantly represented by the new leader’s ethnic group.


 Sarah Michel, MPH

Sarah Michel came to Baylor College of Medicine after completing her Master of Public Health with a Global Health Concentration at the University of Texas Health Science Center in 2010. Michel earned her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, where she worked for a variety of news media outlets as a student. She has a nonprofit background, as a Research Analyst for The Andrews Foundation and in budgeting and fundraising as a Development Associate for Caritas of Austin. As a graduate student, Michel worked with the Global Health Council, combining her journalism background with her interest in health policy and global health initiatives. In 2006, Michel co-founded Agape Jubilee Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that supports oppressed Christians of Egypt and Sudan in order to meet their most basic needs. For the past eight years she has worked to maintain this organization that aims to educate, inspire, and mobilize individuals to bring lasting support and change to the impoverished people of Egypt and Sudan.

Currently, Michel serves as Senior Project Manager in the Global Initiatives office of Baylor College of Medicine. She manages all academic programs through BGI and works to create innovative technologies for the global market with the Baylor Global Innovation Center.

The Emergency Smart Pod: An Innovative Healthcare Solution to Emerging Threats

The Ebola outbreak plaguing West Africa has claimed the lives of over 9,000 individuals. The burden of disease has risen due to a variety of operational challenges, including inadequate medical facilities, lack of trained personnel, complex infection control procedures and cumbersome personal protective equipment (PPE). These same operational challenges pose a threat to U.S. national security at the onset of any infectious disease outbreak, natural disaster, or chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives (CBRNE) situations at the local, state, national and international level.Our Solution to Combat Threats to National Security is The Emergency Smart Pod (ESP): Modular, Scalable, Rapidly Deployable Units: In an effort to prevent, prepare for and respond to the spread of Ebola, a team from Baylor College of Medicine, in partnership with Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center and Biologics Modular, has designed a clinical management unit for use in a variety of settings. The units are built out of freight shipping containers and are equipped with smart “app” systems for provider education and cyber-secure patient and supply tracking. ESPs are invaluable in enhancing current efforts to provide a more effective and safer environment for patients and staff.

Oral Abstracts

Coming Soon