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CUGH Satellite Session: COVID-19 in Houston Speakers
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Rebecca Richards-Kortum, PhD
Guided by the belief that all of the world’s people deserve access to health innovation, Professor Rebecca Richards-Kortum’s research and teaching focus on developing low-cost, high-performance technology for low-resource settings. She is known for providing vulnerable populations in the developing world access to life-saving health technology, focusing on diseases and conditions that cause high morbidity and mortality, such as cervical and oral cancer, premature birth, and malaria. Professor Richards-Kortum’s work in appropriate point-of-care screening technologies has earned her induction into the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Rebecca is the Malcolm Gillis University Professor and a member of the Department of Bioengineering at Rice University. After receiving a B.S. in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1985, she continued her graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she received an MS in Physics in 1987 and a PhD in Medical Physics in 1990. She joined the faculty in Bioengineering at Rice University in 2005 and served as Chair of Bioengineering from 2005-2008 and 2012-2014.
Maria Oden, PhD
Maria Oden is a Full Teaching Professor, Department of Bioengineering. She also serves as the founding Director of the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK) and co-director of Rice 360o Institute for Global Health at Rice University. Dr. Oden’s work focusses on educating the next generation of inventors and innovators in the US and at partner institutions worldwide and addressing global health challenges with technology development and implementation. At the OEDK, Rice’s hub for engineering design serving ~1200 students per year, Dr. Oden collaborates with Rice faculty members to develop and execute engineering design courses, programs, a minor, and internship programs that promote invention and innovation amongst undergraduate students in all engineering disciplines. At Rice 360o, Dr. Oden leads efforts to educate the next generation of global health inventors at Rice and at universities in Africa. These efforts include developing technologies to address global health challenges in collaboration with clinical partners and engineers around the world. Several technologies from this program, many initially designed by undergraduate students at the OEDK, are now commercially available and used worldwide. In addition to her professional and teaching responsibilities at Rice, Oden collaborates with colleagues around the world to foster growth in engineering design and invention education. She is a recipient of the 2012 Fred Merryfield Design Award by the American Society for Engineering Education, the George R. Brown Prize for Superior Teaching from Rice University in both 2012 and 2016 and, along with colleague Dr. Rebecca Richards-Kortum, the 2013 $100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for Global Innovation. Dr. Oden is a 2016 AAAS Lemelson Invention Ambassador. Oden is part of the leadership team of Nest 360o: Newborn Essential Solutions and Technologies a program that aims to reduce hospital based newborn deaths in Africa by 50%.
Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH
Washington State Department of Public Health
Dr. Umair Shah, has been recently appointed Secretary of Health for the state of Washington. Since 2013, Dr. Umair A. Shah served as Executive Director and Local Health Authority for Harris County Public Health (HCPH) – the nationally accredited county public health agency for the nation’s 3rd largest county with 4.7 million people. Dr. Shah earned his B.A. (philosophy) from Vanderbilt University; his M.D. from the University of Toledo Health Science Center; and completed an Internal Medicine Residency, Primary Care/General Medicine Fellowship, and M.P.H. (management), at the University of Texas Health Science Center. He also completed an international health policy internship at World Health Organization headquarters in Switzerland. Upon completing training, Dr. Shah began a distinguished career as an emergency department physician at Houston’s Michael DeBakey VA Medical Center. He started his formal public health journey as Chief Medical Officer at Galveston County’s Health District before joining HCPH to oversee its clinical health system and infectious disease portfolio. Under his leadership, HCPH has won numerous national awards including recognition as Local Health Department of the Year from the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) in 2016. Dr. Shah currently holds numerous leadership positions with respected entities like the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention; Trust for America’s Health; Network for Public Health Law; and Texas Medical Association. He previously served as president of NACCHO (and its Texas affiliate) representing the nation’s nearly 3,000 local health departments. Over his career, Dr. Shah has been a clinician, an innovator, an educator, and a leader in health.
Maria E. Bottazzi, PhD
Baylor College of Medicine & Texas Children’s Hospital
Maria Elena Bottazzi, is Associate Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, Professor of Pediatrics and Co-director of Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. She is an internationally recognized vaccinologist with more than two decades of experience advancing product development partnerships. She has built sustainable biotechnology capacity building alliances and successfully transitioned several neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and emerging disease vaccines from bench to clinical trials. As global thought-leader she has received national and international highly regarded awards, has more than 150 scientific papers and participated in more than 250 conferences worldwide. She is Member of the National Academy of Science of Honduras and an Emerging Leader in Health and Medicine Scholar of the National Academy of Medicine in the US. Dr. Bottazzi currently serves as Co-chair of the New Vaccines and Therapeutics Taskforce of the Lancet Commission on COVID-19. She is also a Fellow of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH), the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM), the Leshner Leadership Institute Public Engagement and Sr. Fellow of the American Leadership Forum (ALF). In August 2020, Forbes LATAM selected Dr. Bottazzi as one of 100 Most Powerful Women in Central America. Dr. Bottazzi obtained her bachelor’s degree in Microbiology and Clinical Chemistry from the National Autonomous University of Honduras and a doctorate in Molecular Immunology and Experimental Pathology from the University of Florida. Her post-doctoral training in Cellular Biology was completed at University of Miami and Pennsylvania.
Dana Wiltz-Beckham, DVM, MPH, MBA
Harris County Public Health (HCPH)
Dr. Dana Wiltz-Beckham is a native Houstonian. She earned her undergraduate degree from Prairie View A&M University, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Tuskegee University, and her MPH/MBA from Benedictine University. After veterinary medical school, Dr. Wiltz- Beckham worked in The Gambia, West Africa as a veterinarian and laboratory diagnostician for one year. Returning to the United States, she trained at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center as a National Institute of Health (NIH) fellow in Comparative Medicine. Dr. Wiltz-Beckham has over 20 years of experience in the public health and research fields. Her professional background consist of jobs as a laboratory animal veterinarian consultant, director of Palo Alto College Veterinary Technology Program in San Antonio, TX, Regional Zoonosis Control Veterinarian for Texas Department of Health HSR 6/5S, director of Animal Services, chief epidemiologist, and Director of Community Health Services for Galveston County Health District. Currently, she serves as the director for the Office of Science, Surveillance, and Technology at Harris County Public Health. Additionally, she is a longstanding adjunct faculty member at University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). Dr. Wiltz-Beckham has worked extensively within the Southeast region of Texas on disease investigation, One Health initiatives, emergency management, education and surveillance. Dr. Wiltz-Beckham spends her time away from work with her family and enjoys giving back to the community that made her who she is today.
Bettina M. Beech, PhD, MPH
University of Houston