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2011 Champaign County Summit Presenters

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Nathan Wolfe


Dr. Nathan Wolfe is the CEO and founder of Global Viral Forecasting, GVF, a pandemic early warning system which monitors the spillover of novel infectious agents from animals into humans. He has published over 50 articles and chapters. Among his major findings include the discovery of the first evidence of natural transmission of retroviruses from nonhuman primates to humans. Dr. Wolfe has received research support totaling over $20 million in grants and contracts from the Google.org, The Skoll Foundation, NIH, the National Science Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Geographic Society, Merck Research Laboratories and has extensive consulting experience as well as has served on a number of advisory and editorial boards, such as of EcoHealth DARPA's Defense Science Research Council (DSRC). Dr. Wolfe has over eight years of full-time experience living and conducting biomedical research in Southeast Asia (Malaysia) and sub-Saharan Africa (Cameroon, Uganda). Additionally, his work received popular attention, including, among others, features in The New York Times, Wired, The Economist, Men's Journal, and Der Spiegel. His work has been featured in documentaries forNational Geographic and CNN's Planet in Peril, and he has had multiple appearances on NPR and National Geographic Weekend.

Main Session Speaker

Dr. Mark Dworkin


Dr. Mark Dworkin is a medical doctor (Rush Medical College) and is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases. He obtained a Master's Degree in Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University School of Tropical Medicine and Public Health. He has also completed the Center's for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) 2-year Epidemic Intelligence Service Fellowship (Washington State), worked at the CDC for 4 years as the Project Officer for the Adult and Adolescent Spectrum of HIV Disease Surveillance Project in the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention (Atlanta) and served as the Illinois Department of Public Health's State Epidemiologist in the Division of Infectious Diseases and the team leader for the Rapid Response Team during 2000 to 2006. He has led several dozen outbreak investigations and participated in or assisted with many others of various infectious diseases such as salmonellosis, shigellosis, and pertussis. In 2006, he joined the faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health as an Associate Professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. He has authored or co-authored many published scientific peer-reviewed articles on various infectious disease, authored several textbook chapters and review articles, and is the editor of a textbook entitled Cases in Field Epidemiology: A Global Perspective . He has been awarded both the Commendation Medal and the Achievement Medal by the United States Public Health Service.

Closing Session Speaker

Allen Lynch, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient


Allen Lynch served for twenty years as the Chief, Veterans Rights Bureau of the Illinois Attorney General retiring in November 2005. He has thirty years of experience in Veterans Affairs. Lynch began his career with the Veterans Administration in 1970 and served twelve years as a Veterans Benefits Counselor at the Chicago VA Regional Office and as the Chief of Ambulatory Care, at the North Chicago VA Hospital. In 1983, he took a position with the Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program as the Executive Vice President. In 1985, Allen was appointed Chief of the new Veterans Rights Bureau in the Illinois Attorney General's Office. The Veteran Rights Bureau is the only one of its kind in the country. Allen provides assistance to veterans seeking to obtain benefits from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Through the Attorney General's Office Allen has been able to assist thousands of veterans who have had difficulties in obtaining VA compensation for service incurred disabilities. Allen retired from the Attorney General's office in 2005. He now works as a volunteer with Vietnam Veterans of America as the Chief Service Officer. Allen served on active duty from November 1964 to April 25, 1969. He served in Germany from 1965 until he volunteered for service in Vietnam in 1967. While in Vietnam he served with D, Company 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry, and 1st Cavalry Division. On December 15, 1967 Allen distinguished himself on the battlefield and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Allen retired from the Illinois Army National Guard as a First Sergeant in 1994. He is an honorable and distinguished individual who continues to fight for a cause and promote advocacy.

Dan Bronson Lowe, PhD

Dan Bronson-Lowe is an infection preventionist at Carle Foundation with degrees in microbiology and epidemiology. He also teaches health data analysis to students at UIUC. Prior to arriving in Illinois, he worked for Arizona's state health department as an infectious disease epidemiologist and coordinated the state's influenza surveillance system.

Russel Kirby, PhD

Russell S. Kirby, PhD, MS, FACE is professor and Marrell endowed chair in the Department of Community and Family Health, University of South Florida. Trained as a human geographer (PhD, Univ of Wisconsin 1981) he has spent his entire professional career working in the field of public health, at the state level, as a faculty member of two medical schools and since 2002 as a professor of public health. A noted perinatal and pediatric epidemiologist, he is also a proponent of integration of GIS and geospatial methodologies into public health research and practice.

Allison Shobe, DVM

Dr. Shobe is a public health veterinarian and US Air Force Captain (1999-2005). She will be speaking about her experiences as a member of a CDC Epidemiology Investigation Team during a 2010 outbreak of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in the US.

Captain Justin Short

Captain Justin Short is a full time Health Service Administrator in the Illinois Air National Guard. Capt. Short is responsible for operations, plans and programs for a 47 member CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) Medical Element. Ensures Air National Guard medical providers, Nurses and Medical Technicians meet all clinical and emergency response training required for the unique CERFP mission. Illinois' CERFP is one of 17 current and a total of 27 future teams around the country.

Ian Brooks, PhD

Ian Brooks, PhD, is the Director of the Health Sciences Group at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. He has a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and prior to joining NCSA worked as a research scientist at SmithKline Beecham, where he published in areas including HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's, and Heart Disease. He then headed the life sciences and statistics groups at Wolfram Research, the makers of Mathematica. Dr. Brooks has been developing data management and analysis software systems for biomedical communities for over 20 years and is currently working to bring high performance computing to the biomedical and public health fields.

Bernard Heilicser, DO, MS, FACEP, FACOEP

Dr Heilicser graduated from the Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine, and has an M.S. in Neuroanatomy from the Hahnemann Medical College. He completed a Fellowship in Clinical Medical Ethics at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Bernie is a practicing emergency physician at Ingalls Hospital in Harvey, Illinois, and Medical Director of the South Cook Country EMS system. He is a Deputy Medical Director and Deputy Commander of the Illinois Medical Emergency Response Team. He is the Lead Physician and a Medical Manager of the Illinois Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue Team. He has been an active volunteer fireman for 30 years. Bernie is the Director of the Medical Ethics Program at Ingalls, and Chairperson of the Hospital Ethics Committee. He is a member of the American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physician Ethics Committee.

Yvette J. Johnson-Walker, DVM

Yvette Johnson-Walker received Bachelor's Degrees in Animal and Veterinary Sciences in 1987, a DVM in 1989 and a Master's in Veterinary Clinical Medicine in 1993 all from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She completed a PhD in Analytical Epidemiology from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan in 1998. She is currently a clinical epidemiologist at the University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine in the Center for One Health Illinois. Her research interests include food and water safety and security, and risk factors for interspecies transmission of zoonotic pathogens. She has developed and implemented several training exercises on outbreak response for public health personnel.

Marilyn Ruiz, PhD

Dr. Marilyn Ruiz, is a Clinical Associate Professor, in the Division of Epidemiology at the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana. Marilyn's research interests are in the synthesis of factors related to disease transmission in particular places and times, including conditions and characteristics of places that are associated with illness. Her work on spatial risk models of West Nile virus (WNV) in people, birds and mosquitoes and Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in white-tail deer in Illinois are projects that exemplify this focus. Prior to her current position at the University of Illinois, Marilyn was an Assistant Professor of Geography at Florida State University. She has also worked as a research geographer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the Construction Engineering Research Lab in Champaign, Illinois.

Al Darelius

Al Darelius is the Emergency Preparedness Manger at the Clinton Power Station, Exelon Nuclear. He is responsible for implementation of the Emergency Preparedness program at the station. This includes all programs, processes, procedures and training as well as implementation. Clinton Power Station has a positive track record with regard to Emergency Preparedness under Al's direction. Darelius joined Clinton Station in 1985 as an RP Technician after leaving the University of Missouri - Columbia Research Reactor as a Health Physics Technician. Before that he was with Gilbert Commonwealth in Pennsylvania and spent eight years in the U. S. Navy's nuclear power program. Prior to becoming the Clinton's EP Manager, Darelius spent time as: Senior QA Specialist, Radiation Protection Shift Supervisor, and Lead Nuclear Oversight Assessor.

Sheila Ferguson

Ms. Sheila Ferguson, MSW, LCSW, has worked for Community Elements, formerly The Mental Health Center of Champaign County, for twenty years. Community Elements educates, advocates, and helps build communities of well-being by providing individuals and families a range of prevention, intervention, and mental health treatment services. These services are culturally inclusive, client/family-focused, and recovery-centered through service excellence, mentoring, and leadership.

Neil Huych, Pharm D.

Neil Huyck, Pharm.D. is a medical science liaison (MSL) with GlaxoSmithKline. During his 10 years as an MSL he has worked in several therapeutic areas including diabetes, cardiovascular, and urology. His current responsibilities include working with healthcare providers and researchers interested in the field of vaccines and anti-infectives. Prior to joining GSK, Dr Huyck was extensively involved in patient care while working as a clinical pharmacist/coordinator in a large teaching hospital in Kalamazoo, MI.

Dana Ray, MD

Graduate of SIU School of Medicine in 2003 and from SIU Family Practice Residency in 2006. She is currently the Medical Director of the Community Health Improvement Center (C.H.I.C). Frances Nelson Health Center is a satellite site. Dr. Ray also currently serves on the City Council in Decatur, IL.

Irfan Ahmad, Ph. D

Irfan Ahmad is inaugural president of Avicenna Community Health Center board of directors. Ahmad had conceived of this venture as a social entrepreneurial endeavor, on noticing the plight of uninsured residents of Champaign County. He is recipient of Champaign-Urbana International Humanitarian Award. Ahmad is a research scientist and an agricultural and biological engineer, and is currently Executive Director of the University of Illinois Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology.

Mary Jane LaMontagne, RN, BSN, MBA

Mary Jane LaMontagne, RN, BSN, MBA has 35 years of nursing experience in various ambulatory and acute care settings. She is a graduate of the U of I College of Nursing, the U of I, Springfield College of Business, and is a certified Parish Nurse through the Community Parish Nurse Program sponsored by the Carle Foundation. Mary Jane is employed as a Quality Improvement Coordinator by Health Alliance Medical Plans and is the Parish Nurse for Savoy United Methodist Church, Savoy, IL.

Susan Farner, PhD, MT(ASCP)

Dr. Susan Farner is a lecturer in the Community Health Department at the University of Illinois at the Urbana-Champaign campus. She has 28 years of experience as a medical technologist with an emphasis in microbiology. She is on the Board and the Policy and Legislative Committee for the Illinois Rural Health Association. She served as the chair of the McLean County IPLAN subcommittee addressing cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease in the low income, minority, and elderly population.

David Milen, Ph. D.

David currently works with Franciscan Alliance, St. Margaret Health, in Hammond and Dyer, IN, as Disaster preparedness Coord. His background is in public health and emergency preparedness. He is a former professional firefighter and earned his PhD in public and community health from Walden University where he also teaches in the School of Public Policy and Administration. David has published and presented internationally regarding disaster and emergency preparedness and has also assisted in relief efforts in Haiti after the earthquake. He was recently honored with the Timothy Galvin Award for community outreach and philanthropy.

Judith A. Conway, RN, BS, CIC

Judy Conway is the Infection Control Coordinator for the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Office of Health Protection Communicable Disease Control Section. She is a graduate of St. John's Hospital School of Nursing (Springfield, IL) and the University of St. Francis (Joliet, IL). Her hospital nursing background includes pediatrics, neonatal intensive care, utilization management, quality improvement, and infection control. Judy has worked for IDPH since 2003 and has been certified in infection control since 1995.