UMass Medical School Ebola fighters honored for lifesaving work in Liberia

Global health heroes of the Academic Consortium Combating Ebola in Liberia to be recognized at Commencement 2015

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

May 26, 2015
  All of the Ebola fighters who will be honored at Commencement have spent extensive time in Liberia and are participants in the Academic Consortium Combating Ebola in Liberia.
  All of the Ebola fighters who will be honored at Commencement have spent extensive time in Liberia and are participants in the Academic Consortium Combating Ebola in Liberia. Pictured is a shipment of $1.7 million in personal protective equipment for health care workers in Liberia that ACCEL facilitated.  

Although the Ebola outbreak in West Africa unfolded half a world away from UMass Medical School in Worcester, the crisis in West Africa engaged the hearts, minds and hands-on expertise of a phalanx of UMMS faculty members and collaborators.

These brave and committed individuals will be recognized for their selfless and lifesaving efforts to help stem the Ebola outbreak in Liberia at UMass Medical School’s 42nd Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 31.

All have spent extensive time in Liberia and are participants in the Academic Consortium Combating Ebola in Liberia. Established in 2006 between academic medical centers that have worked together in Liberia to sustainably improve health education and health care delivery, ACCEL comprises UMass Medical School, Boston Children’s Hospital, Mt. Sinai Medical School, the University of Florida Medical School, the University of Maryland Medical School, Vanderbilt University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Transportation and Logistics. The MIT Humanitarian Response Lab and Avenir Analytics were added as partners to efficiently and effectively meet the logistical demands of the Ebola response.

With funds from a $7.5 million grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation’s #TackleEbola initiative, UMMS is leading ACCEL in providing hands-on safety training, protective supplies, lab capabilities and much needed support to Liberia’s health care system. Going forward, ACCEL will continue to provide teaching faculty and to support Liberia’s A. M. Dogliotti College of Medicine and the Liberian Post-Graduate Medical Council, with the goal of increasing the number of physicians in Liberia.

The Ebola fighters receiving special recognition from UMass Medical School, all UMMS faculty except as noted, are:

Katherine Luzuriaga, MD, the UMass Memorial Health Care Chair in Biomedical Research, professor of molecular medicine, pediatrics and medicine; vice provost for clinical and translational science and global health; and director of the UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science. As the founding director of the UMMS Office of Global Health, Dr. Luzuriaga  taken a leadership role in several global health initiatives, including Liberian Ebola relief and the USAID-funded collaboration with the University of Liberia to establish the UL Center for Excellence in Health and Life Sciences. 

Patricia McQuilkin, MD, clinical associate professor of pediatrics. Having worked extensively in Liberia prior to the epidemic, Dr. McQuilkin is co-director of ACCEL and a project leader on the $7.5 million Ebola relief grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. She has worked with the Liberian Post-Graduate Medical Council to restore critical medical education and training programs in Liberia.

Jeffrey Bailey, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine. Dr. Bailey first worked in Liberia as a Peace Corps volunteer, and later served as visiting faculty and helped upgrade computer resources at A.M. Dogliotti Medical College prior to the outbreak. With expertise in molecular diagnostics, as well as in transfusion medicine, Dr. Bailey leads the laboratory component of the project. He is working with the Liberian Ministry of Health to develop capacity for molecular diagnostics and to enhance transfusion medicine in Liberia.

Donna Gallagher, PhD, MSN, MA, instructor in family medicine & community health and nursing and co-founder and co-director of the UMMS Office of Global Health. A nurse practitioner who has worked over many years to implement health training programs in Liberia, Gallagher was responsible for organizing efforts to collect Ebola relief supplies and to recruit nurses in the Ebola relief effort.

Mark Bisanzo, MD, clinical associate professor of emergency medicine. Dr. Bisanzo, who worked extensively in Uganda before joining UMMS and ACCEL, is founding director of the Global Emergency Care Collaborative, and worked to recruit physicians to the Ebola relief efforts.

Richard Sacra, MD, assistant professor of family medicine & community health. A missionary physician in Liberia when he contracted Ebola last year, Dr. Sacra made a full recovery and twice returned to Liberia (where he is currently) to provide direct clinical care.

Michelle Niescierenko, MD, pediatric emergency physician and director of the Global Health Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, is a project leader on the Allen Family Foundation grant along with McQuilkin. Dr. Niescierenko has led the Infection Prevention and Control efforts, which have kept Liberian health care staff “safe and serving” at  government hospitals. She is also currently in Liberia. 

Steven Hatch, MD, assistant professor of medicine. First traveling to Liberia to work for the International Medical Corps as a staff physician at their rural Ebola Treatment Unit, Dr. Hatch has since returned with ACCEL to train health care workers and restore medical infrastructure.

Gary Sharpe, MD, instructor in emergency medicine. Specializing in pediatric emergency medicine, Dr. Sharpe is an International Emergency Medicine and Global Health Fellow at UMMS, who traveled to Liberia to work at an Ebola Treatment Unit.

Ann Moormann, PhD, associate professor of molecular medicine, pediatrics and quantitative health sciences. Co-director of the International Medical Education and Global Health Pathway programs and associate executive director for the UMMS-AMPATH (Academic Model Providing Access to Health) partnership, Dr. Moormann brings expertise in infectious diseases, pediatrics and global health to ACCEL.

Jarrod Goentzel, PhD, founder and director of the MIT Humanitarian Response Lab in the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics. Dr. Goentzel is a research lead for the MIT Comprehensive Initiative on Technology Evaluation sponsored by USAID. He, together with partners at Avenir Analytics, provided critical logistics support for the project.

Gail Scully, MD, assistant professor of medicine. An is an infectious disease and travel medicine specialist at UMMS clinical partner UMass Memorial Medical Center, Dr. Scully has recently returned from Monrovia, where she worked to train health care workers and to restore medical infrastructure.

Kanagasabai Udhaysashankar, MD, is deputy project director of ACCEL. A graduate of A.M. Dogliotti Medical College and Cuttington University College in Liberia, Dr. Udhaysashankar has led the IPC teams, who have been at the front lines fighting Ebola throughout the epidemic. 

Related links on UMassMedNow:
UMMS faculty recognized for Ebola relief efforts at annual American Red Cross Event
Dr. Sacra: What's next for Liberia
UMMS Ebola relief effort ships $1.7M in protective gear for health care workers in Liberia
UMMS leading drive to reopen Liberian hospitals in wake of Ebola
UMMS ‘priceless ally’ in the Ebola fight, according to Telegram op-ed
UMMS Ebola Relief effort launched with $7.5M Paul G. Allen Family Foundation grant
Ebola free, Rick Sacra continues call for prayers, support for his ‘adopted country’
UMass Medical School partners to send Ebola relief to Liberia
UMMS installing modern technology at Liberia’s only med school
Gilroy teaches anatomy in Liberia: Working in brand new lab at the A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine
UMMS faculty form strong bonds with Liberia
Library projects lending order to chaos in Liberia
Medical School team rebuilding health care in Liberia

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