Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service

Scientist Professional Advisory Committee

2003 Derek Dunn Memorial Senior Scientist Officer of the Year

CAPT Armen Thoumaian

2003-thoumaian.jpgCAPT Armen Thoumaian was a Health Program Evaluation Officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Center for Beneficiary Choices. He received a B.A. degree in Psychology in 1971, an M.A. in General Experimental Psychology in 1975, and a Ph.D. in Social Welfare Policy in 1984. He began his career in the PHS Commissioned Corps in 1990 as a Research Analyst with the Health Care Finance Administration (HCFA) in Baltimore, MD. Over several years, he designed, implemented, managed, and evaluated the Medicare Participating Heart Bypass Center Demonstration. This was a national research demonstration to evaluate the feasibility of negotiated global package payment for Coronary Artery Bypass graft surgery at several hospitals. The purpose of this research was to evaluate both the appropriateness and quality of surgical services at the demonstration sites. The Demonstration resulted in improved patient management, lower hospital costs, and improved patient care with over $40 million dollars in savings to the Medicare Program. In 1996, CAPT Thoumaian became a Senior Technical Advisor with HCFA, and was primarily responsible for the successful completion and evaluation of the Medicare Participating Heart Bypass Center Demonstration, which led to Public Policy initiatives by the President to incorporate this concept within the regular Medicare Program. In 1998, he became a Health Program Evaluations Officer with HCFA’s Beneficiary Health Assessment Group, and designed and wrote the scope of work and research design specifications for the development and testing of a quality-based model for the assessment of service utilization and health care quality outcomes. In 2001, HCFA became CMS, and in the Center for Beneficiary Choices, CAPT Thoumaian designed a new system for a nationwide support system for home health outcome based quality improvement for implementation under the Medicare Quality Improvement Organization Program, and began its implementation as the Home Health Outcome Based Quality Improvement System pilot project in five States. He designed, implemented, and continues to serve as the Project Officer for the multimillion dollar Medicare Lifestyle Modification Program Demonstration and Evaluation to test medical interventions for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. CAPT Thoumaian was a member of the Disaster Medical Assistance Team, Commissioned Corps Readiness Force, and a volunteer with the American Red Cross Mental Health Disaster Team. In those roles, he responded to over 26 Emergency Response/Disasters, including the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. He provided support during various State of the Union Addresses in Washington, DC, as well as floods and hurricane disasters, Operation Provide Refuge in Fort Dix, NJ, and the Orange Alert Deployment in Brooklyn, NY. CAPT Thoumaian is a nationally recognized expert in the negotiated bundled payment program for surgical services. He has published various major papers and publications associated with cost savings for health care financing issues. He is a Regular Corps officer who has received 22 PHS awards, various Army Achievement Medals, and many other Agency Outstanding Achievement Awards.

2003 Young Scientist Officer of the Year

CDR Clement Welsh

CDR Clement Welsh, a Senior Research Scientist Officer in the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry’s (ATSDR) Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, received his in Biology in 1977, an M.S. in Biology in 1979, a Ph.D. in Biological Science in 1985, and an M.P.H. in Environmental Health in 1997. In 1999, he began his PHS career as a Senior Research Scientist Officer in ATSDR in Atlanta, GA. He was recruited to the PHS Commissioned Corps for his unique combination of scientific, public health, and communication training, and experiences in addressing some of the most complicated hazardous waste sites in the country. CDR Welsh served as the leader of a multi-disciplinary team that responded to public health issues. He conducted independent environmental research; prepared scientific papers and public health documents that assessed the effects of exposure to environmental contaminants; and developed public health action plans and provided technical education for communities living near contaminated areas. Recently, CDR Welsh served as the lead Environmental Health Scientist for a site that, in 2001 and 2002, received national and international attention from senior Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials and Congressional representatives as well as the Surgeon General. CDR Welsh conducted numerous site visits and completed area sampling and analyses of a public park and children’s play area located in the vicinity of the contamination. He also participated in frequent public meetings to increase the awareness and understanding of local residents regarding the potential impact on the community from various contaminants. He performed an environmental health assessment, and gathered the support of the EPA and State and local public health agencies. The results revealed significant and widespread contamination. CDR Welsh met with the Mayor of the area and other State and Federal officials, and brought about an immediate clean-up of the children’s play area, as well as the rapid remediation of the remaining contaminated soils. The resulting remedial activities eliminated contaminant exposures to approximately 4,000 area residents and thousands of out-of-town athletes who regularly use the park. The direct impact of the work was the elimination of an estimated 90,000 ‘exposure events’ per year. From 2001-2002, CDR Welsh served as technical director of a childhood blood lead assessment program in Anniston, AL. He was responsible for initiating blood-screening protocols, establishing clinical and laboratory contractor services, coordinating community involvement, and analyzing and reporting the results. The investigative work, report, and follow-up educational efforts greatly increased awareness of lead-related toxicity for children and resulted in exposure prevention measures costing approximately $100,000. His innovated investigation with this project resulted in requests from the president of the county medical association that urged local physicians to mitigate the existing communication problems. CDR Welsh’s efforts, negotiations, and consensus building were able to generate a cooperative atmosphere that enabled a collegial discussion and transfer of vital information. His work with the local physicians will be used as a model at other sites. CDR Welsh’s scientific expertise along with his strong community involvement skills has lead to creative solutions and preventative measures to minimize environmental toxic exposure and thus protect the public health of area residents. In response to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, CDR Welsh served on ATSDR’s rapid assessment team and was deployed to New York City where he served as Public Health Advisor to the City of New York. During his short time in the Corps, he had received four individual or unit PHS honor awards, various ATSDR and EPA Awards of Public Service, and Letters of Excellence. He had written 22 public health documents since being called to active duty and was a member of the SciPAC.

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