2007 Derek Dunn Memorial Senior Scientist Officer of the Year
CDR Martin Sanders
CDR Sanders’s currently serves as Deputy Director, Office of Health and Safety, CDC, in Atlanta, GA. CDR Sanders currently oversees nearly 110 government employees and contractors in the office (he directly supervises and reviews 30 CC officers and civilian staff) and has a critical role in maintaining the health and safety of the CDC workforce worldwide. In his many safety leadership roles at the CDC (Biosafety Officer for the CDC, Executive Secretary to the CDC Occupational Safety and Health Committee, CDC representative for Safety and Health to the National Interagency Biodefense Campus in Frederick, MD, liaison to the Safety Task Force for the Interagency Coordinating Committee, Executive Secretary to the CDC Occupational Safety and Health Committee, Biological Safety Officer for the CDC Institutional Biosafety Committee), CDR Sanders oversees all laboratory and occupational safety activities for the all CDC employees worldwide. He has assumed control of several key initiatives at the CDC, including a complete overhaul of the CDC biosafety program. CDR Sanders has established a reputation for decisiveness, leadership, and innovative thinking. In his brief two year tenure at CDC, CDR Sanders has initiated many new programs ranging from safety training for the top leadership of the CDC to a scientific material recycling program. He maintains his certifications as a biological safety professional from the American Biological Safety Association (CBSP).
CDR Sanders continues his ongoing role as one of four Steering Committee members overseeing the creation of the 5th edition of “Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories.” (BMBL) Over the past two decades, the BMBL has become the consensus Code of Practice for biosafety in laboratories throughout the United States and the world. CDR Sanders has a direct role in the formation of national and international biosafety policy and practice through his role on the Steering committee, and has represented both the National Institutes of Health and the CDC during this four year effort. In addition, he served as coordinating editor for the Arboviral/Hemorrhagic Fever chapter of the BMBL. This chapter, the largest within the BMBL, covers biological safety guidance for over 600 arboviruses and hemorrhagic fever viruses, including some of the world’s most dangerous pathogens and select agents (Ebola virus, Marburg virus, etc.). His contributions to the formation of these global standards have been recognized with a PHS Commendation medal. CDR Sanders has also demonstrated his exceptional abilities and leadership through his support to DHHS and other federal agencies in the areas of biological security and international biotechnology exchange. He continues to support the US State Department and the Office of Global Health Affairs in their non-proliferation programs. As an example, he was appointed to the Senior Advisory Panel for the International Council for the Life Sciences. Through this organization, he supports international efforts in biosafety and biosecurity policy development and training, primarily in the former Soviet Union. He has traveled to the former Soviet Union three times in the last two years to act as a laboratory safety subject matter expert. He trains and offers consultation to the highest levels of the Russian research establishment. CDR Sanders’ continuing efforts allow the United States to engage in cooperative biomedical research with the former Soviet Union and engage Russian former biologic weapons scientists in collaborative research on high-priority public health problems; he has been decorated by the Commissioned Corps for his accomplishments in this area.
This year CDR Sanders, on his own initiative, began to address a recognized national shortage of biosafety professionals trained in high and maximum containment laboratory operations. He has developed and now serves as co-director (along with Emory University Center for Public Health Preparedness) of new graduate courses on biosafety and biosecurity. Through CDR Sanders’ leadership at both the CDC and Emory University, a strategic plan has been initiated to create a unique master’s degree program in biosafety. He has been nominated for a decoration for this effort.
CDR Sanders leads in his field of laboratory safety; he obtained his professional certification (see above) and is active in the American Biological Safety Association. In the international arena, CDR Sanders leads biosafety and biosecurity efforts in the former Soviet Union, working with international organizations dedicated to reducing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In the US, representing both the NIH and the CDC in a four year effort, CDR Sanders helped lead the development of the BMBL and other guidelines that impact biological safety for every biomedical laboratory in the United States. CDR Sanders also led the development of specific guidelines for research on arboviruses and hemorrhagic fever viruses (for which he was decorated). CDR Sanders has led his field in the development of opportunities for biosafety professionals; he led the development of joint CDC-Emory University graduate programs in laboratory safety (see above). In the CC, CDR Sanders has assumed a variety of leadership positions, including chair of the SciPAC (2006 – present) and chair of the PAC Chair Board (2007 – present). In support of transformation efforts, as an appointed member of the Workforce Policy Development Group (WPDG) for recruitment transformation issues, CDR Sanders volunteered to lead subcommittees on oversight group development and scholarship and loan repayment program development. He also leads efforts in his Rapid Deployment Force role (see below). In order to further develop his leadership abilities, CDR Sanders was accepted into and currently participates in the CDC Executive Coaching development program at the CDC. He has served on the Board of Directors for the St. Paul’s Clinic in El Rosario Calle, Honduras as a senior public health advisor to clinic leadership. He was an active adjunct faculty member at the Uniform Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD, and serves in the same capacity at Emory University.
CDR Sanders was appointed to the SciPAC in 2004, since that time he has progressed in responsibility from policy review subcommittee chair, to being elected vice-chair in 2005, and then assuming the role of chair in 2006. CDR Sanders was also elected as vice-chair to the PAC Chair Board in 2006, and currently serves as chair of that group. Both groups allow CDR Sanders to represent his category at the highest levels of the CC. CDR Sanders is also extensively involved in a variety of transformation issues, having been appointed to and currently serving on the WPDG for recruitment transformation issues. As part of this effort, he was appointed to serve as team leader for subcommittees on oversight group development and scholarship and loan repayment program development. CDR Sanders was appointed to the CDC PHS Awards Board in March, 2007.
CDR Sanders currently serves as Chief Safety Officer for the Rapid Deployment Force 3, a Tier 1 deployment role in the Atlanta area. He has deployed four times with the Corps between 2005 and 2006, most recently to support Hurricane Ernesto response activities. Although the RDF only deployed to an assembly area for a week, CDR Sanders volunteered and was forward deployed to the South Carolina emergency operations center as a liaison officer. CDR Sanders completed a two week deployment to the JFO SERT in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He volunteered to redeploy to Lake Charles LA, to act as ESF-8 Coordinator for Lake Charles/Cameron region immediately after Hurricane Rita struck. He was on site less than 24 hours after Hurricane Rita made landfall and spent 12 days deployed in harsh field conditions. He has assumed leadership roles within the RDF; he currently leads development activities for all RDFs related to safety SOPs. CDR Sanders received the Field Medical Readiness Badge in 2007.
CDR Sanders was appointed as an Associate Recruiter and has completed all his required recruiting activities for 2006. CDR Sanders is a member of COA and has been accepted for assimilation to the Regular Corps in 2007.
CDR Sanders is an outstanding example of a dedicated Scientist Officer. He represents the best traits and attributes of a Commissioned Officer. He has volunteered his time and efforts to serve his peers, his fellow officers, his agencies, and the Public Health Service. CDR Sanders is truly deserving of this award.
2007 Young Scientist Officer of the Year
LCDR Mark Methner
Industrial Hygiene Association, and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists for 15 years. He has served as a technical reviewer for Toxicology Letters and the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene for the last 12 years. LCDR Methner has completed numerous emergency response training courses and serves as both a NIOSH and CDC First Responder and is a member of the APHT Team #2. Finally, LCDR Methner annually completes a recertification course to maintain his designation as a Hazardous Materials Technician and has completed more than 40 hours of professional continuing education during the past year. LCDR Methner, on his own initiative, coordinated Basic Life Support (BLS) training for 25 Cincinnati-based Officers as part of their readiness requirements. He is often called upon to assist officers in meeting basic readiness standards, to administer the Annual Physical Fitness Test, and has been designated by the CDC Director of Commissioned Corps as a local uniform inspector.
Achievements LCDR Methner was selected as Junior Officer of the Year in 2006 from more than 30 nominations across all professional categories within the USPHS. LCDR Methner is a recognized national exposure assessment expert in the areas of engineered nanomaterials, diesel exhaust, heavy metals, isocyanates, and pesticides. Currently, LCDR Methner has published 18 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles, 45 professional technical reports, 2 book chapters and given 23 presentations at international conferences, 8 of which were by special invitation with 2 awarded “Best of Session” and “Best of Conference”. This is an unusually high level of productivity. LCDR Methner has earned the USPHS Achievement Medal, Citation, Special Assignment, Outstanding Unit Citation, Unit Commendation (2), Crisis Response Service Award, Field Medical Readiness Badge, National Emergency Preparedness Award, and Commissioned Corps Training Ribbon. LCDR Methner is awaiting Senate confirmation for Assimilation into the Regular Corps.
LCDR Methner recently completed a national-scale exposure assessment involving diesel exhaust, carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, and volatile organic compounds at numerous airport passenger/baggage screening areas operated by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA). This project required extensive logistical planning in addition to developing unique sampling methodologies. The implemented recommendations of this major effort substantially improved air quality in the baggage screening areas and resulted in a 72% reduction in complaints made by baggage screening workers. These recommendations have also been applied to other airports across the U.S and have improved the TSA Nationwide Health and Safety Policy. This research effort has been presented at an International Industrial Hygiene Conference and also published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
LCDR Methner also led an occupational exposure assessment for diesel exhaust and carbon monoxide at 3 maritime shipping terminals. Through extensive environmental monitoring and exposure assessments (151 full-shift personal exposure samples) among Longshore workers, LCDR Methner concluded that the configuration of the exhaust system used on specific types of equipment resulted in increased diesel exhaust exposure to workers. After his recommended engineering changes were made to the exhaust system, more than 50% of affected workers indicated that their exposure to diesel exhaust (a recognized carcinogen) was greatly diminished. His work garnered two letters of appreciation from the Pacific Maritime Association.
LCDR Methner was among the first wave of CDC responders to Hurricane Katrina, August 2005. During one of his daily in-field hazard assessments, LCDR Methner identified potentially fatal work practices involving carbon monoxide emissions and was directly responsible for ameliorating the exposure to approximately 150 emergency workers. Additionally, LCDR Methner often goes beyond what is expected and routinely “thinks outside the box”. This trait was substantiated when he contacted a nearby DMAT Team and arranged for their staff and vaccination equipment to deploy to the location of 185 clean-up workers and administer Hepatitis A, B, and Tetanus vaccinations. This effort resulted in very little interruption of the massive cleanup effort and also allowed all workers to update their immunizations. His effort in this regard was formally recognized by being selected “Employee of the Day” by the Director of the CDC Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Also while deployed to New Orleans, LCDR Methner routinely collaborated with members of the other uniformed services. These interactions were accomplished with pride and professionalism which visibly brought positive recognition to the USPHS. As an example, LCDR Methner immediately responded, under austere field conditions, to a request by a U.S. Marine Corps General to provide safe work practice instruction to a Company of Marines during a particularly dangerous clean up operation in New Orleans. Efforts such as these quickly distinguished LCDR Methner as a competent leader and valuable resource during any deployment. Recently, LCDR Methner took the initiative and presented a series of seminars on the health hazards associated with exposure to engineered nanomaterials at local universities and at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The positive response from attendees of these educational seminars led to a formal request for LCDR Methner to conduct the first of its kind occupational exposure assessment of engineered nanomaterials at a university research lab. The outcome of this assessment provided important insight into previously unrecognized occupational exposure to engineered nanomaterials. Additionally, this pioneering effort reflected positively on both NIOSH and the USPHS and showcased the important service each entity provides. Following this effort, LCDR Methner was selected by the NIOSH Director to serve as the Nanotechnology Field Research Team Leader. This team is responsible for developing and implementing the NIOSH Nanotechnology occupational exposure measurement research effort as well as assessing worker exposure in a variety of facilities engaged in research, development, scale-up, manufacture or use of nanomaterials. Over the past year, LCDR Methner has assumed sole responsibility for leading multidisciplinary teams that conducted quantitative field research involving nanomaterial exposure in 8 different workplaces across the country. This level of effort is considered extraordinary given the magnitude and complexity of each of the studies. The results of these pioneering studies have been presented by LCDR Methner to the international occupational safety and health community by way of invited presentations at scientific conferences and meetings. Additionally, these studies provide critical exposure assessment data for continually updating the NIOSH guidance document entitled: “Approaches to Safe Nanotechnology”.
In conclusion, LCDR Methner exhibits exceptional problem solving skills in a host of environments, routinely meets challenges and shows a talent for recognizing potential ways to contribute to furthering the mission of the USPHS. An exceptional officer who wears the uniform daily with pride and distinction with an impressive publication/presentation/research track record and high level of productivity, LCDR Methner is enthusiastically nominated for Young Scientist of the Year for 2007.