Zika: the Current Epidemic, Research Agenda, & Public Health Response


Sommer Hall
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
615 N Wolfe St., Baltimore, MD


February 17, 2016
12:00pm – 2:00pm

Event Summary

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health sought experts from its faculty and those outside in collaborating organizations who will outline the current status of the Zika epidemic. The panel of experts presented on the evidence surrounding this epidemic, and its associated sequelae. The second half of the event featured a discussion about what the research agenda should be and steps towards control.

The event was streamed live on the Hopkins CGH website and an archived version is available below: 


Symposium Agenda

12:00 PM ……………………………….. Welcome & Introduction

Michael Klag, MD, MPH, Dean, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

12:05 PM ……………………………….. Overview: The Zika Epidemic

Tom Quinn, MD, MSc, Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health
Associate Director, International Research, NIAID

12:15 PM ……………………………….. Zika Virology and Transmission


12:30 PM ……………………………….. The PAHO Perspective & Response

Marcos Espinal, MD, DrPH, MPH, Director, Department of Communicable Diseases and Health Analysis, PAHO

12:45 PM ……………………………….. Congenital Defects Associated with Zika Infection

Jeanne Sheffield, MD Director, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Dept. Gynecology and Obstetrics, Johns Hopkins Medicine

1:00 PM ………………………………..  Outbreak Study Design in Brazil

Albert Ko, MD,  Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine, Chair, Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health

1:15 PM ………………………………..   Strategy for Vaccine Development & Evaluation

Anna Durbin MD, Associate Professor, Department of International Health and the Johns Hopkins Vaccine Initiative, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Steve Whitehead PhD, Senior Scientist, Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, NIAID, NIH

1:30 PM ………………………………..    Question & Answer Session

Moderator: Anna Durbin, MD, Associate Professor, Department of International Health and the Johns Hopkins Vaccine Initiative, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

1:55 PM ………………………………..    Summary and Conclusion

Michael Klag, MD, MPH, Dean, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health   


Meet the Speakers

Dr. Anna Durbin is an Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and is the Principal Investigator of a National Institutes of Health contract to evaluate novel malaria vaccines and is the co-principal investigator for a contract to evaluate vaccines and antimicrobials in adults and pediatric subjects. She has served as the Principal Investigator for numerous clinical trials evaluating the safety and immunogenicity novel live attenuated dengue vaccine candidates.  These trials have led to the identification of a live attenuated tetravalent dengue vaccine that is currently being evaluated in in flavivirus-naïve and flavivirus-experienced volunteers in Brazil and Thailand and will soon begin Phase 3 efficacy trials in Brazil.  She has, in collaboration with NIH scientists, developed a dengue human challenge model to down-select candidate dengue vaccines prior to the initiation of large-scale efficacy trials in endemic areas. 

Dr. Marcos A. Espinal is currently the Director of the Department of Communicable Diseases and Health Analysis at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO). Dr Espinal’s portfolio includes five major areas: neglected, tropical & vector-borne diseases; risk and outbreak communication; HIV, Hepatitis, TB & STIs; health information & analysis; and veterinary public health. 

Dr. Espinal’s work experience includes positions in the Ministry of Health of the Dominican Republic and the National Center for Research on Maternal and Child Health; the New York City Public Health Department; and the WHO. Before joining PAHO, Dr Espinal served as Executive Secretary of the WHO Stop TB Partnership, a global movement aiming at the elimination of TB as a public health problem.  


COL Stephen J. Thomas, MD earned his Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Biomedical Ethics from Brown University and his Medical Degree from the Albany Medical College. Dr. Thomas is an internationally recognized vaccinologist spending more than 5 years of his early career living and working in Southeast Asia exploring the epidemiology, pathophysiology, and immunology of dengue, Japanese encephalitis, and other infectious diseases.  He has published more than 60 manuscripts, 7 book chapters, and delivered dozens of lectures at international scientific meetings on flavivirus vaccine development. COL Thomas sits on scientific advisory committees and boards for the Department of Defense, the U.S. National Institutes of Health, non-governmental organizations, and numerous pharmaceutical companies working on flavivirus vaccine development efforts. He is a member of the World Health Organization Dengue Vaccine Working Group advising the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on immunizations.  

Dr. Albert Icksang Ko is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases at Yale School of Public Health and Collaborating Researcher at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazilian Ministry of Health. He has been coordinating a research and training program on urban slum health in the city of Salvador, Brazil for the past 20 years and his team has been investigating the outbreak of Zika virus and microcephaly. 

Jeanne Sheffield, MD is an internationally recognized expert in sexually transmitted disease in pregnancy, a member of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and a member of the board of directors of the Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine. She is also an editor of Williams’ Obstetrics, a reviewer for numerous organizations and journals, and an adviser to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Dr. Stephen Whitehead is currently a Senior Associate Scientist in the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases at NIH in Bethesda, MD. Stephen has spent the 15 years focused on the development and evaluation of live vaccine candidates for dengue virus. Over the course of the project he has developed various live attenuated vaccine candidates, with a lead tetravalent candidate currently undergoing Phase III clinical evaluation in humans.  He is an inventor on numerous patents and the dengue virus vaccine technology has been licensed around the world to companies interested in controlling dengue disease.  He currently supervises the pre-clinical development of vaccines for Zika and Japanese encephalitis virus.

Tom Quinn MD, MSc is Associate Director for International Research for the Division of Intramural Research at NIAID and Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health. He is Professor of Medicine and Pathology in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Professor of International Health, Epidemiology, and Immunology and Molecular Microbiology in The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. His research interests have involved laboratory and field investigations on the biological factors involved in sexual and perinatal transmission of HIV. He is Chair of the Board on Global Health at the National Academy of Medicine and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 

Questions? Contact Emily Combs, ecombs@jhu.edu 


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