Epi Prof. Michael Pentella named State Hygienic Lab director

Portrait of University of Iowa Prof. Michael Pentella, professor of epidemiology in the College of Public Health and director of the State Hygienic Laboratory.Michael Pentella, interim director of the State Hygienic Laboratory (SHL) since December, will become permanent director on June 1.

Pentella is a clinical professor of epidemiology in the University of Iowa College of Public Health and former associate director in the SHL. He takes over the position from Chris Atchison, who retired Jan. 5.

Previously, he was director of the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Massachusetts and before that an associate director for the disease control division at SHL, where he was responsible for infectious disease testing and newborn and maternal screening and was actively involved with bioterrorism preparedness, antimicrobial resistance and pandemic influenza planning.

In 2016, Pentella became the seventh recipient of SHL’s William J. Hausler Career Achievement Award, which recognizes a lifetime of achievement and professional activities that extend beyond the laboratory and greatly impact the field of public health.

Pentella chairs the Association of Public Health Laboratories’ Biosafety and Biosecurity Committee as part of his lifelong interest in laboratory biosafety issues. In 2017, he received APHL’s Leadership in Biosafety and Biosecurity Award.  In 2016, he was given an Outstanding Alumni Award from the University of South Florida College of Public Health.

“Mike brings a wealth of experience to the position, and I’m confident he’ll provide capable leadership to this important state and university resource,” said John C. Keller, interim Vice President for Research and Economic Development, to whom SHL reports.

Rema Afifi

portrait of Rema AfifiDr. Afifi engages in public health research and practice with intent to promote social, community, and policy environments conducive to wellbeing. Whenever possible, she uses methods of Community Based Participatory Research; applies an ecological lens to the understanding of the issues; engages multiple disciplines to widen the perspectives on any topic; and emphasizes knowledge transfer of research to practice and policy. She is specifically interested in intervention and implementation science.

Most of Rima’s research and practice has centered on adolescent and youth health and wellbeing; and on the Arab world.  This has infused her research and practice with critical reflections on the impact of global politics, economics, trade; and of war, conflict and contexts of uncertainty; as well as the power of youth agency and voice.  A secondary area of research emphasis has been tobacco control, specifically the global epidemic of hookah use.  Using the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control as a guidance document, her research has explored determinants of use, as well as policy solutions to minimize the morbidity and mortality burden of this alternative tobacco product.

Rema Afifi

Dr. Afifi engages in public health research and practice with intent to promote social, community, and policy environments conducive to wellbeing. Whenever possible, she uses methods of Community Based Participatory Research; applies an ecological lens to the understanding of the issues; engages multiple disciplines to widen the perspectives on any topic; and emphasizes knowledge transfer of research to practice and policy. She is specifically interested in intervention and implementation science.

Most of Rema’s research and practice has centered on adolescent and youth health and wellbeing; and on the Arab world.  This has infused her research and practice with critical reflections on the impact of global politics, economics, trade; and of war, conflict and contexts of uncertainty; as well as the power of youth agency and voice.  A secondary area of research emphasis has been tobacco control, specifically the global epidemic of hookah use.  Using the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control as a guidance document, her research has explored determinants of use, as well as policy solutions to minimize the morbidity and mortality burden of this alternative tobacco product.

Pentella receives Leadership in Biosafety and Biosecurity Award

Michael Pentella, clinical professor of epidemiology at the UI College of Public Health, has received the 2017 Leadership in Biosafety and Biosecurity Award from the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL).

Pentella was previously the associate director for infectious disease at the University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory where he was responsible for bacteriology, virology, serology, parasitology, and mycology and was actively involved with bioterrorism preparedness, antimicrobial resistance and pandemic influenza planning. He was formerly director of the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Massachusetts.

The Leadership in Biosafety and Biosecurity Award honors a laboratorian with over 10 years of related service in the field of biosafety and biosecurity in a state and/or local public health laboratory. According to APHL, honorees are recognized leaders both within their home laboratories and on a national level (by serving in leadership roles on national committees and taskforces, for example).

Honorees are also instrumental in providing technical and public presentations and publications, developing/advocating for best practices in biosafety/biosecurity, Identifying and presenting emerging issues in the field, conducting or promoting research that lead to improvements or advancing policy in the field of biosafety/biosecurity.

Award recipients were honored during a ceremony at the 2017 APHL Annual Meeting & Eleventh Government Environmental Laboratory Conference in Providence, RI.

A full list of this year’s APHL award recipients is available at: http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/public-health-laboratory-leaders-honored-by-aphl-2221672.htm