Polio Working Group


Gregory Armstrong, MD

Gregory Armstrong, MDDr. Armstrong is an infectious diseases physician with a background in the epidemiology of viral diseases. Since coming to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1997, he has worked in a variety of areas including viral hepatitis, viral respiratory diseases, and refugee health. He has participated in a number of CDC's responses to major public health threats, such as the 2001 anthrax attacks, SARS, and the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. In January of this year, in response to a global call to accelerate polio eradication, Dr. Armstrong was appointed incident manager to oversee CDC's polio operations as they were moved to its Emergency Operation Center.

Stephen L. Cochi, MD, MPH

Stephen L. Cochi, MD, MPHDr. Cochi is currently (since 2006) the Senior Advisor to the Director, Global Immunization Division (GID) at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He holds a BS from MIT, an MD from Duke University, and an MPH from Emory. He completed residency training in pediatrics at the Massachusetts General Hospital and in preventive medicine at the CDC, and completed the CDC's 2-year Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) training program in 1984. Before joining CDC, he was a pediatrician in the Indian Health Service from 1980-1982 on the Navajo Reservation in Gallup, New Mexico. Dr. Cochi is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Preventive Medicine.

Dr. Cochi has spent 30 years at CDC working in the field of immunization, and from 1985-present has served in various roles in the Center that leads and manages the U.S. immunization program and its international activities. From 1993-2003, he led CDC's global immunization activities as Director of GID, which is a major partner in the global polio eradication initiative, global measles control and mortality reduction initiative, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), and other priority global immunization activities. Dr. Cochi served as Deputy Director of the U.S. National Immunization Program in 2003 and as Acting Director for 2 years during 2004-2005.

Dr. Cochi has authored or co-authored more than 100 scientific journal articles, letters, and book chapters on vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases, and more than 150 CDC publications including MMWR articles. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and a member of the American Public Health Association, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, and American Epidemiological Society.

Benjamin Lopman, PhD, MSc

Benjamin Lopman, PhDDr. Lopman is an infectious disease epidemiologist with the Viral Gastroenteritis Team, Division of Viral Diseases at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Departments of Global Environmental Health and Epidemiology at Emory University. Prior to joining CDC in 2009 he was the head of the Viral Gastroenteritis Epidemiology group at the UK Health Protection Agency and a Senior Lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Dr Lopman earned his PhD in Epidemiology conducting research at the Health Protection Agency, his MSc (Demography) at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and did his post-doc with the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial College London, working on HIV epidemiology in sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr. Lopman's research is directed at understanding the epidemiology and transmission of viral gastroenteritis (mainly norovirus and rotavirus) as well as developing effective methods for their control. He has authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications in addition to invited editorials, book chapters and conference presentations. Currently, Dr. Lopman is working with CDC's Polio Response as an advisor on mathematical modeling studies related to program and policy decisions.

Mark A. Pallansch, PhD

Mark A. Pallansch, PhDDr. Pallansch is Director, Division of Viral Diseases Division of Viral Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. He received his B.S. in Biochemistry (1976) from Virginia Tech and Ph.D. in Biochemistry (1982) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship (1984) in Virology (Persistent Measles Infection) at the Rockefeller University in New York.

Dr. Pallansch joined the CDC in 1984 as Chief of the Enterovirus Section in the Respiratory and Enteric Viruses Branch until becoming Chief, Polio and Picornavirus Laboratory Branch in 2007. Since assuming his current position in March of 2011, he now leads an exceptional group of nearly 200 laboratory and epidemiology scientists, laboratory technicians, data managers and program analysts who are responsible for many aspects of domestic and global viral vaccine preventable diseases, including laboratory support for global efforts at polio eradication and measles elimination, domestic vaccination policy, surveillance and evaluation, reference laboratory testing for respiratory and enteric viral diseases, and research on new viral vaccine development and evaluation. He has also been actively involved in collaborations providing technical expertise and conceptual evaluation of issues for risk assessment and management, including multiple modeling approaches, as well as strategic planning within the polio eradication program.

Dr. Pallansch is the author or co-author of more than 200 publications and book chapters. He has been awarded the Pan American Society for Clinical Virology Ed Nowakowski Senior Memorial Clinical Virology Award (2008) and the Sigma Xi Walter R. Dowdle Award for Achievement in Public Health Science (2008). He has also received numerous awards at the CDC, including the Sheppard Award for Scientific Excellence (1988 and 2012), U.S. Public Health Service Special Recognition Award (1989), CDC Special Service Award (1991), James H. Nakano Citation (1996, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2009), Health and Human Services Group Distinguished Service Award (1999), and Stephen R. Preblud Award (2002, 2006). He currently serves as Chair of the American Society for Virology ATCC Advisory Committee, is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Clinical Virology, and is a member of the Picornavirus Study Group of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.

Steven Wassilak, MD

Steven Wassilak, MDDr. Wassilak is a medical epidemiologist trained in Pediatrics and working with vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases since 1980, when he joined the Epidemic Intelligence Service at CDC. After working in the domestic immunization program of CDC on the epidemiology and control of measles, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, and on vaccine safety, he went to work on a pertussis vaccine field trial in Italy in 1992 as a project officer for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, detailed to the Istituto Superior di Sanita' in Rome. He joined the Polio Eradication Initiative in 1996, assigned on detail from the Global Immunization Division (GID) to the WHO European Regional Office for Europe in Copenhagen, with an emphasis on strengthening surveillance. The Region was certified polio-free in 2002. After he returned to Atlanta in 2004 until early 2007, he spent considerable field time in Nigeria working through the WHO country office, and subsequently was the polio focal point (subject matter expert) in the Disease Eradication and Elimination Branch of GID. He currently is the team lead for Science, Innovation and Research for the Polio Response in the Emergency Operations Center.