FIU Zika experts list

For questions or assistance in contacting any of the following experts, please call the Office of Media Relations:

Health care
Aileen M. Marty, M.D. 
Professor, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine
Director of the FIU Health Travel Medicine Program and Vaccine Clinic 
Dr. Marty is a world renowned expert in infectious diseases who sits on the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistance Bacteria. As a member of the Medical Reserve Corps she recently led a team from the Florida Department of Health on Zika surveillance efforts in Wynwood. She has worked with and for the World Health Organization for nearly a decade –notably in the fight against the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Dr. Marty trained as a naval flight surgeon and traveled around the world while serving in the U.S. Navy for 25 years specializing in tropical medicine, infectious disease pathology, disaster medicine, and weapons of mass destruction.
Please contact Ileana Varela to speak with Dr. Marty.

Dorothy Contiguglia-Akcan, M.D., M.P.H.
Assistant Professor, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine
Primary Care & Travel Medicine Specialist, FIU Health
Dr. Contiguglia-Akcan is a Family Practice physician who specializes in Travel Medicine at FIU Health, the College of Medicine’s faculty group practice. Dr. Contiguglia-Akcan obtained her M.D., Master’s in Public Health, and M.S. in Pharmacology at Tulane University. She is certified in Travel Medicine by the International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM).  She can discuss issues pertaining to prevention, screening, and management of Zika virus infection in the general and traveling populations.
Please contact Ileana Varela to speak with Dr. Contiguglia-Akcan.

Carlos Arturo Espinal Tejada, M.D.
Director, FIU Global Health Consortium
Dr. Espinal Tejada is a renowned expert on tropical and emerging diseases. He has served as the president of the Colombian Association of Tropical Diseases, is a member of the Colombian Association of Immunology and Allergies, Latin American Association of Travel Medicine, American Society of Tropical Medicine, International Society of Infectious Diseases, and a coordinator at the Travel Medicine, Latin American Society of Pediatric Infectious Diseases.  Espinal has worked  as the Director of Public Health, Immunization Policy and Advocacy in Latin America at Sanofi Pasteur where he worked along the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to help increase use of specific vaccines in Latin America and improve the surveillance systems on dengue and other infectious and tropical diseases. He was the PAHO Malaria Adviser on Malaria chemotherapy, drug resistance and epidemiology, and worked as an adviser on the Malaria Sporozoite Vaccine Development Program at the Navy Research Center. He can discuss vaccine development and public health organizations response to Zika’s spread. He is available for interviews in Spanish and English.
Cell: 703-203-5862

Juan M. Acuña, M.D.
Associate Professor, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine
Dr. Acuña, has  served as Director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) National Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology Program. A native of Colombia, Dr. Acuña received his M.D. from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Medical School, Bogota Colombia. His clinical training (Obstetrics and Gynecology) was at Universidad Militar Nueva Granda (Bogota). This was followed by further training in the U.S. in Clinical Genetics (Mount Sinai Medical Center, University of Wisconsin), Fetal Medicine (Fetal Medicine Foundation, UK), Clinical Epidemiology (INCLEN, UJ), and Field Epidemiology (Epidemic Intelligence Service program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta). He  has extensive experience in (high risk) obstetrics and gynecology, clinical genetics, and clinical and public health/epidemiology at the level of both teaching and practice.  He then served as the CDC assignee in Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology to the Louisiana Office of Public Health (2000-2005) and was on faculty at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine from 2005-2008. Dr. Acuña can talk about fetal development and pregnancy.
Office: 305-348-0676

Consuelo Beck-Sagué, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work 
Dr. Consuelo Beck-Sagué is a pediatric infectious disease subspecialist. During her 19 years as an epidemic investigator and medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, she led dozens of investigations and studies. Since she left the CDC, she helped lead the antiretroviral therapy (ART) scale-up for prevention and treatment of pediatric HIV in the Dominican Republic as a consultant to the ministry of health. She has authored or co-authored over 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals and national and international guidelines and reports that have been cited thousands of times. She is bilingual and available for both Spanish and English media interviews. Dr. Beck-Sague can discuss viral risks for pregnant women and unborn babies.
Office: 305-348-7789

Public Health
Juan Pablo Sarmiento
Director of the Disaster Risk Reduction
Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs
Juan Pablo Sarmiento’s professional and research experience spans 33 years and includes working in Colombia for the Civil Defense, Central Military Hospital, Ministry of Health, Colombian Red Cross, and Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Additionally, he worked as a consultant for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO); he was member of United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) teams, and, for 10 years worked as the technical manager of the regional risk management program that the International Resources Group (IRG) implemented in Latin American and the Caribbean for the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA). Sarmiento can discuss agency responses to Zika.
Office: 305-348-0346

Matthew DeGennaro
Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences

College of Arts, Sciences & Education
Biomolecular Sciences Institute
A neurogeneticist with 20 years of experience in biomedical research, DeGennaro uses molecular genetics to address biological questions. He is known for creating the first mutant mosquito. He uses his genetic approach to study mosquito behavior. His work in the Vosshall lab at The Rockefeller University revealed how human hosts are chosen and how mosquitos are repelled by DEET. Today, he runs the Laboratory of Mosquito Genetics and Behavior at FIU. Despite the danger that mosquito host-seeking behavior poses to human health, little progress has been made in understanding its genetic basis. Understanding the odors that attract mosquitoes and the receptors required to sense these odors will allow for new approaches to manipulate mosquito behavior. He is available to discuss mosquitos, their behavior and current scientific approaches to mitigate mosquito-borne illnesses.
Office: 305 348-1358

Francisco Fernandez-Lima
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
College of Arts, Sciences & Education
Biomolecular Sciences Institute
Fernandez-Lima’s research focuses on the development of new-generation instrumentation and methodologies for biomedical and behavioral research. Research projects involve multiple disciplines, including medicine, chemistry, and biology (including collaborations with FIU researchers studying mosquitos). His laboratory focuses on the developments of new diagnosis tools, as well as the evaluation of long term therapeutic effects. Fernandez-Lima is available to discuss the science behind medical diagnosis and development of new therapeutics and speaks Spanish and Portuguese.
Office: 305-348-2037

Mario H. Perez
Visiting Lecturer, Department of Biological Sciences
College of Arts, Sciences & Education
Mario H. Perez is an vector biologist with research interests in the physiology and ecology of disease vectors, including Aedes aegypti, the mosquito responsible for transmitting the Zika virus and their evolutionary responses to human-made changes to the environment including urbanization and pollution. He can address the environmental and physiological challenges of Aedes aegypti. Perez is a visiting lecturer in the FIU Department of Biological Sciences and teaches undergraduate courses in ecology, biology, urban vector ecology, genetics, and cellular biology. He has a Ph.D. in Biology from FIU.
Office: 305-348-4493

Hospitality & Tourism
Carolin Lusby
Assistant Professor, Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management
Carolin Lusby teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in tourism, research methods and leadership. Prior to beginning her career in academia, Lusby worked in the tourism industry. She was a youth travel guide for Europe’s biggest teen travel company, worked for a teen adventure travel company and developed skills and training in adventure and experience based learning, among others. Ultimately, she became a PADI Master Scuba Diver trainer and a Ropes Course facilitator.She has a doctoral degree in tourism recreation and sport management from the University of Florida. Lusby also holds a master’s degree in tourism and the environments from the World Leisure Center of Excellence at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Lusby can discuss how the Zika virus will affect the tourism industry, in particular Brazil, which is hosting the Rio Olympics in Summer 2016.
Cell: 352-870-4090

International Relations
Frank Mora
Director, Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center
Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs
Frank Mora is the director of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center. Prior to coming to FIU, Mora served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere. During the last twenty years Mora worked as a consultant to the Library of Congress, U.S. Department of the Air Force, Department of the Army, the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), the National Democratic Institute, U.S. State Department, the Organization of American States, and U.S. Southern Command. Mora is the author or editor of five books and numerous academic and policy articles, book chapters, and monographs on hemispheric security, U.S.-Latin American relations, civil-military relations, Cuban politics and military, and Latin American foreign policy. He is a recipient of the Outstanding Public Service Award, Department of Defense (2011). He can discuss how Zika may impact relationships between countries. Mora has a Ph. D. in international relations from the University of Miami. He speaks Spanish.
Cell: 305-348-2894

Brian Van Hook
Associate Director, Florida Small Business Development Center at FIU
Brian Van Hook is Associate Director of SBDC at FIU. Prior to joining Florida International University, Brian was Policy Director of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, where he oversaw research and legislative activities. Previously, he served as legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, advising her on issues related to disaster recovery, economic development, and international trade. A native of Louisiana, Brian has almost nine years of experience with disaster recovery and business continuity. He led efforts in securing millions of dollars in recovery funds and assistance for the Gulf Coast communities and businesses. Brian received his M.S. in International Affairs from Florida State University and his B.A. from Louisiana State University. He is a certified Business Continuity Professional.
Office: 305-779-9228