Physicians’ Professional Advisory Committee ppac

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Physicians’ Professional

Advisory Committee


In this “Welcome!” from the PPAC Leadership Team:

  • Well wishes

  • Introduction of the leadership team

  • Introduction of the 2015 voting members

  • Why the radio silence?

  • When will the meeting be held?

  • How do I record my attendance?

  • The PPAC calls “Buddy System”

  • PPAC Committees – now’s the time to get involved!

  • FTGOTW: Job posting

  • Closing words

Fellow officers,

Allow me to open this communiqué from the Chair by extending my warmest wishes for a safe, healthy and productive year to you and your loved ones.

Introduction of the leadership team

I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to CAPT Milton Irizarry, for service as our immediate past chair, and CDR Frances Jensen immediate past executive secretary, for their leadership and direction. At the same time, I would like to introduce to you our leadership team, as well as the current voting members.

My name is CAPT Ezra Barzilay, and exactly three weeks ago I had the honor of accepting the duties of chairing our PAC. I have been involved with the PPAC for several years, was appointed as a voting member in 2012 and most recently served as the PPAC Vice-Chair for CAPT Milton Irizarry in 2014. I am pediatrician by training, and have worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since joining the Epidemic Intelligence Service in 2004. I am passionate about global health, health systems recovery and strengthening, and, well…numbers. I will admit I am a geek at heart!
For the last several years, I have been involved with the Mentorship & Career Development subcommittee of our PAC, which I have co-chaired with CDR Christine Olson for the last couple of years. I am a strong believer in the power of mentorship to help junior officers grow and to help other realize their potential both administratively (i.e. at promotion time) and professionally. Although I will likely have to take a less active role in the subcommittee this year, (opportunity to get involved, straight ahead!) rest assured that mentorship will be central to my agenda as chair for this year.

CAPT Dana Thomas is our new vice chair, and at the time of the writing of this note, is still in Sierra Leone supporting the Ebola response. I will let Dana introduce herself properly when she returns from deployment. Trained in Aerospace, Occupational & Environmental Medicine, and with a wealth of prior experience, CAPT Thomas has been involved with the PAC for many years, serving her 2nd term as a voting member and having co-chaired the Voting Membership SC as well as the Category Day SC for most of the time that she has served on our PAC. It’s a pleasure and an honor to have Dana as my vice-chair this year.

LCDR JP Ahluwalia is the new Executive Secretary of the PPAC, assigned to the US Coast Guard's Personnel Service Center, in the greater Washington, DC, area. He is residency-trained in preventive medicine and occupational medicine, and his current duties include physical disability evaluation boards and aviation medicine oversight. Dana and I asked LCDR Ahluwalia to support the leadership team as an Assistant Executive Secretary, which he was very eager to do. LCDR Ahluwalia previously served for 8 years in the US Army during which time he was deployed to Afghanistan for an extended period of time, but also completed shorter deployments to countries in Central Asia and East Africa. He is optimistic that 2015 will be an even higher-visibility year for the Corps than the previous year.

LCDR Kenneth Luna is an Internist and Flight Surgeon with the USCG in North Bend, Oregon. He joined the USPHS in July of 2013 after 10 years in the USN. Dana and I asked LCDR Luna to support the leadership team as an Assistant Executive Secretary, which he was very eager to do. LCDR Luna truly believes that if he can make the people above him shine as well as the people below him shine, then every day is a going to be a bright sunny day!

Introduction of the 2015 voting members

This is the list of the 2015 voting members and their contact information. Through their willingness to participate in the PAC’s activities, their appointment by the SG to serve a three-year term and their commitment to the subcommittees they’re involved with, each of the PPAC voting members is a service leader. I would encourage that you reach out to them if you want to learn more about their involvement with the PPAC, the subcommittees they’re leading or involved in, or their professional engagement with the USPHS.

Through 2015

Brewinski-Isaacs, Margaret



Pediatrics, Preventive Medicine

Cohen, Sylvie



Pediatrics, Occupational & Environmental Medicine

Iskander, John




Luckhaupt, Sara



Internal Medicine, Preventive Medicine

Osborn, Mark



Family Medicine

Su, John



Clinical Pathology

Through 2016

Alicea, Edgardo



Family Medicine

Idowu, Rachel




Olson, Christine




Taylor, Gerald



Occupational Medicine, Preventive Medicine

Terranella, Andrew




Thomas, Dana



Aerospace, Occupational & Environmental Medicine

Thompson, Elizabeth (Betsy)



Internal Medicine

Through 2017

Ahluwalia, Jaspal



Preventive and Occupational Medicine

Bishop, Rachel




Hu, Dale



Preventive Medicine

Magill, Shelly



Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases

Piercefield, Emily



Emergency and Preventive Medicine

Propst, Tobe



Family Medicine

Wrobleski, Tanya



Internal Medicine and Hematology/Oncology

Why the radio silence?

You may be wondering at this point “How come I have not yet heard from my PAC Chair? It’s mid-January already!” I'm afraid the answer is very simple – Dana and I have both been involved with the Ebola response in West Africa since before the holidays; I came back over Memorial Day weekend, and Dana is expected back this week. Obviously we both recognize the importance of our PAC responsibilities, but this was an extenuating circumstance and we're only now finally able to conduct the necessary transition meetings from the previous leadership team.

What does it mean for the PAC schedule? It means that this year, we’ll shift our business meetings to even months (with their first PAC call in February) and for meetings to odd months, starting in March. We feel that this way, the new leadership team coming in on a given year, will have sufficient time to transition and take the reins of the chair, vice chair, and executive secretary positions.

When will the meetings be held?

There is much discussion over the last few years about the selection of PPAC meeting times and dates, as we are all busy professionals with wildly different schedules and commitments. Obviously, advance notice is helpful to all, in trying to reserve time to attend the PPAC calls; this year we thought that a rotating Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday schedule may permit those that have fixed commitments on any one day of the week to attend at least some of the calls. As such, our monthly meetings will be on:

  • Tuesday, February 17, 2015 (Business call, VM attendance required)

  • Wednesday, March 18, 2015 (PAC Forum, attendance recommended)

  • Thursday April 16, 2015 (Business call, VM attendance required)

  • Tuesday, May 12, 2015 (PAC Forum, attendance recommended)

  • Wednesday, June 17, 2015 (Business call, VM attendance required)

  • Thursday, July 16, 2015 (PAC Forum, attendance recommended)

  • Tuesday, August 15, 2015 (Business call, VM attendance required)

  • Wednesday, September 16, 2015 (PAC Forum, attendance recommended)

  • Thursday, October 15, 2015 (Business call, VM attendance required)

  • Tuesday, November 17, 2015 (PAC Forum, attendance recommended)

  • Wednesday, December 16, 2015 (Business call, VM attendance required)


How do I record my attendance?

Attendance is only recorded during the 6 Business Meetings. Voting member attendance will be verified during roll call at the beginning of each of the business calls. For those who are not voting members but would like to record their attendance, please email to record your attendance. Voting members who know that they will not be able to attend a call (excused absences) should try and designate a proxy to offer any updates and should also email to let us know of the planned absence.

The PPAC calls “Buddy system”

Do you know someone who does not receive updates from PHS Commissioned Corps Medical Officers COMMCORPS_MEDOFFCRS@LIST.NIH.GOV? If so, please let one of us (Dana, Kenneth, JP or myself) know and we will make sure that they are added to the distribution list. In fact, take the time now to check in with 2 or 3 of you fellow medical officers, and see if they are on the list, and ask them to do the same.

Committees – now’s the time to get involved!

The PPAC has several Subcommittees that would most welcome your participation! Some subcommittees may be looking for PAC members to assume leadership roles (i.e. co-chairing) – it’s a great way to jump into the PAC’s operations with both feet in and to showcase your level of officership. I will be sending out a list of contacts for each SC as well as their needs in advance of our first call.

FTGOTW (For The Good Of The Whole): Job posting

Polar Medical Officer, Division of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation. (Job description attached).

Closing words

I am both honored to be this year’s chair and ready to tackle the issues that the PAC undertakes, head on. I will outline my vision for this year’s agenda to you during our first call, but in the meantime let me close this welcome by saying this: as those who have worked with me know, I am committed to communication and transparency and so is Dana. Reach out to us, share with us your thoughts, and let us know what issues are important to you. Utilize us as your communication conduit and trust us to be our category’s voice to the upper leadership of the Corps. We are in close communication with our CPO, CAPT David Goldman, as well as with the other PACs through the PAC Chairs’ Group.

At your service,

Ezra Barzilay, Chair

Dana Thomas, Vice-chair
Captains, USPHS
2015 Physician’s Professional Advisory Committee

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