SPARC Team

Johns Hopkins

Dr. Clare Rock is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkin University and is also an Associate Hospital Epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She is also core faculty at Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality. Dr. Rock is currently the Principal Investigator of the Johns Hopkins CDC Preventions Epicenter grant, which uses innovative approaches to improve appropriateness of C. difficile testing. Her research focuses on reducing pathogen transmission in the healthcare setting. In addition to being the Vice Chair of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) Research Network, she serves on the SHEA Research Committee and is the Research Director for the High Value Practice Academic Alliance. Dr. Rock and Dr. Leekha co-lead the SPARC academic partner teams.

Dr. Sara Cosgrove is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Disease at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and has a joint appointment in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She serves as the Director of the Department of Antimicrobial Stewardship and the Associate Hospital Epidemiologist at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Cosgrove’s research interests include the epidemiology and outcomes of antimicrobial resistance, the development of tools and programs to promote the rational use of antimicrobials, the prevention of hospital-acquired infections and the epidemiology and management of S. aureus bacteremia. Her recent research focuses on strategies for implementation of antimicrobial stewardship activities across all healthcare settings via a large project funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. She is a voting member of the Presidential Advisory

Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria.

Dr. Kate Dzintars is a clinical pharmacy specialist in Infectious Diseases and Antimicrobial Stewardship at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. She was a member of the CDAT (C. difficile Action Team) that involved case-specific teaching points and face-to-face feedback to optimize management of C. difficile infections and looks forward to using this information to assist in developing the principles set forth by the SPARC initiative.

Dr. Valeria Fabre is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is also an Associate Medical Director of the Adult Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Her research interests include the development of strategies to promote optimal antibiotic use, the integration of nurses in antimicrobial stewardship activities, and diagnostic stewardship. She is a member of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). She completed her residency in Internal Medicine at Brown University’s Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island and completed a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Bio coming soon

Dr. Sara Keller is an Assistant Professor in infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her research focuses on outpatient use of antimicrobial therapy and of outpatient central venous catheters. She also focuses on improving antibiotic stewardship in ambulatory settings and improving transitions in care among patients discharged on antibiotic therapy. In addition, Keller teaches others about quality improvement and implementation science.

Dr. Lisa Maragakis is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She serves as Senior Director for Healthcare Epidemiology and Infection Control of the Johns Hopkins Health System and is the Hospital Epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Maragakis’ research focuses on the prevention of healthcare-associated infections (HAI). She is a co-investigator in the Johns Hopkins Prevention Epicenter funded by the CDC Epicenters Program. She currently serves on the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of American (SHEA) Public Policy and Governmental Affairs Committee and as a member of the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) to the CDC. She served as Co-Chair of the 2014 update of the SHEA-IDSA Compendium of Strategies to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections. She received her medical degree and completed her post-doctoral training in Infectious Diseases at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and earned her MPH from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Dr. Aaron Milstone is an Associate Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is also an Associate Hospital Epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Pediatric Lead for Infection Prevention for the Johns Hopkins Health System. He serves on multiple national committees and writing groups guiding practices to prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and emergence of antibiotic resistance. For more than 10 years, he has worked to advance the science of infection control through studies of the prevalence and transmission of multidrug-resistant organisms (MDRO) and interventions to reduce MDRO spread and prevent HAIs. He is on the Board of Trustees of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), an organization that advocates for the advancement of science in infection control in a changing healthcare environment.

Verna Scheeler currently works as a Research Manager in the Department of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. She has been involved with healthcare research management for over 25 years. Her experiences include clinical research in patient care as well as healthcare systems improvement studies. She has managed CDC, NCI, NIH, USAID, and WHO trials domestically and internationally.

Polly Trexler is the Director of Operations for Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and is the Director of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control for the Johns Hopkins Health System. She has over 25 years of experience in infection prevention and has worked in both community and academic settings. She is a past board member of the local Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) chapter and served on the national SHEA Guidelines Committee. She has taught infection prevention in the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and internationally. She has led numerous investigations related to outbreaks and clusters in hospital and ambulatory settings. Her research interests include hand hygiene and the role of the environment in infection transmission. She holds a Master’s degree in Microbiology and is Certified in Infection Control.

Maryland Department of Health

Dr. Richard Brooks is a Medical Officer for CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, stationed at the Maryland Department of Health. There, he serves as the Chief of the Office of Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection Response. Prior to this, he completed two years of field epidemiology training with CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service at the Maryland Department of Health. He completed his internship and residency in Internal Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and worked as a hospitalist there and at the George Washington University Hospital for several years afterwards. He holds an MPH from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Rebecca (Becky) Perlmutter is the Healthcare Associated Infections Coordinator for the state of Maryland at the Maryland Department of Health. She led Maryland’s Emerging Infections Program’s C. difficile surveillance for 7 years and has worked with sepsis surveillance, Ebola response, healthcare-associated infections (HAI) prevalence surveys, outbreak investigations, and, most recently, the Statewide Prevention and Reduction of C. difficile (SPARC) Collaborative. Becky earned her MPH from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and is certified in infection control.

Dr. David Blythe is a medical epidemiologist at the Maryland Department of Health (MDH). He is the Maryland State Epidemiologist and Director of the MDH Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Outbreak Response Bureau where he works on infectious disease surveillance, case and outbreak investigations, and a range of other infectious disease-related projects. He also serves as the Principal Investigator for the Maryland Emerging Infection Program. He is excited to be able to participate in SPARC.

Brittany Grace is an epidemiologist at the Maryland Department of Health in the Division of Infection Prevention within the Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Outbreak Response Bureau. She works alongside Peggy Pass to assess long-term care facilities on their infection control practices. The results from these assessments are used to develop webinars that are presented to long-term care facilities to educate infection preventionist on better infection control practices.

Heather Saunders currently works as a Nurse Coordinator at the Maryland Department of Health where she focuses on engaging frontline staff in infection prevention. She worked as an Infection Control Epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and has six years of experience as an emergency department nurse. Her experience in infection prevention also includes a short-term assignment in Nairobi, Kenya, where she focused on improving the understanding and prevention of infectious diseases.

University of Maryland

Surbhi Leekha MBBS, MPH, is an Infectious Diseases physician and Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University of Maryland School of Medicine. She is the Medical Director for Infection Prevention and Hospital Epidemiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Most of her professional effort is devoted to prevention of healthcare associated infections, with focus on surveillance methodology, implementation techniques, and infectious disease diagnostic stewardship.

Dr. Jacqueline Bork is an Infectious Diseases physician at the University of Maryland Medical Center, where she also serves as Associate Director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program. She is also the Director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at the VA Maryland Health Care System. Her interests include implementing and assessing innovative interventions, such as rapid diagnostics and prescriber feedback and education, to improve antibiotic prescription in healthcare. Improving patient-related outcomes, such as C. difficile infections, is the main objective of her work.

Dr. Kimberly Claeys is an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and specializes in infectious diseases. She also holds a clinical appointment as an Antimicrobial Stewardship Pharmacist at the University of Maryland Medical Center. She completed a two-year Infectious Diseases Pharmacotherapy and Health Outcomes Fellowship at Wayne State University. She is currently earning a PhD in Epidemiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Throughout her doctoral studies, her research has focused on infectious diseases diagnostic stewardship, including in C. difficile infection.

Dr. Anthony Harris is an infectious disease physician and epidemiologist whose research interests include emerging pathogens, antimicrobial-resistant bacteria, hospital epidemiology/infection control, epidemiologic methods in infectious diseases, and medical informatics. He has published over 160 papers. He has received funding from the NIH, CDC and AHRQ to study antibiotic resistance and hospital epidemiology. Dr. Harris served as the President of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) in 2015. He completed his medical training at the McGill University Faculty of Medicine.

Emily Heil is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. She also serves as the Pharmacy Director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at the University of Maryland Medical Center. She is currently serving as the Secretary/Treasurer of the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists. Her research interests include antibiotic allergies, antimicrobial stewardship, and the individualization of antimicrobial dosing, particularly in critically ill patients. She has collaborated with many SPARC team members on C. difficile reduction initiatives both at her home institution as well as other hospitals across the state. She earned her PharmD at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and subsequently completed her pharmacy practice and infectious diseases pharmacy residency training at the University of North Carolina Hospitals.

Dr. Daniel Morgan is a physician and epidemiologist in Baltimore, Maryland. He is Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Chief Hospital Epidemiologist at the Baltimore VAMC, and a fellow at the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics, and Policy (CDDEP). His research explores infection prevention and medical overuse. This includes pragmatic issues related to the control of infectious diseases in the hospital and patient safety, including the best use of patient isolation and methods to test for C. difficile. He was a founding member and past Director of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) Research Network and served on the Board of Directors of SHEA. On a NIH New Innovator award for “exceptional scientists pursing highly innovative approaches to major challenges,” he is exploring ways to improve probabilistic interpretation of tests and treatment decisions. His work is funded through the US NIH, CDC, and AHRQ.

Gwen Robinson currently works as a Research Specialist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine where she manages studies focusing on hand hygiene and transmission of antibiotic resistant bacteria. She has a background in microbiology and worked for several years in a research microbiology laboratory. Gwen earned an MPH with a concentration in Epidemiology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

NORC at the University of Chicago

Dr. Prashila Dullabh, MD is a Senior Fellow at NORC at the University of the Chicago. She is the co-Investigator of the AHRQ Safety Program for Improving Antibiotic Use study. Dullabh is a clinician with more than 15 years of experience in healthcare and health services research. Dullabh has led several technical assistance, evaluation, and strategic projects for federal agencies and foundations. Recently her work has focused on patient safety interventions in ambulatory and inpatient care related to community-acquired pneumonia, opioid prescribing, and hospital-acquired conditions. Dullabh has also been extensively involved with projects focused on patient-centered outcomes research. She has directed projects for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), assessing research for implementation in clinical settings to improve health systems. She recently completed a PCORI systematic review of antibiotic stewardship interventions for acute care.

Gillian Lawrence, MPH, is a senior research director in NORC's Health Sciences Department. Lawrence has more than 15 years of experience in public health and healthcare research, with expertise program management, multi-mode and web data collection, and information visualization. Lawrence currently leads implementation of AHRQ’s Safety Program for Improving Antibiotic Use in partnership with Johns Hopkins University Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality. Lawrence also currently leads several survey projects including the Longitudinal Online Survey of E-cigarette and Dual Users: Testing Population-Level Predictions in collaboration with researchers from Johns Hopkins University and Virginia Commonwealth University, and the Statewide Health Information Network for New York (SHIN-NY) survey of clinical data exchange users on behalf of the New York e-Health Collaborative (NYeC).