(Senate - January 05, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 3 (Thursday, January 5, 2017)]
[Page S109]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                        TRIBUTE TO DR. BETH BELL

  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, today I wish to recognize an exceptional 
public servant, Dr. Beth Bell, who is retiring from the directorship of 
the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, 
NCEZID, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC.
  Dr. Bell began her career with the CDC in 1992, in my home State, as 
an epidemic intelligence service, EIS, officer assigned to the 
Washington State Department of Health, where she led a seminal 
investigation into E. coli infections. After completing her EIS 
training, she moved to CDC Atlanta to join the hepatitis branch in the 
division of viral and rickettsial diseases, later serving as chief of 
the epidemiology branch in the division of viral hepatitis. During her 
13 years working on viral hepatitis, she led important efforts to 
better understand the epidemiology of hepatitis A in the United States, 
applying this knowledge to the development and implementation of 
hepatitis A vaccination policy. These extraordinary efforts contributed 
to reductions in national hepatitis A incidence of more than 95 
percent. She also worked on implementation of global infant hepatitis A 
and B vaccination programs during the early days of the Global Alliance 
for Vaccines Initiative. She later served as the acting deputy director 
of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases during 
the H1N1 influenza pandemic before being appointed director of the 
newly formed Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, 
NCEZID, in 2010.
  In that role, Dr. Bell has been at the forefront of the agency's 
critical and complex emergency response efforts. In 2014-2015, Dr. Bell 
was called upon to lead the center through the largest Ebola epidemic 
in history. After reaching a near breaking point where, according to 
CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, it was ``spiraling out of control'' in 
late 2014, the epidemic was contained through the aggressive use of 
proven outbreak-control measures such as patient isolation and contact 
  In 2016, Dr. Bell found herself leading the response to yet another 
pandemic as Zika exploded in South and Central America, Puerto Rico and 
the Caribbean, and Florida. The impact of Zika on women and children 
through microcephaly, a life-threatening condition in which children 
are born with unusually small heads, was heartbreaking and historically 
significant--never before has a mosquito-borne infection caused such 
devastating birth defects. CDC's early alert--under Dr. Bell's 
leadership--to people traveling to countries with Zika likely prevented 
an untold number of infections among women of child-bearing age; and, 
continuing through her very last day of Federal service, Dr. Bell was 
critical in CDC's support for U.S. territories, cities, and States--as 
well as other impacted countries.
  In addition, Dr. Bell oversaw the Center's response to chikungunya 
spreading throughout the Americas in 2013-14, the second-largest 
outbreak of West Nile virus disease in the United States in 2012, and 
hundreds of outbreaks of foodborne disease. Her leadership of the 
Center during each of these outbreaks has been remarkable, and all 
Americans have benefited from her steady hand and commitment to 
service. Dr. Bell also held leadership roles during CDC responses to 
the 2001 anthrax attacks and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Her outstanding 
leadership, scientific judgment, and expertise have been critical to 
the success of the Center in these endeavors.
  In 2012, she was called upon to lead the Center's response to the 
fungal meningitis outbreak associated with contaminated steroid 
products--America's largest healthcare related outbreak ever. The New 
York Times called it ``one of the most shocking outbreaks in the annals 
of American medicine.'' Following her testimony before the Senate HELP 
committee, Dr. Bell was lauded for CDC's prompt and decisive role in 
the response, which likely prevented many hundreds of infections and 
deaths among patients who would otherwise have received injections of 
fungus-contaminated medication.
  She also directed two new cross-cutting infectious disease 
initiatives that have already shown benefits to the field of public 
health: the Advanced Molecular Detection, AMD, and the Antibiotic 
Resistance Solutions Initiatives, Together, these initiatives are 
helping scientists better understand how infections spread and 
transforming our national capacity to detect, respond, contain, and 
prevent drug-resistant infections. Because of Dr. Bell's leadership, 
our Nation will be better equipped to address the growing threat of 
antibiotic resistance, as well as a myriad of other public health 
  Dr. Bell exemplifies steadfastness and courage in protecting the 
Nation's health. She has demonstrated an unwavering level of dedication 
and passion for public health at all levels, recognizing the important 
roles of State, local, county, tribal, and Federal partners.
  Dr. Bell has been a true public servant. I ask that we honor Dr. Bell 
today for her invaluable leadership to the CDC and America's public 
health efforts.