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Working together to Fight Infectious Diseases

Time is flying. It has been six weeks since my arrival in Beijing as a Pfizer Global Health Fellow. I am working with US Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Beijing Office for four months. In this program, I work along with US and China CDC colleagues evaluating the nature of newly emerging infectious diseases, studying how contagious they are and what the diseases transmission paths are. In the end, we want to understand what we can do to prevent further outbreak.

As many of you know from the media that there was a new bird flu virus H7N9 outbreak in China that started in March 2013. So far there are 123 confirmed cases and 23 deaths.  An important role of US CDC Beijing office is to provide consultation and technique assistance (as needed) to China CDC to monitor and contain new flu viruses. Pandemics of SARS in 2003 and H1N1 bird flu virus in 2009 taught us all how important the global corporations are to fight and prevent global outbreak of a new infections disease.  Those lessons have prepared Chinese government for this new virus outbreak. China CDC, US CDC, and World Health Organization (WHO) are working closely monitoring the situation.  Information seems to be more readily available to public this time, and the public is handling the H7N9 virus pretty well. There is no public panic at all this time. The group I am working with is called International Emerging Infections Program (IEIP). This group is proactively looking for new infectious diseases which may become new threat to public health. What they do is working with China CDC to perform observational studies to identify disease burdens (prevalence) and risk factors for targeted diseases. The diseases in study include Pneumonia, Tuberculosis, and food-borne infections from seafood.  My main role is to provide consultation in data management, data cleaning, and statistical analyses. There are no statisticians in the office. I feel I am well welcome. Hope my stay could make meaningful contribution to the team. Since I was born and raised in China, there is no language obstacle for me in Beijing. Bilingual in Chinese and English helps me greatly to my work. However culture differences in work place exist, it takes me a while to get use to it. From this fellowship program, beside the CDC assignment, I am also interested in exploring the differences of clinical practice / operation between US and China. By knowing the differences, I hope to gain better understanding of the potential impact to Pfizer’s global clinical trial.

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