Robert Breiman, MD

Biography

Dr. Breiman serves as the mentor for Dr. Jessica Shanta.  Robert is Director of the Emory Global Health Institute and holds faculty appointments in the Hubert Department of Global Health at the Rollins School of Public Health and in the Infectious Disease Department of the Emory University School of Medicine.

His training has been in internal medicine and infectious diseases (adult)-- Robert gained experience in epidemiology through CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service and subsequent career at CDC.  While his initial endeavors as an infectious disease fellow were on the molecular immunology of Legionella, for most of his career he has worked on field studies to characterize the epidemiology of a wide array of syndromes and pathogens in a variety of settings.  At CDC, his initial focus was on acute bacterial pneumonia, principally pneumococcal and Legionnaires’ disease, and this has expanded to other respiratory pathogens, especially influenza.   During his work in Bangladesh and in Kenya, he focused on surveillance and field studies in urban and rural areas and expanded his areas of emphasis to include diarrheal and enteric diseases (with particular emphasis on typhoid fever and rotavirus), and was the WHO team lead investigating SARS in China (in early 2003) and multiple outbreaks of Nipah encephalitis.  As the Director of the newly formed International Emerging Infections Program in Kenya, he led the establishment of population-based infectious disease surveillance sites in Kibera (an urban informal settlement in Nairobi and in Asembo in rural western Kenya).  Working with their laboratory head and with colleagues at KEMRI and CDC, they established a sophisticated laboratory (which included a small BL3 facility) for microbiology (especially stool and blood culture), molecular and immunologic testing.  This lab supported the field studies and also was crucial for detecting epidemics, including Rift Valley Fever, Chikungunya, influenza, brucellosis, among others. Working with epidemiologists, laboratory experts, and public health staff and trainees in Kenya, he led investigations into these outbreaks, and helped to design and implement interventions to control and prevent them.  He is currently leading a multi-country surveillance study called CHAMPS, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to define leading causes of death in children under-five years old, and is the Principle Investigator (in collaboration with the Sanger Institute and with CDC) on a BMGF-funded study to evaluate global evolution of the genetics of pneumococci after introduction of pneumococcal vaccine with DNA from pneumococcal isolates from >20 countries globally, the Principle Investigator of a Gavi-funded study to evaluate the impact of the rotavirus immunization program in Kenya, and the Principle Investigator of a BMGF-funded program to oversee multi-center surveillance to assess the burden of typhoid fever in Africa and south Asia.