I want to focus on the intersection of infectious disease and the social determinants of health.Rene Najera,
Born and raised in Juarez, Mexico, on the border with Texas, Rene Najera came to the United States at the age of ten. He attended the University of Texas at El Paso, earning a BS in Medical Technology. He was recruited by a small, rural hospital in Pennsylvania where he worked as a medical technologist for seven years. While there, Najera studied part-time at the George Washington University, earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Epidemiology in 2007.
With his MPH, Najera went on to work at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) as an epidemiologist in the Prevention and Health Promotion Administration. His responsibilities included disease surveillance and outbreak response. As an influenza surveillance coordinator for Maryland, Rene introduced novel ways of conducting disease surveillance, including the use of social media and mobile technology. The first-in-the-nation Maryland Resident Influenza Tracking Survey tracks influenza-like illness through a weekly online survey. During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, this novel approach to surveillance provided critical information to improve the public health response to the emergency.
During his six years as an epidemiologist at DHMH’s headquarters in Baltimore, he came to know the city well through his work in outbreak investigations and collaborations with the local health departments. Outside of work, he ran the 2005 Baltimore Marathon and the 2008 half marathon. He also plays pickup soccer--a great way to meet city residents.
Najera graduated from the Department of Epidemiology. He focused his thesis on the intersection of infectious disease and the social determinants of health.