The Diagnostic Microbiology Development Program was created in 2008 to establish microbiology laboratories in hospitals and recruit volunteer clinical microbiologists from the USA to train laboratory staff in resource-poor countries.
DMDP is pleased that Pam Smith is the latest of a number of expert microbiologists from abroad who have come to Cambodia to mentor to Cambodian laboratory staff. Pam Smith has a Bachelor of Science majoring in Microbiology from the University of Queensland, Australia. Pam came to work with DMDP in Cambodia in May 2017 bringing over 20 years experience as a laboratory scientist in clinical diagnostic microbiology and parasitology. She has worked in both private and public hospital microbiology laboratories in Queensland, Australia. Pam is a Supervising Scientist at Royal Darwin Hospital, Northern Territory, Australia. While working with DMDP in Cambodia, Pam is concentrating her efforts as a mentor at the National Institute of Public Health Microbiology Laboratory in Phnom Penh.
DMDP is proud to announce that Oeng Sopheap, DMDP Deputy Scientific Officer and Chief Mentor, has been appointed as the American Society for Microbiology Young Ambassador for Cambodia. ASM Young Ambassadors are dynamic young leaders, who represent ASM in their home country, facilitating networking, professional development, and collaboration to strengthen science globally. ASM Young Ambassadors mobilize the next generation of scientists to develop innovative approaches to meet the Grand Challenges in Science. As a Young Ambassador, Sopheap will be expected to promote networking locally and globally, leverage ASM resources to meet the needs of young Cambodian microbiologists, help advance the careers and science of young microbiologists, raise awareness of ASM membership and advance ASM’s mission of knowledge sharing for the advancement of science. Sopheap will attend Microbe 2018, the Annual General Meeting of Microbiology in Atlanta, Georgia in June 2018 where he will meet with other Young Ambassadors, attend scientific sessions and present at a poster session.
We are pleased to announce that Joanne Letchford, BS, MPH, Diagnostic Microbiology Program (DMDP) Country Director, is this year’s recipient of the University of Sydney Faculty of Science Alumni Award for Service to Humanity. This award recognizes the personal contributions of alumni who, through service or philanthropy, improve the lives of those in need. This award also recognizes the significant involvement of alumni in projects that enrich local or international communities through activities such as volunteering, philanthropy and service to the community. Ms. Letchford came to Cambodia in 2009 as a Volunteer with Volunteers for International Development from Australia (ViDA). DMDP had just finished implementing a laboratory in Kampong Cham, the first of several diagnostic microbiology laboratories in Cambodian government hospitals. Ms. Letchford arrived and provided essential bench training to the laboratory staff. After serving as a ViDA Volunteer for 18 months, Ms. Letchford served as a World Health Organization Consultant continuing her work in developing capacity in diagnostic microbiology laboratories in other government hospitals. Joanne has worked with DMDP since 2013 providing leadership for DMDP activities that include training and mentoring of laboratory staff in provincial and national hospitals, participation in national programs including Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) surveillance, and production of quality microbiological growth media for laboratories throughout Cambodia. Joanne was the only employee of DMDP in 2013 and has been key to our growth and involvement in various programs supporting the government of Cambodia. Joanne now oversees DMDP staff of 12 Cambodian employees and six expert consultants contributing to the strengthening of infectious disease testing and surveillance in Cambodia. Please join us in congratulating Joanne for the work she has done and for the recognition of that work by the University of Sydney Faculty of Science.
Sheep blood is an essential growth factor for some pathogenic bacteria and the colonial morphology and hemolytic pattern of these bacteria have been well described on sheep blood agar. In order to have a reliable supply of sheep blood, DMDP has maintained a small flock of sheep at Resource Development International (RDI) Cambodia. RDI is about 11 kms. outside Phnom Penh along National Hwy. 1 on the way to the border with Vietnam. DMDP is fortunate that RDI has pens for sheep where a responsible team of Cambodian men do an excellent job of caring for the sheep.
Seab, Visal and Touch (L-R) make sure the sheep have plenty of water and feed.
Dr. Gilligan during one of the case presentations at the Microbiology Manager’s meeting
With the assistance of Ph. Sam Sopheap and Ph. Uch Monipheap and the support of Dr. Sau Sokunna of the Bureau of Laboratory Services of the Ministry of Health, Joanne Letchford, the DMDP Cambodia Country Director, organized another microbiology manager’s meeting. This was held in a large conference room courtesy of the Takeo Provincial Health Department. Every important meeting like this begins with short speeches and then a group photo. During this meeting, microbiologists from Cambodian hospitals presented some interesting cases. Dr. Peter Gilligan then divided the group into teams for his ID quiz sessions. Dr. Gilligan is famous for his case presentations. He has published four editions of the widely used “Cases in Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases”.
DMDP was pleased and honored to have Dr. Peter Gilligan come to Cambodia at our invitation. Dr. Gilligan is a Professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and the Director of the Microbiology and Immunology Laboratories at the UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill. He is the director of a CPEP-approved Postdoctoral Training Program in Medical and Public Health Microbiology. Dr. Gilligan continues to serve the American Society for Microbiology in many leadership roles. Dr. Gilligan met with, taught and delighted, Cambodian physicians, microbiology laboratory staff, medical technology and medical students. He saw Burkholderia pseudomallei growing on an agar plate in the microbiology laboratory of the Takeo Provincial Referral Hospital. Dr. Gilligan was enthusiastic about the DMDP program and Cambodia in general. Although he was here for only ten days, he even took a Khmer language lesson. He has already expressed an interest in returning to Cambodia and more teaching at the University of Health Sciences and we look forward to his return.
DMDP is very proud that DMDP Cambodia Country Director, Joanne Letchford has now graduated from James Cook University with a Master of Public Health majoring in Biosecurity and Disaster Preparedness. Jo worked hard studying online courses, writing papers and attending classes in person at JCU, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, a very prestigious university. Jo did all this studying, writing and participating in classes while doing a fantastic job supervising Cambodian laboratory mentors, organizing workshops, consulting at the central media making laboratory, providing technical support to staff in microbiology laboratories, attending many partner meetings and a number of other activities as the DMDP Cambodia Country Director. Jo passed her courses in this program with Distinction or High Distinction.
Joanne Letchford, MPH, in Cap and Gown, James Cook University, December 21, 2016
Participants working to answer pre-test questions using Poll Everywhere on their smartphones.
With support from WHO Cambodia and the Bureau of Medical Laboratory Services of the Ministry of Health, DMDP organized a three day workshop on Pathogen Identification attended by participants from a number of Cambodian microbiology laboratories and students from the Technical School for Medical Care (TSMC). Joanne Letchford, all of the DMDP Cambodian mentors and laboratory staff from NAMRU-2 and the Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope made presentations. The participants enjoyed using Poll Everywhere, a software program they could use on their smartphones, to answer pre-and post-test questions.
DMDP was pleased to learn that the US Ambassador to Cambodia, William A. Heidt, visited the diagnostic microbiology laboratory in the Battambang Provincial Referral Hospital. The microbiology laboratory in the hospital is one of the first implemented by DMDP in partnership with the Fondation Merieux. The Supervisor of the laboratory standing to the right of the Ambassador is Dr. Chiek Sivhour, who has completed a three year course in Medical Biology at the University of Health Sciences. Sivhour is a leader in diagnostic microbiology in Cambodia. Her laboratory is very active in research and training of students. Thank you, Ambassador Heidt for taking the time to visit this lab and motivate the staff.