Magic Carpet Ride: From Gonzaga Chemistry Major to Global Public Health Research

Presented by The Center for University Research and Creative Inquiry in the College of Arts and Sciences & Gonzaga's Alumni Relations

Join us for a timely and engaging talk with Dr. Mary Kamb '77, who currently leads the epidemiologic research team supporting elimination and control of neglected tropical diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. She will share lessons learned at Gonzaga, including her first research experiences and how they informed and inspired her current work at the CDC. Mary's former thesis advisor, Dr. Kay Nakamaye, will join us at the beginning of the discussion.

What is public health? Hear a brief history of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its mission, and the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) program. Finally, you’ll hear about global public health research areas Dr. Kamb has worked in personally and the role that health equity plays in public health — including in our current pandemic. Bring your questions and we’ll see you there!


Speaker Bios

Dr. Mary L. Kamb headshot

Mary L. Kamb, MD, MPH leads the epidemiologic research team supporting elimination and control of neglected tropical diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta: priorities are global eradication of Guinea worm and elimination of lymphatic filariasis (“elephantiasis”), onchocerciasis (“river blindness”) and blinding trachoma.

A native of western Washington state, Dr. Kamb is a graduate of Gonzaga University in Spokane and the University of Washington Schools of Medicine and Public Health in Seattle. She completed an Internal Medicine residency at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, followed by a chief medical residency at the Waltham Weston Medical Center and a post-doctoral fellowship in Cancer Epidemiology at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Institute.

Since joining CDC in 1989 as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer, she has led HIV/STD prevention research and evaluations domestically and internationally. She was the first CDC Country Director in Vietnam, setting up the Vietnam Ministry of Health collaboration for HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment that became Asia’s inaugural PEPFAR program. She later led CDC’s global STD research, prioritizing the evidence and partnerships needed to promote elimination of congenital syphilis. She is a founding member of both the Global Validation Advisory Group for Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV and Syphilis (EMTCT) led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Americas Regional Validation Committee for EMTCT led by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and she co-chairs CDC’s Maternal and Perinatal Health working group. Her public health passions are reducing maternal and child health disparities through improved health systems, the intersection of health and human rights, and mentoring young public health scientists.

Dr. Kay L. Nakamaye headshot

Dr. Kay L. Nakamaye is an emeritus chemistry professor and served as Dr. Mary’s Kamb’s thesis advisor during her time at Gonzaga University. Dr. Nakamaye graduated from University of Utah, Salt Lake City in 1963 with a B.S in Chemistry and received his Ph.D. in Physical Organic Chemistry from UC Berkley in 1967. Over the next four decades he conducted research and taught at Gonzaga University (Scholl Chair in Chemistry 1998–2007; Assistant Professor 1970, Associate Professor 1974, Professor 1979, Gonzaga Alumni Teacher of the Year 1978–79; Chairman 1974–77, 1984–85, 1986–88) as well as many other institutions domestically and abroad. Since retiring in 2007 he enjoys spending time with family, traveling and climbing.