UNTHSC grad chosen for CDC’s ‘top gun’ disease detective service


Published: December 13, 2019

By Sally Crocker

Amy BoardFor decades, the image of worn out shoe leather with a prominent hole in the bottom has served as a visual representation of the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) disease detectives who travel the world investigating outbreaks that threaten the public’s health.

These officers have been globally recognized as the CDC’s “boots on the ground” epidemiologists for 65 years and counting, stepping up at a moment’s notice to tackle public health threats like polio, smallpox, Ebola, SARS, the Zika virus, Legionnaires’ disease, HIV/AIDS, E. coli and anthrax bioterrorism, all to help save lives and protect people.

Being chosen for the very competitive EIS post-graduate fellowship program is a high honor.

Although only a small handful are selected, hundreds of scientists, healthcare and public health professionals apply annually for this two-year, hands-on opportunity to work under the mentorship of experienced epidemiologists at the CDC and partnering agencies.

Among the new EIS Class of 2019 is Amy Board, DrPH, MSW, MPH, a graduate of the UNT Health Science Center School of Public Health (DrPH ’17 and MPH ’13).

Dr. Board is among 66 individuals chosen for this year’s class.

“It is especially noteworthy to be named an EIS officer – selection is highly competitive,” said Dr. Dennis Thombs, Dean of the UNTHSC School of Public Health. “EIS officers are CDC’s disease detectives. They serve as the nation’s front line defense against disease outbreaks and major epidemics not just in the U.S., but around the world. Our school is extremely proud of Dr. Board.”

EIS officers are often the first on the scene as rapid responders who investigate the cause of sickness and germs and how they are spread, responding as well to natural disasters and emerging public health threats that can happen anywhere, at any time.

CDC EIS officers track down and identify causes and rapidly take action to control disease outbreaks and public health emergencies when they occur, as well as recommend actions for future prevention.

Dr. Board is assigned to CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Overdose Prevention, Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch. Her home base will be in Atlanta.

“The EIS program offers a unique combination of on-the-job learning and service. I had the double excitement of first being accepted and then finding out that I would be spending the next two years further developing my epidemiology skills through a subject area I’m particularly interested in learning more about,” she said. “I couldn’t have been more thrilled for this opportunity.”

Dr. Board was first drawn to a public health career years ago while working for the Catholic Charities of Fort Worth refugee services program – it was there that she was exposed to many global health issues in chronic and infectious diseases that she ended up wanting to study at a higher level.

“I had heard about UNTHSC’s public health program and thought it sounded really interesting. I wasn’t aware of public health as a career option before then, but as soon as I started the MPH program, I knew this was what I wanted to do moving forward,” she said.

“In public health, the community is your ‘patient,’ and I love knowing that the work I do can have a positive impact on a broad scale,” Dr. Board said.