(COLLEGE STATION, TX) — Dr. Ciro Sumaya, M.D., M.P.H.T.M., dean of the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health, recently was appointed by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to serve on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Founding dean of the HSC-SRPH, Dr. Sumaya’s four-year appointment begins July 1 and runs through June 2010. He was contacted by Michael O. Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), and encouraged to “accept this invitation and give us the benefit of your valued counsel.”

“I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to help influence U.S. vaccination policy for children and adults, especially in light of the present need to combat some very serious existing and newly emerging health problems across the world such as avian flu,” Dr. Sumaya said. “Vaccines are now also being produced with the expectation of preventing certain human cancers, with the most recent being the human papilloma virus vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.”

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) consists of 15 experts in fields associated with immunization to provide advice and guidance to the HHS Secretary and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the most effective means to alleviate vaccine-preventable diseases. It develops recommendations for the routine administration of vaccines to pediatric and adult populations, along with schedules regarding the appropriate periodicity and dosages applicable to the vaccines. The ACIP is the only entity in the federal government that makes such recommendations.

Dr. Sumaya was selected for membership on the committee from 80 nominations nationwide. Before becoming HSC-SRPH dean, he received a presidential appointment to serve as head of the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, serving for four years.

— Rae Lynn Mitchell