Tuesday, August 3, 2021
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Coronavirus Illness 2019 (COVID-19)

CDC molecular biologist Silvina Masciotra is a part of a workforce advising the White Home activity power on testing points.

Silvina Masciotra usually works in one of many laboratory buildings at CDC headquarters in Atlanta.

However recently, this professional on HIV testing has been shuttling backwards and forwards to Washington to assist states maintain their COVID-19 testing applications operating. Silvina has been a part of the CDC Testing and Diagnostics Workgroup assigned to work with the White Home Coronavirus Activity Power since June.

“It’s been an attention-grabbing journey,” she says. “I’ve by no means had an opportunity to work on one thing that’s so high-level.”

Working from the Division of Well being and Human Providers places of work within the shadow of the Capitol, she supplies recommendation to testing applications in a number of Northeastern and Midwestern states and two territories.

“We ensure that the jurisdictions can attain out to us, consider their take a look at plans and the tools they’ve in place, and assist them finest use it,” she says. “We talk with producers to help the jurisdictions with their wants and to assist producers perceive the demand, to allow them to work with them in probably the most environment friendly approach and everyone can meet their targets.”

This isn’t Silvina’s first emergency response. In 2016, she deployed to Angola to assist cease an epidemic of yellow fever after which to Puerto Rico to help with Zika virus testing. A longtime specialist in HIV testing, she has additionally suggested HIV/AIDS applications within the Dominican Republic, Cambodia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

However working among the many high ranges of the US authorities is a distinct expertise, one largely dominated by conferences, each in-person and digital.

“It’s not like being in a lab, while you go in and you’ve got 1,000 checks or so run in a day,” she says. “That is extra about speaking, reaching out, understanding the dynamic of how issues work.” However in any response, flexibility and resilience are “super-important.”

“It’s important to study to beat challenges,” Silvina says. “You may end up looking for options and having to assume outdoors the field. It’s important to be very resourceful. We need to have protocols in place and observe these, however generally you must be artistic and discover a strategy to overcome challenges.”

Silvina received excited about biology in highschool. In school, she received an internship in a laboratory “in the identical hospital the place I used to be born, truly,” she says. “That opened the door to what I’m doing at present.” She received a job as a lab technician specializing in viral testing whereas ending her diploma. She started working with each physicians and sufferers in that position “and to make a distinction, which was one thing I used to be at all times very drawn to.”

She first got here to CDC within the late Nineteen Nineties after incomes a grasp’s diploma in molecular biology in her native Argentina. A 3-month visitor researching place led to a three-year graduate fellowship at CDC.

After extra examine on biotechnology in Europe, she returned to a full-time job in 2003. At the moment, she leads CDC’s HIV reference laboratory and take a look at analysis applications.

With COVID-19 nonetheless spreading, Silvina says “quite a lot of unknowns” in regards to the illness stay. Researchers are working to reply these questions rapidly – “However till we get all these solutions, warning and prevention are the way in which to go,” she says. “We have to maintain our distance and put on masks. We’d like to bear in mind the weak inhabitants.”

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