Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Not just another knock-knock joke

contribution by Cesar A. Muedas

Knock-knock! -- Who's there?
Amos -- Amos who?
Amosquito just bit me.

Knock-knock! -- Who's there?
Andy -- Andy who?
Andy just bit me again!

Knock-knock! -- Who's there?
Abelardo -- Abelardo who?
Dr. Abelardo Moncayo

Meet Abelardo C. Moncayo, Ph.D., Medical Entomologist of the State of Tennessee and the first Hispanic-American in that position.

On a serious note, Dr. Moncayo’s work in scientific research and reporting, public communications and university and community outreach have become vital components of a sound public health policy in our state’s government.

Dr. Moncayo’s parents where already living in Maryland when they returned to their native country of Ecuador for the birth of their son. Born in the capital city of Quito, by 6 months of age Abelardo and his family had returned to Maryland. His K-12 years included completing grades in Ecuador, Spain and the US. Abelardo was raised in Athens, Ohio where he attended grade school through college. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. His extensive research and fieldwork allowed him to study the epidemiology of vector-borne diseases in Latin America, Africa and the U.S. Dr. Moncayo worked as a research fellow at the University of Texas Medical Branch and as a professor in Ohio Northern University before coming to Nashville in 2005.

Dr. Moncayo’s role as Tennessee’s Medical Entomologist puts him in charge of the Vector-Borne Diseases Branch of the Communicable and Environmental Diseases section that is part of the State Department of Health. Simply put, mosquitoes are pests that can get us very sick or even kill us, and our State is at work recruiting the scientists that are going to devote their expertise and talent to learn more about the causes, prevention and control of such diseases. In addition to policy- and prevention-driven activities, Dr. Moncayo continues doing public health research in direct collaboration with universities (e.g., Harvard, Vanderbilt, UT Knoxville and Union University) and with various sources of funding at the state and federal levels. He also serves on the faculty of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

So, let’s try now:
Why did the mosquito cross the road?
Old answer: Because it hitched a ride on the chicken …
New answer: Because Dr. Moncayo was coming!

About Cesar: Born and raised in Lima, Peru, he landed in JFK in August 1986, moved from Houston to Nashville in February 1996, became a US citizen in November 2004, and lives in Davidson county with his wife of 10 years and his 2 children. Cesar is an independent business consultant and is completing his term as first chairman of COPLA (Council of Hispanic parents with children in Metro schools).

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