Mectizan Expert Committee

Mectizan Expert Committee

The Mectizan Expert Committee (MEC) is an independent body of seven internationally recogized experts in the fields of public health, tropical disease, and ophthalmology established by Merck to provide technical oversight of the Mectizan Donation Program. Mectizan Expert Committee Members are appointed for two to three year terms and meet at least once annually. For recent MEC policy recommendations, please see the policy page.

Current Members

Dr. Gilbert Burnham, Chair of the Mectizan Expert Committee

Dr. Burnham is a Professor in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in the department of international health. He has extensive field experience in onchocerciasis control and has worked on a number of WHO onchocerciasis-related working groups including the WHO Ivermectin Subcommittee and Scientific Working Group on Filariasis and the WHO Onchocerciasis Operational Research Task Force. He also provided assistance to the WHO Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases analyzing the impact of ivermectin on onchocercal skin disease. Dr. Burnham worked in Malawi to establish a Mectizan distribution program and eye care project and he conducted an evaluation of the Malawi onchocerciasis control program for the International Eye Foundation. He also worked in Uganda on an onchocerciasis control consultation for Deutsche Gesellschaft Technische Zusammenarbeit. Dr. Burnham has published a number of articles on onchocerciasis and other tropical diseases, including an editorial commentary in the Lancet on the use of ivermectin in loiasis endemic areas, a topic frequently discussed during MEC/AC meetings.

Dr. Boakye Boatin, Research Leader for UNICEF/UNDP/World UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/ WHO Special Bank/ WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases

Dr. Boakye Boatin holds a degree in Medicine, International Public Health and Epidemiology. He currently leads the research in integrated community based interventions at the WHO based TDR, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Disease. Before taking on the current role, g  y p , he managed research in Lymphatic Filariasis and was responsible for the link between the TDR and the Neglected Tropical disease department of the WHO. For over 15 years he worked in onchocerciasis, its epidemiology and it's control through chemotherapy, publishing a wide range of over 40 scientific articles in this field. Most of his work on  onchocerciasis was carried out  our while working  at the Onchocerciasis Control Programme in west Africa (OCP)  first as its epidemiologist, during which time the research leading to  the strategy of Community Directed Treatment with ivermectin for onchocerciasis was undertaken, its head of Planning Evaluation and Transfer and later as the Director of the Programme. He currently has the task of leading the research to establish how far one can go with community directed interventions as one of the strategies to strengthen Primary Health Care in the disease endemic countries. 

Dr. Frank Richards, FAAP Dr. Richards is an expert in parasitic and tropical diseases who has worked extensively in Latin America and Africa. The health programs he directs at The Carter Center have helped to provide more than 250 million treatments for parasitic disease in 11 countries over the last 15 years. The malaria program helped provide nearly 20 million insecticide-treated bed nets in Nigeria, Ethiopia and Hispaniola.

Dr. Richards spent 23 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he reached the rank of captain in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service.  During his entire career he focused on parasitic disease control and eradication in the Americas and Africa. He worked on schistosomiasis control in Egypt, Guinea worm eradication in Cameroon, lymphatic filariasis elimination in Haiti and Nigeria, and malaria control in Guatemala, Hispaniola, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. Dr. Richards' particular expertise is in onchocerciasis (river blindness) and the delivery of Mectizan® tablets (donated by Merck & Co., Inc.) through mass drug administration (MDA) programs. He has worked with the Guatemalan Mectizan distribution program since 1987 and in the Nigerian Mectizan distribution program since 1992. He participated in the launching and operations of two major regional river blindness programs: the Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas (launched in 1992), which reaches six countries in the Americas, and the African Program for Onchocerciasis Control (launched in 1996), reaching 19 countries in Africa.  Dr. Richards left CDC to join The Carter Center in 2005, where he directs the River Blindness, Lymphatic Filariasis, Schistosomiasis/Soil Transmitted Helminth Programs.  He directed The Carter Center’s Malaria Program from 2008-2014. Dr. Richards earned his B.A. degree from Williams College and his medical degree from Cornell University. He completed a residency in pediatrics at the University of Southern California/Children's Hospital of Los Angeles and his fellowship in epidemiology as a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Officer, and a fellowship in infectious diseases at Emory University Medical School.

Dr. Richards' awards include the Williams College Bicentennial Medal, the Commissioned Corps Outstanding Service Medal, the Department of Health and Human Services' Secretary's Award for Distinguished Service, the National Medical Fellowships Pioneer Award, and the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene's Bailey K. Ashford Medal. Dr. Richards has authored or co-authored more than 180 articles, letters, and chapters. He holds faculty appointments at the Emory Rollins School of Public Health (Department of Global Health), and the Emory School of Medicine (Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease). He is the Chair of the Program Coordinating Committee of OEPA, the immediate past Chair of the NDGO Group for Onchocerciasis Elimination, and a member of the WHO NTD Strategic and Technical Advisory Group, the Mectizan Expert Committee, and the Executive Group of the Global Alliance for the Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis.   

Dr. Mamadou Traore (bio coming soon)

Dr. Tom Unnasch is the Department Chair and Distinguished USF Health Professor in the Department of Global Health. His research has focused upon vector-borne diseases (see "Florida Trend" article) and the human filarial infections. The laboratory concentrates upon research areas that have a direct impact upon disease control and elimination programs targeting vector-borne pathogens worldwide. The laboratory is involved in developing new tools to enhance the efficiency of the surveillance activities carried out by onchocerciasis (river blindness) control and elimination programs in Africa and Latin America. The laboratory has been instrumental in the development of molecular based methods for the detection of the river blindness parasite Onchocerca volvulus both in humans and in its black fly vector. We continue to assist these programs, both in the development of diagnostic methods as well as in the development of mathematical algorithms to use data collected from screening pools of vectors to quantify the intensity of exposure in the affected human population. We are also working closely with collaborators in Africa and Latin America to develop spatial models to predict zones which are at risk for onchocerciasis using remote sensing data, and to develop more efficient methods for the collection of vector blackflies to monitor transmission of onchocerciasis. In the field of arboviral infections, our laboratory is studying the ecology of Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEEV) in the Southeastern USA, concentrating on elucidating the dynamic processes in the host-vector relationship that are drivers in the development of EEEV enzootics and epidemics. The ultimate goal of these studies is to develop a predictive model for habitats that are most likely to represent EEEV enzootic foci. Such a model could be used to most efficiently target the surveillance and vector control efforts of the mosquito control programs throughout Florida and the Southeastern USA.

Dr. Sam Zaramba (bio coming soon)

LF Advisors for Albendazole Coordination

Dr. Amy Klion, Staff Physician, US National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

Amy Klion, M.D. has a broad range of experience in parasitic diseases having worked in research areas such as host immune responses to filarial infection and diagnostic approaches in parasitic disease. Dr. Klion began participating in Mectizan Expert Committee/Albendazole Coordination meetings in 1999 as Special Advisor on Lymphatic Filariasis. In addition to her expertise on LF, she also has research experience with Loa loa and onchocerciasis. In 2001, Dr. Klion also contributed her expertise to the Scientific Working Group on Serious Adverse Events in Loa-endemic Areas held in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Charles Mackenzie, Michigan State University, Dimondale, Michigan, USA

Charles Mackenzie, BVSc, PhD, joined the Mectizan Expert Committee/Albendazole Coordination as Special Advisor on Lymphatic Filariasis in 1999 following his post with the Mectizan Donation Program as ad interim Director for the Lymphatic Filariasis Program. Dr. Mackenzie has extensive experience in the field with both onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis. He traveled to Sudan on numerous occasions to ensure that Mectizan is being effectively distributed there in spite of the civil conflict and other constraints there. Dr. Mackenzie is a professor of veterinary pathology at Michigan State University (MSU) which is a Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GAELF) partner. MSU's GAELF role also includes fellowship opportunities for students in endemic countries to study at MSU. Dr. Mackenzie directs the LF activities at MSU, and travels extensively to endemic countries to help them develop the capacity to distribute Mectizan and albendazole for LF in Africa, and albendazole and diethylcarbamazine in all other endemic countries.

Liaison Organizations

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas
Merck & Co., Inc.
LF Regional Program Review Group