Dr. Hinrichs honored for his work in public health

by Lisa Spellman, UNMC public relations | June 13, 2014

Image with caption: Steven Hinrichs, M.D., chairman of pathology and microbiology

Steven Hinrichs, M.D., chairman of pathology and microbiology

Whenever there is an E-coli outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collects data from public health laboratories in the affected states using a data exchange system created by a group spearheaded by Steven Hinrichs, M.D., chairman of pathology and microbiology at UNMC.

Before public health laboratories were catapulted to the spotlight by anthrax scares post-9/11, data was gathered the old fashioned way, with pen and paper. After 9/11, federal officials looking for answers as to what kind of white powder covered their mail realized how antiquated that system was.

With the leadership and help of Dr. Hinrichs, a model was created and piloted at the Nebraska Public Health Lab and later implemented across the country at other labs.

"It really transformed the public health lab and how information is collected and shared," Dr. Hinrichs said.

For his contributions to public health laboratory science and practice, Dr. Hinrichs was given the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) Lifetime Achievement Award in May.

"It is always an honor to be recognized by your peers," Dr. Hinrichs said. "But I also recognize it was awarded for the body of work done by many others working on projects that I was fortunate to be a part of."

Dr. Hinrichs was the founding director of the Nebraska Public Health Lab in 1997 and continued in that role until 2013 when Pete Iwen, Ph.D., professor of pathology and microbiology, took over.

With the help of Tony Sambol, associate professor of pathology and microbiology, Dr. Hinrichs set about streamlining how information was collected and aggregated by implementing an electronic data exchange system.

Along the way, Dr. Hinrichs and a team from the CDC created the first Food and Drug Administration approved package insert for a CDC-developed influenza testing assay distributed to all public health labs, further streamlining how the states report cases of flu across the country.

"The insert provided uniformity in the language and reporting codes everyone would use," Dr. Hinrichs said.

And in 2002 Dr. Hinrichs and his team began working with the Department of Defense on developing testing assays for emerging infectious diseases for use by public health officials and troops in the field. So far 10 assays have been developed.

"I'm honored to have been part of these projects and owe whatever success I had to the support of my colleagues here at UNMC, the DOD and the APHL," Dr. Hinrichs said.


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Aleta Gaertner
June 19, 2014 at 2:11 PM

Congratulations, Dr. Hinrichs!

Mary Haven
June 16, 2014 at 2:03 PM

Congratulations Dr. Hinrichs. I am happy for you. This is wonderful recognition for your work.

Frank Rutar
June 13, 2014 at 12:34 PM

Simply a great honor for a great guy! Congratulations!!

Christi Kjar
June 13, 2014 at 10:53 AM

Congratulations!!! Dr. Hinrichs I am sure this recognition is well deserved.

Tom O'Connor
June 13, 2014 at 9:58 AM

Great recognition and well deserved! Kudos, Steve.

Hal M
June 13, 2014 at 4:38 AM

Congrats Steve! Atta boy! Hal M.