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Program Staff: Guinea Worm Eradication Program

  • No medicine cures Guinea worm disease; no vaccine prevents it. Eradication hinges on giving people the knowledge, skills, and resources to change their behavior. (Photo: The Carter Center/ L. Gubb)

Guinea Worm Program Staff

Adam Weiss, M.P.H.
Director, Guinea Worm Eradication Program

In 2018, Adam Weiss was named director of the Carter Center's Guinea Worm Eradication Program. In this capacity, Weiss works in conjunction with the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Research, Training, and Eradication of Dracunculiasis at the CDC to provide technical assistance to national eradication programs, and to monitor and disseminate information about the status of the global campaign.

Weiss joined the Carter Center in 2005 as a technical advisor to national Guinea worm eradication programs in Ghana and Ethiopia, and, prior to becoming director, was senior associate director for the program. He also worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana where he focused on access to safe water, AIDS awareness, community-based health education, and assisted in the effort to eradicate Guinea worm disease.

Weiss graduated cum laude from Ripon College with a bachelor of arts degree in anthropology and politics and government and holds a master of public health degree from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. Weiss received the Charles C. Shepard Award for his thesis on Guinea worm in Ghana. Read full bio.

Donald Hopkins, M.D., M.P.H.
Special Advisor for Guinea Worm Eradication

Dr. Donald R. Hopkins is the former director of health programs at The Carter Center. He first joined the Center in 1987 as the senior consultant for the health programs, leading the Center's efforts to eradicate Guinea worm disease and river blindness worldwide. Hopkins' professional experience includes serving as deputy director (1984-1987) and acting director (1985) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He was an assistant professor of tropical public health at Harvard School of Public Health, and he directed the Smallpox Eradication/Measles Control Program in Sierra Leone.

Hopkins attended the Institute of European Studies at the University of Vienna. He received his bachelor of science degree from Morehouse College, his doctor of medicine from the University of Chicago, and his master of public health from the Harvard School of Public Health. He is board certified in pediatrics and public health and has been a member of seven U.S. delegations to the World Health Assembly. Read full bio.

Sarah Yerian, M.P.H.
Senior Associate Director, Guinea Worm Eradication Program

Sarah Yerian became senior associate director in May 2019 after serving as the country representative for Carter Center health programs in South Sudan since 2016. She also provided support to the South Sudan Guinea Worm Eradication Program as a technical advisor in multiple locations in the country. Yerian holds a bachelor of arts degree in biology and environmental studies from Ohio Wesleyan University and a master of public health degree from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. Prior to joining the Carter Center, Yerian worked with study abroad programs in East Africa and in both public health and wildlife management research.

Giovanna Steel, M.A.
Associate Director, Guinea Worm Eradication Program

Giovanna Steel first joined the Carter Center in 2014 as a technical advisor to the Guinea Worm Eradication Program in South Sudan, where she subsequently served as a regional coordinator and deputy country representative. Prior to joining the program she worked with various nonprofit organizations, both domestically and internationally. Steel has a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and bachelor of arts degrees in political science, Spanish, and international studies from Loyola University Chicago.

Karmen Unterwegner, M.P.H.
Associate Director, Guinea Worm Eradication Program

Karmen Unterwegner first joined the Carter Center in 2013 as a technical advisor to the Guinea Worm Eradication Program in Chad. After leaving the program in 2015 to seek her graduate degree, she rejoined the Guinea worm team in 2018 as associate director. Unterwegner began her development work in Mali with the United States Peace Corps, and has continued to work in sub-Saharan Africa for most of her career. She has largely focused on water and sanitation in efforts to reduce or eliminate the burden of various diseases. Unterwegner has a bachelor of architecture degree from the University of Oregon and a master of public health degree with a focus on global health from Emory University, where she was a Robert W. Woodruff Scholar.

Fernando J. Torres-Vélez, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Associate Director for Research

Fernando Torres-Vélez joined the Carter Center Guinea Worm Eradication Program in 2020. He earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Colorado State University, a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine, and a doctorate from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. Torres-Vélez’s 20-year career as an infectious disease veterinary pathologist spans research and senior management roles at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the USDA Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory. Prior to joining The Carter Center, Torres-Vélez served as a senior advisor for research and development at the Wadsworth Center in the New York State Department of Health.

Maryann Delea, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Epidemiologist, Guinea Worm Eradication Program

Maryann Delea has 15 years of experience in research and international public health programming and worked with the South Sudan Guinea Worm Eradication Program from 2011 through 2013. Her areas of expertise include managing programs and providing technical support, designing interventions and research projects, developing monitoring and evaluation frameworks, and conducting epidemiological investigations to identify and interrupt environmental drivers of infectious disease transmission. She has developed, implemented, and evaluated programs and projects related to water, sanitation, and hygiene, and emerging, reemerging, and neglected tropical diseases in 13 countries in Asia, Africa, and Central America. Delea received her Ph.D. in infectious and tropical diseases from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, a master of public health in global environmental health from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, and a bachelor of arts in psychology from Southern Methodist University.

Obiora Eneanya, Ph.D., M.S.

Obiora Eneanya joined the Guinea Worm Eradication Program in June 2022. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in parasitology and entomology from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nigeria, a Master of Science in applied epidemiology from the University of Nottingham in England, and a Ph.D. in infectious disease epidemiology from Imperial College London.

Eneanya arrived in the United States in September 2019 for further postdoctoral training at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis as part of the DOLF Project. There he worked on projects aiming to develop and test improved treatments for onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis. He has experience in operational field research, having conducted fieldwork in several countries in Africa.

Eneanya is an enthusiastic tennis player is a member of the Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association men’s team.

Yujing Zhao, M.P.H.
Data Analyst, Guinea Worm Eradication Program

As a data analyst for the Carter Center's Guinea Worm Eradication Program, Yujing Zhao works with data managers and epidemiologists to create systems and streamline workflows. Prior to joining the program, he was a statistician for government healthcare organizations in South Carolina, where he focused on COVID-19, HIV, stroke, and hospital-acquired infections. Zhao holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of South Carolina and a master of public health degree from the Medical University of South Carolina.

Mindze Mbala Nkanga
Program Assistant, Guinea Worm Eradication Program

Mindze Mbala Nkanga joined the Guinea Worm Eradication Program in July 2020. As a Peace Corps health volunteer in Senegal, Nkanga collaborated with community health workers to promote disease-preventing behaviors related to malaria and malnutrition. She continued working in global health with the American Cancer Society, where she served as program coordinator for the Global Capacity Development and Patient Support program. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Kalamazoo College in Michigan.


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