Sundermann: 2020 Delta Omega Initiate


Alexander Sundermann is a clinical research coordinator and a DrPH student in epidemiology at Pitt Public Health. As a doctoral student and clinical research coordinator, Sundermann works in the Microbial Genomic Epidemiology Laboratory (MiGEL). He and the MiGEL team are working with experts at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and Carnegie Mellon University to build an Enhanced Detection System for Healthcare Associated Transmission (EDS-HAT).

Sundermann brings his years of experience working in infection prevention to the MiGEL team to investigate, trace, and analyze outbreaks detected by EDS-HAT. MiGEL’s tool combines genomic sequencing and machine learning of the electronic health record data to detect infectious disease outbreaks and their transmission routes faster compared to traditional epidemiological methods. EDS-HAT, shown in numerous publications, has detected new outbreaks and novel routes of transmission illustrating the promising economic and epidemiological impact on infection prevention. Alex received his MPH in IDM from Pitt Public Health in 2014.

Prior to joining MiGEL, Alex worked in infection prevention at UPMC Presbyterian hospital where he implemented quality improvement measures and educated staff to reduce healthcare-associated infections. He led initiatives such as improving the hospital’s water disinfection system, expediting the first responder infectious disease exposure notification system, and the adoption of new technology to reduce infections. Notably, he and his colleagues investigated and traced the source of an outbreak of invasive mold infections to healthcare laundry. The team published a national, multi-center study that brought attention to the hygienic quality of healthcare linens with additional publications underway.

Of his time at Pitt Public Health, Sundermann says, "Pitt Public Health not only prepared me for a career in infection prevention, but aligned my career path through the practicum program. As an MPH student, I completed my practicum at UPMC Presbyterian infection prevention where I later worked full-time after graduation. From there, I connected with Dr. Lee Harrison and the MiGEL team where I joined as a part-time DrPH student and now clinical research coordinator."

His favorite part of his job? "I am thankful to work with a passionate, supporting, and multidisciplinary team at MiGEL. Our team is on the leading edge of infection prevention research and aiming to change the paradigm of healthcare outbreak investigation."


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