3rd Year Fellows
I've been a New Yorker my whole life. Aside from living abroad in Japan and Madagascar, D.C. is the place that captured me away from NY. I was drawn to the energy of this city full of passionate, driven people seeking to make high impact changes for the better. I already know that Children's National and the FDA/CDER track are perfectly poised to help me do just that: to learn everything I can about not only bread and butter pediatric ID, but also to equip me with the critical reasoning skills I would need to handle any weird bug I encountered in the future. The division is full of warm, nerdy and truly impressive senior fellows and mentors that I am privileged to learn from and work with. With the unique opportunity to be a medical officer at an agency like the FDA, I will work in teams to play a direct role in ensuring product safety and patient/ consumer protection. I am also passionate about health policy and legislative advocacy, and the ways in which the quality of the patient care we deliver everyday can be impacted by the laws and policies that govern us. I love tropical and emerging diseases, global health and epidemiology and my favorite pathogen has to be the Chikungunya virus because let's face it...it takes the prize for "Best Named Bug in the Microbe Kingdom." Unrelated to any of this, I also love hip hop, writing, pretending I'm a TV/ film/ food critic, photography, travel off the beaten path and themed parties.
I’m originally from Minnesota but have traveled around quite a bit for my medical training. I did medical school in Pennsylvania and in the upstate New York area before moving down south to Alabama for residency. This is my first time in the D.C. area and I am extremely excited to be here to experience all the food and culture the city has to offer. Being a fellow in CBER/FDA provides an exciting opportunity to get insight on up and coming vaccines and the process that leads to their approval. In my free time I really enjoy being outdoors whether it be hiking, camping or backpacking, which ties in closely with my favorite bug, Borrelia burgdorferi, considering tick checks are part of my regular routine. My clinical interests are related to diagnostics and how they can be incorporated into stewardship so I am always looking forward to learning about new technologies in the field!
Maria Rueda Altez
I was born and raised in Lima, Peru and went to medical school at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia. I came to D.C. for residency and loved it so much, I decided to stay for three more years to train in Infectious Diseases. D.C. is an amazing city to live in, with a diverse population, lots of culture and opportunities for advocacy everywhere. I enjoy discovering new cuisines by exploring new restaurants all around the DMV area. I’m also obsessed with escape rooms and try to go to a new one every month. My interests include antimicrobial stewardship and medical education, which I will have lots of opportunities to develop as the Traditional Track fellow. My spirit microorganism? I am a very visual learner, so I would have to pick Giardia lamblia as I will never be able to forget its cute “whiskers."
2nd Year Fellows
I grew up in southern California and later ventured out to the east coast, first for medical school in New York, and then D.C. for my pediatric residency. Not surprisingly, I absolutely loved living in the District, stayed on as a chief resident for a year, and was fortunate enough to match into the CNH Infectious Diseases Fellowship as a traditional track fellow for another three! Academically, I’m interested in antimicrobial stewardship, medical education, and global and immigrant health. When I’m not at the hospital, you can find exploring the DMV outdoors (cycling, hiking, skiing) or indoors (cooking, museums, D&D, brunching). Favorite bug = Hantavirus. A gnarly viral illness with an interesting history. The genotype famous for outbreaks in the western U.S. got its name because several local communities didn’t want to have it named after them (earlier names included Muerto Canyon and Four Corners Virus). The virologists gave up and called it Sin Nombre, or "Nameless."
I am a Marylander born and bred but have done all my medical training in the midwest. I went to medical school at the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine and did my pediatric residency at Advocate Children’s-Park Ridge. I was thrilled to come to Children's National for my Pediatric ID Fellowship not only because it is a fantastic program, but because it allowed me to come back home! I have been interested in Infectious Diseases since college, and I did a master's in ID and Immunology before going to medical school. Being a member of the ID team is like being a part of an elite detective squad. We delve into medical histories and lab results to find answers and help patients. I have a passion for antimicrobial stewardship and being a part of CDER allows me to get a deeper understanding of how drugs come to be used in practice. When I'm not being a detective, I'm looking for new restaurants and that amazing Maryland seafood, enjoying time with my family, and playing with my cat. If I had to pick a favorite microbe (quite difficult to do) it would have to be Fusobacterium necrophorum, the main causative agent of Lemierre's syndrome, because it's not commonly seen and makes a big entrance when it arrives.
1st Year Fellows
I grew up in Mumbai and moved to Baltimore for residency in 2019. I haven’t been able to visit Mumbai since (thank you, COVID!) but the DMV area has embraced me well. I love how diverse D.C. is in its food and culture, so basically, I came to D.C. for the food. Just kidding, the real answer is that this is a great program with cool people that had the "best vibe." My interests are broad and include global health, public health, lab/antimicrobial stewardship, QI and med-ed. I enjoy mentoring medical students and residents and I am an IMG advocate. I like to sing, play the guitar and reluctantly go on hikes with my husband. I may change my answer as bugs and I become better friends, but for now my favorite microbe is Lactobacillus acidophilus as it’s a friendly bug that creates a healthy microbiome.
I was born in North Carolina but was whisked away to New England at 4 years of age when I started to develop a southern accent. I grew up in a small town in rural New Hampshire but got a taste of metropolitan life during my 6th grade year when I lived in Paris with my parents. I went to college on the Maine coast at Bowdoin where I majored in French but managed to complete my pre-med requirements. I studied abroad in Senegal during my junior year where I was introduced to the concept of public health and where I was also introduced to my husband, a fellow study-abroad student from Idaho. We maintained a long-distance relationship for the remainder of our undergrad and graduate school years. I graduated from Johns Hopkins with my master’s degree in Global Disease Epidemiology and took a job as an epidemiologist for the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch for four years before going back to school. I completed medical school and my pediatric residency at University of Maryland and am now very excited to dive back into the realm of infectious diseases and public health as a CBER ID fellow here at Children’s National! I spend my free time wrangling my two young kids and enjoy day trips around the Baltimore/DMV area whenever we can get organized enough to leave the house. My favorite pathogen is poliovirus because our global effort to eradicate it represents an amazing public health success and because it is still a major area of focus requiring new strategies to ultimately achieve our goal.
I am originally from Salt Lake City, which remains my favorite place in the world. I have moved progressively east across the country – Chicago for residency, and now D.C. for fellowship as a CDER fellow. I was drawn to this program because of the dynamic clinical experience it offers and the warmth I experienced from the people in the division. My interests in infectious diseases are still broad and I am excited about the opportunities it offers. When I'm not at the hospital, you can find me exploring restaurants and wandering outside with my husband and baby girl. My favorite microbe is the variola virus (the virus that causes smallpox) because you probably haven't heard of it! I see this as evidence of how important the infectious diseases field is because this illness has been eradicated!
NIH/CNH Med-Peds Fellows
Rachel Strength (1st year)
I was born and raised in New Orleans, LA, the home of king cakes and crawfish. I then moved to St. Louis where I went to Washington University for college and majored in biomedical engineering. I moved back to New Orleans for a couple of years and then decided to switch things up by going to LSU in Shreveport, LA, for medical school. After that, I did Med-Peds residency at University of Tennessee with some of the best human beings ever. I’m a Med-Peds ID fellow here, and this community could not be more welcoming. On my interview day with the NIH and Children’s National, I loved everyone’s enthusiasm for learning, and every single person I met seemed like someone I would genuinely enjoy hanging out with. I moved here with my husband and two (very spoiled) cats, and we are loving D.C. so far. My hobbies include anything arts and crafts related (currently mostly quilting and sewing), traveling and playing board games. Oh yes, and my favorite organism is none other than THE Great Imitator, Treponema pallidum! It’s been around forever, it’s constantly driving doctors crazy, and there is still so much to learn about it!
Bennett Waxse (2nd year)
I spent the first 18 years of my life in Omaha, NE, which we were told used to be the Telecommunications Capital of the World due to the neutral accent. Over the ensuing years, I picked up “y’all” from undergrad and medical school in Texas, “cheers” from graduate school in England, “What do you do?” from graduate school in D.C., and “dibs” from residency in Chicago. Now, I’m delighted to return to the District to learn infectious diseases in this richly diverse and international city as an NIH-CNH Med-Peds ID Fellow. My clinical interests center on clinical decision-making and in the lab, I’d like to use systems biology to aid in diagnosis of infectious diseases. My favorite bug is the ancient obligate human pathogen and master of immune subversion, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Out of work, I love exploring D.C.’s food, cocktail, music, hiking and yoga scenes with my wife and our Min Pin, Kiwi.
Janitzio Guzmán (3rd year)
I am a native son of Austin, TX. Though mom tells me I knew I wanted to be a kids’ doctor when I was six, I discovered in high school that I loved the microscopic world. I accepted a great opportunity to complete my undergraduate degree in microbiology at the Ohio State University, and after spending a couple of years working for the National Hispanic Institute, I decided that I was ready to pursue my lifelong dream of a career in medicine. After medical school at the University of Texas School of Medicine in San Antonio, I matched to internal medicine-pediatrics residency at the University of Oklahoma in Tulsa. My mentor there encouraged me to take a look at the Children’s National’s pediatric ID program and the rest is, as they say, history. I’m thrilled to train at the National Institutes of Health and Children’s National Hospital as an adult and pediatric infectious diseases physician. I will nerd out unabashedly about parasites (especially Plasmodium vivax, my favorite of the malarias) and bugs in general. When I’m not busy thinking about microbes, I love to spend time outdoors with my pup, Copper.