About ICF

Cecilia Kretz

Director, Bioinformatics
Cecilia is a public health leader with nearly 10 years of experience implementing bioinformatics solutions for infectious diseases surveillance and outbreak investigations.

Cecilia is an expert in infectious diseases, bioinformatics, and public health at the federal, state, and local levels. Her areas of expertise range from laboratory testing for infectious diseases to environmental microbiology, supporting public health bioinformatics and informatics solutions. She seeks out new opportunities to apply her expertise to solve complex public health problems.

Cecilia is a recognized expert in bioinformatics and is pioneering a distinguished list of firsts in the field: She was the first “field” laboratory leadership service (LLS) fellow for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), led their first Lab-Aid response, presented one of the first Epidemic Intelligence Service conference “TED” talk, was the first LLS fellow to be awarded the Outstanding Leadership Award from the Fellows Professional Development Collective, and she was the first fellow to be a member of an Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) standing committee.

Early in her career as a molecular microbiologist and bioinformatician with the CDC, Cecilia oversaw the development of new bioinformatics projects in the Bacterial Meningitis Laboratory and analyzed in-depth whole-genome sequencing (WGS) of strains for national and international surveillance and outbreak investigations. She also established a web-based, automated WGS pipeline to uncover new pathogens.

In collaboration with scientists in the New York City (NYC) Public Health Laboratory, Cecilia led the science in using next-generation sequencing and metagenomics analyses to detect and characterize the microbiota of source and potable water collected over time across multiple locations in NYC. She coordinated multiple responses to a Legionnaires' disease outbreak and worked with a team to refine the methods used to test water samples for Legionella. She coordinated a multi-lab effort to help the Hawaii State Public Health Laboratory test environmental samples and clinical specimens for Legionella within the context of an outbreak.

Cecilia also implemented a ground-breaking sexual health initiative, “Ending the AIDS Epidemic,” where she developed an express laboratory within the busiest NYC Health’s Sexual Health Clinic. That lab tested self-collected specimens from asymptomatic patients for sexually transmitted infections with a “near point-of-care” turn-around time to enable prompt treatment.

More recently, Cecilia managed an emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases team at the APHL. She helped fortify relationships across CDC’s National Center of Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases to drive strategic and cohesive functions for public health and ensure coordination between the CDC and state and local public health laboratories.

"I find it fascinating that there are more types of bacteria on Earth than stars in the Universe."
  • Ph.D., Microbial Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California Irvine
  • B.S. (Honours), Australian National University
  • “Neonatal Conjunctivitis Caused by Neisseria Meningitidis US Urethritis Clade,” Emerging Infectious Diseases, 2019.
  • “Oropharyngeal Microbiome of a College Population Following a Meningococcal disease Outbreak,” Nature Scientific Reports, 2020.
  • “Expansion of a Urethritis-Associated Neisseria Meningitidis Clade in the United States with Concurrent Acquisition of N. Gonorrhoeae Alleles,” BMC Genomics, 2018. *Nominated for the 2019 Charles C. Shepard Science Award in Laboratory Science.
  • Joseph S, Whaley M, Retchless AC, Kretz CB, et al (2018) “Whole Genome Sequencing for Investigations of Meningococcal Outbreaks in the United States: A Retrospective Analysis,” Nature Scientific Reports, 2018.
  • “Whole Genome Characterization of the Emerging Epidemic of Meningococcal Serogroup C and Resurgence of W in Niger,” Emerging Infectious Diseases, 2015.
  • “Influence of growth rate on the physiological response of marine Synechococcus to phosphate limitation,” Frontiers in Microbiology, 2015.