David H. Walker, MD, Carmage and Martha Walls Distinguished Chair in Tropical Diseases, and professor and chair of UTMB’s Department of Pathology, is executive director of the CBEID. Dr. Walker has a long and distinguished career as an independent NIH-funded scientist. His research on rickettsial and ehrlichial molecular microbiology, immunity, pathology, pathogenesis, clinical pathophysiology, epidemiology, and diagnosis has included important contributions to elucidating the protective immune mechanisms against rickettsiae and ehrlichiae, the discovery and characterization of agents of emerging infectious diseases, description of new diseases, and contributions to the descriptions of the pathology of Lassa fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, boutonneuse fever, and human monocytotropic ehrlichiosis. His investigation of the 1979 outbreak of anthrax in Sverdlovsk, Russia revealed it to have been inhalational anthrax. His field research projects and training of international scientists have ranged from China, Inner Mongolia, Sicily, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Slovenia, and Japan to Cameroon. Dr. Walker is the Principal Investigator of the Western Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research (WRCE). This ten-year, $110 million NIH grant supports research to develop new vaccines for glanders, melioidosis, tularemia, brucellosis, Q fever, epidemic typhus, Rift Valley fever, Nipah virus encephalitis, Argentine hemorrhagic fever, Venezelan equine encephalitis, Japanese encephalitis, chickungunya fever, and point-of-care diagnostics for NIAID Category A-C agents that employ lateral flow microarrays, micro-optical sensors and nanotechnology, DNA-protein chimeras, and microretroreflectors.
Director for Biodefense is C.J. Peters, MD, UTMB professor and holder of the John Sealy Distinguished University Chair in Tropical and Emerging Virology. Prior to joining UTMB, Dr. Peters had been chief of the Special Pathogens Branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta since 1992 and had directed research at federal Biosafety Level 4 laboratories, including the lab at the CDC and another at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Frederick, MD. Dr. Peters has traveled widely in South America and Africa investigating viral outbreaks. The native Texan played a key role in tracking down the hantavirus that caused mysterious deaths in New Mexico. He also battled a 1989 lethal Ebola virus outbreak among monkeys at a Reston, Va, biomedical supply company and is author, with Mark Olshaker, of the 1997 book, Virus Hunter: Thirty Years of Battling Hot Viruses Around the World.
The Associate Director for the CBEID is Kimberly Schuenke, PhD. Dr. Schuenke promotes the activities of biodefense and infectious disease faculty at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Dr. Schuenke currently serves as the program administrator for the WRCE. The WRCE is one of eleven such centers in the nation, and combines the energy, creativity, and resources of over 40 institutions in Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. She is also the co-investigator on an NIAID-funded science education grant which provides an interactive, web-based adventure series that engages middle-school students in problem-solving activities in infectious diseases.