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UTMB names virologist to head vaccine efforts

GALVESTON, Texas — The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston on Thursday named Dr. Alan Barrett as director of the Sealy Center for Vaccine Development, placing a prominent virologist at the helm of its international efforts to develop vaccines and treatments for infectious disease.

Barrett, who holds the John S. Dunn Distinguished chair in Biodefense, will begin serving in the new position immediately.

 At UTMB since 1993, Barrett is noted for helping to create UTMB’s Center for Tropical Diseases and the Robert E. Shope BSL4 Laboratory, and as the first director of the Biosafety Level 3 Laboratories. He has been the associate director for basic science in this Sealy Center since 2001.

 "Alan brings a unique mix of intelligence, research acumen, leadership and collaboration that will serve the university and the scientific community well,” said Garland Anderson, UTMB dean of the School of Medicine, who made the announcement. “His record of discovery and innovation, his strength in collaborating across the university, and his influence in the international community are indicators of his expertise and leadership."

Barrett’s recent research accomplishments are reflected in 144 peer-reviewed articles, 46 book chapters and reviews, and more than $7 million in research funding awarded while at UTMB.

He is currently chairman of the World Health Organization (WHO) advisory committee on vaccine research for dengue and other flaviviruses. He served for five years on the NIH Vaccines Special Emphasis Panel and for three years on the Scientific Advisory Group of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-sponsored Pediatric Dengue Vaccine Initiative. He is an editor of the Journal of General Virology and a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Medical Virology and Virus Research, and has either led or been a member of a number of NIH special emphasis panels.

Barrett holds a Ph.D. in Virology, from the University of Warwick, Coventry, U.K.  He completed postdoctoral training in arbovirology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

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