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CDC Influenza Division

Office of the Director and Branch Chief Bios

Nancy J. Cox, Ph.D Nancy J. Cox, Ph.D., is director of the Influenza Division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and director of CDC’s World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology and Control of Influenza. She received a bachelor’s degree in bacteriology from Iowa State University in 1970. Dr. Cox was then awarded a Marshall Scholarship to study in England at the University of Cambridge, where in 1975 she earned a doctoral degree in virology. Her dissertation focused on influenza virus/host interactions.

Dr. Cox began her career as a postdoctoral fellow, first at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and subsequently, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she continued her work on influenza. She was selected as the chief of the Molecular Genetics Section of the Influenza Branch in 1983, chief of the Influenza Branch in 1992 and as director of the Influenza Division in 2006. She serves as a regular WHO temporary advisor for vaccine strain selection and many other influenza-related topics, including expansion of WHO’s global influenza network and expansion of its research agenda. As a member of WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group, she contributes to the development of policy related to vaccines and immunization.

Dr. Cox served on the International Committee for Taxonomy of Viruses, Orthomyxovirus Subcommittee, both as a member (1990-2009) and chair (1993-1999). She also co-chaired the first U.S. Interagency Group on Influenza Pandemic Preparedness from 1993-1995, which began the process of writing a national response plan for the next influenza pandemic. Dr. Cox has served on the organizing committee for many international influenza meetings, including “Options for the Control of Influenza III, IV, V, VI and VII” and chaired the organizing committee for “Options for the Control of Influenza VI” which was held in 2007. In her capacity as WHO Collaborating Center Director, she has organized and participated in numerous special assessments and international training courses on influenza epidemiology, isolation and identification.

Dr. Cox is the recipient of numerous scientific and achievement awards, including the Charles C. Shepard Science Awards in 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2008 and 2009. She was recognized by Time magazine as one of “The Time 100: The People Who Shape our World” and by Newsweek magazine for the “Giving Back Awards” in 2006. In addition, Dr. Cox was awarded the prestigious Service to America Medals Federal Employee of the Year for 2006. Dr. Cox is an editor for Lancet Infectious Diseases and assistant editor for other scientific journals. She has authored and co-authored over 200 research articles, reviews and book chapters.

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Daniel B. Jernigan, M.D., M.P.H. Daniel B. Jernigan, M.D., M.P.H., is a captain in the United States Public Health Service and serves as the deputy director of the Influenza Division in the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) at CDC. In his current role, Dr. Jernigan serves as senior medical officer and senior Public Health Service officer for the Influenza Division. He is responsible for oversight and direction of approximately 300 staff members with primary supervision of budget, communications, policy, preparedness and program support. In addition, he serves as a principle investigator for influenza research and public health evaluation activities.

Dr. Jernigan received an undergraduate degree from Duke University, a Doctor of Medicine from Baylor College of Medicine, and a Master of Public Health at the University of Texas. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and has completed an additional residency in Preventive Medicine.

Dr. Jernigan joined the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service in 1994, working in the Respiratory Diseases Branch on the prevention and control of bacterial respiratory pathogens, including Streptococcus pneumonia, Group A Streptococcus, and Legionella. In 1996, he began serving on assignment from NCIRD to the Washington State Health Department as a medical epidemiologist and coordinator of national initiatives to improve surveillance for emerging infectious diseases. Dr. Jernigan became the chief of the Epidemiology Section for CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion (DHQP) in 2001. In that role, he supervised numerous investigations and initiatives to characterize various hospital-acquired, device-associated, and antimicrobial-resistant pathogen issues. In 2006, Dr. Jernigan joined the Influenza Division as deputy director.

Dr. Jernigan has authored peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on various emerging infectious diseases topics, and has supervised outbreak investigations of viral, bacterial, and fungal infections associated with emerging and antimicrobial-resistant pathogens. He has led epidemiology and surveillance teams for national and international responses, including bioterrorism-related anthrax, the emergence of West Nile virus, SARS, the 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza, and public health management following natural disasters. During the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, Dr. Jernigan served as the CDC lead for all domestic and international epidemiology and laboratory activities for the U.S. government’s response. Dr. Jernigan oversees a broad portfolio of influenza diagnostic test research and development efforts, including the CDC Influenza Reagent Resource (IRR) which manufactures and globally distributes test kits and reagents for virologic surveillance and influenza research.

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Ruben Donis, Ph.D. Ruben Donis, Ph.D., serves as the Associate Director for Policy, Evaluation and Preparedness for the CDC’s Influenza Division. Before this position, Dr. Donis was chief of the former Molecular Virology and Vaccines Branch in the division.

Dr. Donis earned his Veterinary Medicine diploma from the University of Buenos Aires and his Ph.D. in Virology from Cornell University. He completed his postdoctoral work at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where he specialized in influenza molecular virology. Prior to joining CDC in 2003, Dr. Donis served on the faculty of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he participated in the leadership of the UNL Center for Biotechnology, and conducted research on influenza and flavivirus molecular biology.

At CDC, Dr. Donis oversees risk assessment studies that analyze structural and functional properties of emerging influenza viruses, including genome reassortment and virus-receptor interactions. His group monitors the evolution and pandemic potential of animal influenza viruses and develops candidate genetically engineered influenza viruses for vaccine production. Dr. Donis has more than 20 years of research experience with influenza virus molecular biology and virus-host interactions. He currently serves as an adjunct professor of microbiology at Emory University.

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Joseph Bresee, M.D. Joseph Bresee, M.D., FAAP, is chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch in CDC’s Influenza Division, and is a captain in the U.S. Public Health Service. His branch is responsible for conducting influenza surveillance, working to understand influenza disease burden, helping to derive appropriate vaccine and antiviral use policies to prevent seasonal influenza, detecting and preventing avian influenza and pandemic influenza, and providing technical expertise to global public health partners. He has led the Branch since 2005.

Dr. Bresee trained at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and then completed his Pediatric Residency at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center at the University of Washington in Seattle. Dr. Bresee joined CDC in 1993 as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officer in the Influenza Branch. From 1995 to 2005, Dr. Bresee first served as a staff epidemiologist and medical officer, specializing in viral gastrointestinal infections and respiratory infections. Subsequently, he was promoted to Epidemiology Team Lead. His research and public health activities focused on rotavirus disease and rotavirus vaccines, and he worked to ensure that rotavirus vaccines were available for children in both the U.S. as well as those living in developing countries.

Dr. Bresee has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed papers and textbook chapters.

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Jacqueline Katz, Ph.D. Jacqueline Katz, Ph.D., was appointed chief of the Immunology and Pathogenesis Branch of the CDC’s Influenza Division in 2006. Under her leadership, the Branch has received three Charles C. Shepard Science Awards for excellence in laboratory methods publications. Dr. Katz and her group are internationally renowned for their research on the pathogenesis, immunity and transmission of seasonal and pandemic influenza viruses, specifically in the area of human infection with novel influenza viruses of animal origin.

Dr. Katz earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology and Biochemistry and her Doctoral degree in Microbiology from the University of Melbourne, Australia. After completing her postdoctoral training in influenza virology, she worked as an assistant member of the Department of Virology and Molecular Biology at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. Katz joined the CDC in 1992 as chief of the Immunology and Viral Pathogenesis Section in the Influenza Branch within the Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases.

During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, Dr. Katz and her group conducted serologic studies, provided laboratory support for seroepidemiologic investigations and supplied technical support to public health partners. Using existing models systems, her team studied the properties of virulence (disease severity) and transmissibility of pandemic 2009 H1N1 viruses in comparison to seasonal viruses. This research provided a platform for the ongoing assessment of multiple preventive and treatment strategies against pandemic 2009 H1N1 infection.

In addition to her role at the CDC, Dr. Katz has adjunct appointments at Atlanta’s Emory University in the Departments of Microbiology and Immunology and Pathology, and is an adjunct member of the graduate faculty in the Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis Program of the Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. She also serves as an associate editor for the International Society for Influenza and Other Respiratory Virus Diseases. Dr. Katz’s work is documented in more than 150 research articles, reviews and books.

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Julie Villanueva, Ph.D., has been the acting chief of the Virus Surveillance and Diagnosis Branch (VSDB) of the Influenza Division since September 2012. Dr. Villanueva received her Ph.D. in biomolecular chemistry at Emory University in 1999. Her post-doctoral work was performed at the CDC in the Division of AIDS, STD, and TB Laboratory Research, investigating HIV-1 shedding and developing cell culture assays for microbicide research. She then became a research scientist and later a research manager at Kimberly-Clark Corporation in the Global Science and Technology Division. There she developed patentable technologies in the areas of wound healing, women’s health, and diagnostics and led cross-functional teams to develop new technical and business strategies for the creation of novel consumer and professional health care products.

In 2007, Dr. Villanueva joined the Influenza Division at CDC to achieve FDA clearance of the CDC Human Influenza Virus Real-time RT-PCR Detection and Characterization Panel and to collaborate with other governmental agencies on influenza pandemic preparedness. During the influenza pandemic of 2009, Dr. Villanueva directed clinical specimen diagnostic reporting and supported the FDA clearance of the CDC Influenza 2009 A(H1N1)pdm Real-Time RT-PCR Panel in 2010.

In 2011, Dr. Villaneuva became deputy to the Chief of the Virus Surveillance and Diagnostics Branch, where she continues to collaborate with external partners, complete strategic planning, manage the branch budget, and provide technical expertise, guidance, and training domestically and internationally.

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