Office of the Director

The Office of the Director (OD) provides leadership and management for the programs and activities in DHCPP. In addition, the OD assures coordination with National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Office of Infectious Diseases (OID), and other CDC offices and administrative units.

Functions of the OD include:

  • scientific and fiscal oversight
  • communication
  • policy guidance
  • program planning, development, and management
  • operations support and logistics

The OD also houses the Prion and Public Health Office (PPHO), the group responsible for monitoring human prion diseases in the United States.

Fernando Torres-Vélez, DVM, Ph.D.

Director for the Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology

National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases

photo of Fernando Torres-Vélez

Dr. Torres-Velez is the Director for the Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology (DHCPP). He comes to DHCPP with over 20 years of experience in infectious disease research and management of scientific programs. Before joining DHCPP in 2023, Dr. Torres-Vélez served as Associate Director for Research in the Guinea Worm Eradication Program at the Carter Center in Atlanta. He was responsible for building an extensive global research portfolio to address gaps in diagnostics, therapeutics, and applied research to stop transmission in sub-Saharan endemic countries. Early in his career, he worked at the National Institutes of Health as Chief of the Infectious Diseases Pathogenesis Section at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), before joining the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). At APHIS, he held leadership positions in reagents and vaccine services and in diagnostics services before serving as director of APHIS’s Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (FADDL) at the Department of Homeland Security Plum Island Animal Disease Center. The FADDL, a high-containment laboratory for high-consequence pathogens affecting livestock, is a national and international reference laboratory for the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH, formerly known as OIE), as well as for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Following his 7-year tenure at FADDL, Dr. Torres-Vélez served as a senior research advisor at the Wadsworth Center at the New York State Department of Health and senior technical consultant at LifeStock International, a non-profit organization.

Dr. Torres-Vélez earned a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from Colorado State University, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Tuskegee University, and a PhD in Veterinary Pathology from the University of Georgia, where he also completed his residency training in veterinary anatomic pathology. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship in emerging infectious diseases from 2000–2002 in CDC’s Pathology Branch.