DOD senior executive to lead national public health preparedness initiatives
Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) is continuing to lead national public health preparedness initiatives with the appointment of Gerald Parker, Jr., D.V.M., Ph.D., M.S., as the TAMHSC vice president for public health preparedness and response. Prior to accepting the position, Parker served as a deputy assistant secretary of defense where he was responsible for developing national strategies to protect United States service members from emerging infectious disease, biological and chemical threats, and oversaw the $1.4 billion Chemical and Biological Defense Program.
Building upon recent organizational moves at TAMHSC, The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents unanimously approved Parker’s appointment at a regularly scheduled meeting of the board today. In the newly created position, he will become principal investigator of the Center for Innovation and Advanced Development and Manufacturing (CIADM), a position currently held by Brett P. Giroir, M.D., who led the formation of the CIADM and will remain actively involved in the program. Giroir was recently appointed interim executive vice president and CEO of TAMHSC.
As part of a long-term strategic vision for the CIADM and in conjunction with Giroir’s new role, the Texas A&M System recently announced that CIADM would move to TAMHSC and leverage the complete resources of the health-related institution, which include colleges of medicine, pharmacy, public health, nursing and dentistry, and the Institute of Biosciences and Technology in Houston’s Texas Medical Center.
“Just last year, we signed the BARDA (Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority) agreement that launched the CIADM, and now, less than 18 months later, Texas A&M is once again leading the way in public health preparedness,” said John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “Dr. Parker’s renowned expertise in global biosecurity and U.S. military and civilian preparedness will enable heightened collaborations with state and federal agencies, private partners, and of course, the vast network of A&M research entities.”
Parker will continue the CIADM’s work to enhance the nation’s ability to respond to emerging infectious diseases, including pandemic influenza and other chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats with vaccines and countermeasures manufactured in the United States. Established in 2012, the CIADM was founded on a $285.6 million public-private partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is one of only three such centers in the country.
“Dr. Parker’s leadership has been instrumental in developing comprehensive preparedness plans and policies on both national and international scales,” Giroir said. “As Texas A&M Health Science Center continues serving on the forefront of biomedical research and countermeasure capabilities, I am pleased to welcome a leader with such a long and distinguished career in government service to our team.”
Since 2004, Parker has held senior executive roles at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services and most recently at the Department of Defense. He is also a retired colonel, having served more than 26 years of active duty in the Army Medical Department, including a tour as commanding officer of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). In 2009, Parker received the Distinguished Executive Presidential Rank Award for leading the implementation of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act for the Department of Health and Human Services.
“The foresight that Texas A&M has shown with the launch of the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing and, in turn, the CIADM, demonstrates an unparalleled commitment to developing flexible and agile response capabilities to save lives when our nation faces imminent threats – whether intentional or naturally emerging,” Parker said. “Success often comes when you have the right people joining together at the right time in support of a common mission, and I am honored to now be a part of the successful venture underway at Texas A&M Health Science Center.”
For Parker, this appointment marks a return to Texas A&M. He graduated from Texas A&M University in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree and in 1977 with his doctorate of veterinary medicine. He then earned his Ph.D. at Baylor College of Medicine in 1990 and a master’s degree from the Industrial College of the Armed forces in 2001.