(HOUSTON) – Scott Lillibridge, M.D., assistant dean in the HSC-School of Rural Public Health and director of the HSC Global Health and Security Program, and Dennis Perrotta, Ph.D., associate research scientist in the HSC-SRPH, have worked with The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) Western Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research (WRCE) for almost five years.

The WRCE is hosting a meeting of the state laboratory directors from New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma in Houston on Nov. 13-14. The purpose is to promote laboratory collaboration in the event of a pandemic or large outbreak of an emerging infectious disease. Dr. Perrotta has distinguished himself as the coordinating official for this meeting of state public health/laboratory response network laboratories, and will explore how the WRCE member institutions might assist public health laboratories during an emergency.

The results of this meeting will provide the basis of an emergency response plan for the WRCE that is updated each year. As a member of this consortium, health science center faculty may compete for intramural grants according to WRCE priorities for infectious disease research and attend forums such as this laboratory meeting.

Dr. Lillibridge is the associate director for emergency preparedness for this consortium, and Dr. Perrotta, the former state epidemiologist for Texas, is the senior public health and laboratory consultant and epidemiologist. This grant funds a National Institutes of Health (NIH) consortium of 40 academic research institutions throughout the region and is managed by UTMB, with Dr. David Walker of UTMB the principal investigator.

— Rae Lynn Mitchell