The Emerging Pathogens Institute is pleased to announce the appointment of five new associate directors to lead key areas within the institute: research initiatives, research resources, outreach, educational programs and training. During the 2022 EPI Town Hall, Director J. Glenn Morris, Jr., M.D., presented this expanded leadership structure, which is designed to enhance collaborative research opportunities.
“The great strength of EPI is its outstanding interdisciplinary membership,” Morris said. “Bringing new people into the leadership structure will allow us to further assist our membership in formulating novel research approaches and collaborative projects.”
Marco Salemi appointed EPI Associate Director for Research Initiatives
Professor Marco Salemi, Ph.D., serves as EPI Associate Director for Research Initiatives. In this role, Salemi is developing strategies to increase collaborations on large-scale extramural funding opportunities. He aims to accelerate growth in strategic research areas, with a specific emphasis on AI initiatives. He will also foster mentorship programs for new and junior EPI investigators.
Salemi is a professor in the UF College of Medicine Department of Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine. He holds the Stephany W. Holloway University Chair for research in chronic and infectious diseases and was a Marie-Curie Fellow at the Rega Institute of the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. He received his doctorate in science from the Catholic University of Leuven in 1999 and has worked as a postdoctoral scientist at the University of California – Irvine with Walter M. Fitch, one of the founding fathers of molecular phylogenetics.
Salemi is internationally recognized as an expert in the field of molecular evolution of viruses and phylogenetic analysis. A highly cited researcher, he has published more than 200 original research articles in peer-reviewed journals, including Nature, Science and PNAS, and he is funded by multiple National Institutes of Health awards. He has been a faculty member at the University of Florida since 2004.
Maureen Long appointed EPI Associate Director for Research Resources
Maureen T. Long, Ph.D., – a distinguished UF professor and the Fern Audette Professor in Equine Diseases – has been appointed the EPI Associate Director for Research Resources.
Long is a professor in the UF College of Veterinary Medicine Department of Comparative, Diagnostic and Population Medicine. A large animal veterinarian by training, she joined UF as a board certified large animal internal medicine clinician. Her graduate training focused on emerging rickettsial and protozoal diseases, and she has continued to focus on emerging viral diseases of humans and animals. Her research program emphasizes development of animal models and the immune responses various arboviruses, including flaviviruses and alphaviruses. Her more recent research has focused on SARS-CoV-2 in humans and animals. Having researched diverse organisms and multiple viruses, Long’s expertise in diagnosis, surveillance and vaccines of these diseases has resulted in over 125 scientific manuscripts and book chapters.
As associate director for research resources, Long will evaluate and oversee the provision of resources, equipment and services open to EPI members. She will develop long-term strategies and models for the centralization of existing and future EPI research instrumentation and services. She will also advise and develop training courses and workshops targeting EPI members. Long’s visionary leadership and experience as an educator and scientist will build on the EPI’s scientific capability.
Shantrel Canidate appointed EPI Associate Director for Outreach and Community Partnerships
Shantrel Canidate, Ph.D., MPH, a social and behavioral epidemiologist and health equity researcher, joins the institute’s leadership team as the EPI Associate Director for Outreach and Community Partnerships. This role is dedicated to nurturing the internal relationships between multiple UF units, identifying opportunities for external partnerships and fostering research collaboration with Southeastern universities.
Canidate is an assistant professor in the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions Department of Epidemiology. In addition, she serves as a faculty member within the social and behavioral science program and the Southern HIV and Alcohol Research Consortium. Her research focuses on applying interdisciplinary approaches to identifying, understanding and addressing substance use and HIV-related health disparities among marginalized populations, such as men who have sex with men (MSM). Her work also aims to leverage electronic health records data through artificial intelligence and utilize causal inference approaches to identify biomedical and behavioral interventions that can reduce racial disparities in HIV care among marginalized populations.
As a double gator, Canidate received both her master’s in public health and a doctorate in public health from UF, specializing in social and behavioral sciences. She later completed a two-year T32 postdoctoral fellowship in the department of epidemiology with the UF Substance Abuse Training Center in Public Health. She is currently funded as a principal investigator through the first-ever Health Equity Scholars for Action grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and through a five-year K01 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Furthermore, Canidate was awarded a one-year research fellowship designed to improve diversity in artificial intelligence research from the inaugural Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity program. She is also funded as a co-investigator by the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse.
Derek Cummings appointed EPI Associate Director for Education and Graduate Programs
Infectious disease epidemiologist Derek Cummings, Ph.D., serves as the EPI Associate Director for Education and Graduate Programs. In this role, Cummings will oversee the development of interdisciplinary education and training programs at EPI with a focus on enhancing research opportunities for students and postdoctoral trainees.
Cummings is a professor in the UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department of Biology, and he holds an adjunct position in the UF Department of Epidemiology. In addition to his professorship at UF, Cummings also has an appointment at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. He conducts field, laboratory, theoretical and analytic research on infectious diseases across the world, including studies in Thailand, Brazil, Uganda, Kenya and China. Cummings leads NIH-funded research on SARS-CoV-2 in Brazil and is also co-PI of the Southeast Regional Center of Excellence funded by the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC).
Cummings’ research focuses on studying disease transmission and guiding public health responses to infectious disease outbreaks. Much of his research in temporal and spatial dynamics covers SARS-CoV-2, dengue, influenza, Zika and Ebola. Cummings has published over 30 papers covering topics related to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, including studies of transmission dynamics, mortality patterns and vaccine effectiveness studies. Since coming to UF in 2015, he has published over 100 papers in journals including Nature, Science, the New England Journal of Medicine and the Lancet. He has worked extensively on evaluating vaccines including work on fractional yellow fever vaccines and dengue vaccine.
As a mentor, Cummings has trained over 30 postdoctoral scholars and graduate students. His former students hold positions at academic institutions across the globe including Cambridge University, UCSF, Johns Hopkins and the University of North Carolina. Multiple past students have also taken positions in governmental or non-governmental organizations, including positions at the World Health Organization, the Institute for Disease Modeling and the National Institutes of Health.
Daniel Swale appointed EPI Associate Director for Training and Special Projects
Daniel Swale, Ph.D., joins the institute’s leadership team as the EPI Associate Director for Training and Special Projects. In this role, Swale will establish an EPI seminar series and function as the institute’s liaison to engage sponsored research program officers as part of the seminar series. He will also oversee the development and administration of high-quality research training programs, mentored research experiences and additional training opportunities for EPI faculty, staff and students.
Swale is an associate professor in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Department of Entomology and Nematology. Before his professorship at UF, he was an associate professor at Louisiana State University. Additionally, Swale serves as co-PI for the Southeast Regional Center of Excellence in Vector-borne Diseases and is associate director for the NSF-funded Center for Arthropod Management Technologies. His work is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Calibr at Scripps Research Institute.
Swale’s research centers on insect toxicology and the molecular physiology of arthropods, addressing hypotheses in model insects, arthropod vectors of human diseases and agriculture pests. His studies also specialize in the neurotoxicology of insecticides and herbicides, as well as the mechanisms of insecticide resistance. Moreover, his infectious disease research focuses on several arboviruses, including Zika and dengue. Swale has published nearly 50 papers, with over 200 presentations, covering a wide range of topics that aim to reduce the burden of arthropod pests and facilitate the discovery and development of novel mechanism insecticides, vaccines and genetic technologies.