Director’s Message

Dr. Morris poses in a lab coat with his arms crossed. Behind him a picture of a mosquito
Dr. J. Glenn Morris, Jr., Emerging Pathogens Institute Director. (Bernard Brzezinski)

Welcome to the University of Florida Emerging Pathogens Institute (EPI)

Founded in 2006, EPI is an interdisciplinary institute dedicated to understanding why pathogenic microorganisms emerge – and re-emerge – as important causes of disease.  We deal with human, animal and plant pathogens, with work ranging from basic molecular genetic studies to in vitro and in vivo assessment of pathogen characteristics, transmission, clinical manifestations, treatment and disease prevention. As the recent COVID pandemic has so dramatically demonstrated, pathogens are constantly evolving, often with the potential for causing global outbreaks of disease. 

EPI serves as a source of scientific excellence for Florida, the United States and the world, providing a setting in which we can gain an optimal understanding of the factors driving the emergence of pathogens and develop knowledge critical for disease prevention and control.

In keeping with its status as an interdisciplinary research institute, EPI is not part of one of the existing UF colleges, but, rather, answers administratively to the UF Vice President of Research. Faculty from any college can become members of the institute, and students from any college can become associate members. EPI currently has over 250 members at a faculty level, drawn from 11 UF colleges, drawing investigators from a variety of different disciplines.  Members include microbiologists, physicians, veterinarians, public health specialists, mathematical modelers, genetic bioinformaticians, entomologists, biologists, plant pathologists and medical geographers.

The Emerging Pathogens Institute is located immediately adjacent to UF Health Shands Hospital, the flagship teaching hospital of University of Florida, and the six health colleges, including the Small Animal and Large Animal Hospitals of the UF Veterinary College, our EPI investigators have immediate access to patients (both two-legged and four-legged) and clinicians. Florida, with its tropical climate, provides a unique setting for research on tropical diseases, including vector-borne diseases such as dengue, Zika and chikungunya.  Spread of pathogens, however, is not constrained by state or national borders, and consequently EPI also has a strong international presence, with field sites and collaborators in the Caribbean, South America, Africa and Asia. 

Activities are concentrated in the EPI building, which houses 50 faculty members and their students and laboratories. In addition to the core building is an adjacent building for work with fish and shellfish pathogens.  The core building includes specialized biocontainment facilities, as well as a dedicated bioinformatics space. Furthermore, the institute houses the CDC Southeastern Regional Center of Excellence in Vector-borne Diseases, the CDC Southeastern National Tuberculosis Center (SNTC) and the Southern HIV and Alcohol Research Consortium (SHARC). 

EPI is an exciting place to work, with world-class research projects and great opportunities for faculty and students.  As you browse through the EPI website you can get a feel for current activities, and we look forward to having you join us on our research journey.

J. Glenn Morris, Jr., MD, MPH & TM

Director, Emerging Pathogens Institute