Dr. Glenn Morris became the director of the Emerging Pathogen Institute in August 2007. He was recruited from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, where he was a professor and chairman of the department of epidemiology and preventive medicine in the university’s school of medicine, as well as an interim dean of the school of public health. In addition to his position as EPI director, Dr. Morris is a professor of infectious diseases in the UF College of Medicine.
Morris has worked in public health and pathogen related fields for more than 30 years, and has had a continuing fascination with emerging pathogens. At EPI, Morris has helped to shape the creative vision behind a web of campus-wide projects to anticipate, understand and control the emergence of new, disease-causing microorganisms.
“Understanding why and how new pathogens emerge requires a multidisciplinary approach, with the ability to move from basic genetics to global public health. My goal is to bring faculty together to build a strong interdisciplinary spirit and to play on each other’s strengths. If you put them all together in one room and close the door, it is amazing what can happen.”Morris said.
Morris started his public health career at the Centers for Disease Control where he was an epidemic intelligence service officer and focused his attention upon cholera and other water- and food-borne illnesses. He has served on four National Academy of Sciences expert committees dealing with food safety, and in the mid-1990s he worked with the Food Safety Inspection Service in the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the first major revision of food safety regulations since 1906; he currently is a member of the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine.
Morris also plays a key role in linking EPI with collaborative partners in Florida, the broader U.S., and international agencies. “New diseases do not respect borders, “ Morris says. “To be able to predict when a disease will threaten Florida, one has to have a national and global perspective.” Under his leadership, and with funding from the World Health Organization, the Gates Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, EPI has developed collaborations with investigators in Africa, Asia, Europe (including portions of the former Soviet Union), and South and Central America.
Current research initiatives at EPI include work with vector-borne diseases (Zika, malaria, dengue, West Nile, equine encephalitis, citrus greening, tuberculosis, multi-antibiotic resistant bacteria [such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus or MRSA] and many others), and food safety and diarrheal infections (including cholera and E. coli O157:H7). Studies range from evolutionary genetics to the use of real-world data and bioinformatics to develop predictive mathematical models for disease transmission within populations.
Morris received his B.A. from Rice University in 1973, and both his M.D. and a master’s degree in public health and tropical medicine from Tulane University in 1977. He is board certified in both internal medicine and infectious diseases.