Vaccine expert at UMass Medical School tapped to advise Department of Defense on prevention and treatment of infectious diseases

February 15, 2005

WORCESTER, Mass. — Francis A. Ennis, MD, an internationally-recognized researcher into the causes and prevention of infectious diseases such as AIDS and smallpox, has been elected a board member of   the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board (AFEB). Established in 1943, AFEB is a scientific advisory committee to the Department of Defense through the Assistant Secretary of Defense – Health Affairs. For over 50 years the civilian physicians and scientists who have served on the AFEB have contributed to numerous advances in the prevention and control of diseases and injuries among military men and women, as well as advancing medical science and health for the entire nation.

Dr. Ennis will serve a two year term on the Subcommittee on Infectious Disease Prevention and Control (SIDPC), one of four AFEB subcommittees. The Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Subcommittee focuses on operational programs, policy development, and research programs and needs for infectious disease control in the Armed Forces by providing the latest scientific evaluations and recommendations concerning immunizations, chemoprophylaxis and therapy, as well as disease surveillance, prevention and control. Ennis and fellow SIDPC members will be particularly focused on protecting military personnel against infectious diseases used as potential bioterrorism threats.

Dr. Ennis is director of the Center for Infectious Disease and Vaccine Research (CIDVR) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS), where he is also professor of medicine and molecular genetics & microbiology. His research projects, many of which are supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), include HIV Vaccine Design & Development, and Human T Cell Response to Novel Smallpox Vaccines. In 2003 NIAID named UMMS a “Cooperative Center for Translational Research on Human Immunology and Biodefense.” Under Ennis’ direction the center, funded by a $16 million grant, is one of five in the nation selected to seek a better understanding of the human immune response to potential agents of bioterror and rapid development of countermeasures such as vaccines and therapies.

A graduate of the Tufts University School of Medicine, Ennis was an assistant professor of medicine and co-director of Infectious Disease at University Hospital in Boston, director of the Division of Virology, Bureau of Biologics, for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and a clinical professor of medicine at George Washington University Medical Center prior to coming to UMMS in 1982. In 1997 he was appointed founding director of UMMS’ newly-established CIDVR.

The University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research. The Medical School attracts more than $167 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. UMMS is the academic partner of UMass Memorial Health Care, the largest health care provider in Central Massachusetts. For more information visit www.umassmed.edu

Contact:Sandra Gray, (508) 856-2000, sandra.gray@umassmed.edu