Emory National Primate Research Center Director Announces Leadership Appointments

May 15, 2023

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Lisa Newbern

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R. Paul Johnson, MD, Director of the Emory National Primate Research Center (EPC), recently announced three leadership appointments.

Thomas Wichmann, MD, is now the Deputy Director of the EPC. Dr. Wichmann joined the center in 2004 and has served as Associate Director for Scientific Programs since 2017. As Deputy Director, he will work closely with Dr. Johnson and other center leaders to oversee EPC activities, including center operations and strategic planning, as well as faculty development, promotions and recruitment. Dr. Wichmann will also continue his well-funded Parkinson's disease research at the EPC while holding other leadership roles, including serving as Principal Investigator of the Morris K. Udall Center of Excellence in Parkinson's Disease ResearchandAssociate Director of the Emory Movement Disorder Division. In addition to his research, he is an accomplished physician who exemplifies the translation of basic science research to clinical care. Read more about Dr. Wichmann Read more about Dr. Wichmann.

Rama Amara, PhD, will serve as the new EPC Associate Director for Research Strategy. Dr. Amara, who has been with the center for more than 20 years, is known worldwide for his expertise in developing vaccines against infectious diseases, such as HIV, SARS-CoV-2, HCV, TB and influenza, with mouse and nonhuman primate models. When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, he quickly led his team to develop COVID-19 vaccines based on their extensive HIV/AIDS vaccine work. In his new administrative role, Dr. Amara will work with EPC leadership to advance the center's research, including efforts related to strategic planning, faculty recruitment, instrument procurement and pilot research programs. He will continue to serve as co-leader of the $28.5 million, five-year, Emory Consortium for Innovative HIV/AIDS Vaccine and Cure Research in Nonhuman Primates, which was recently renewed for the second time. Read more about Dr. Amara.

Mirko Paiardini, PhD, will serve as the new Division Chief for Microbiology and Immunology. Dr. Paiardini has been a valued colleague since his recruitment to the EPC in 2010. He has studied simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected nonhuman primates for more than 20 years. His initial research focused on studies to better understand and treat HIV/AIDS, and his more recent work examines approaches to HIV cure. Dr. Paiardini and his Emory colleagues recently received a five-year, $23.8 million NIH grant to advance research to cure HIV infection. The Enterprise for Research and Advocacy to Stop and Eradicate HIV (ERASE HIV) was one of only 10 Martin Delaney Collaboratories for HIV Cure the NIH awarded in 2021 and the only one researchers at a National Primate Research Center are leading. In his new Division Chief role, Dr. Paiardini will help guide future scientific directions for the M&I Division, including the recruitment of new faculty members, support the career development of junior investigators and work closely with the other division chiefs and associate directors to advance research at the EPC. Read more about Dr. Paiardini.

These promotions further position the EPC for continued scientific advances that will ultimately improve human and animal health.

Dedicated to discovering causes, preventions, treatments and cures, the Emory National Primate Research Center (EPC), part of Emory University's Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center, is fighting diseases and improving human health and lives worldwide. The center, one of only seven NPRCs the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds, is supported by more than $100 million in research funding (all sources, fiscal year 2022). EPC researchers are making landmark discoveries in: microbiology and immunology; neurologic diseases; neuropharmacology; behavioral, cognitive and developmental neuroscience; and psychiatric disorders. Since 1984, the center has been fully accredited by AAALAC International, regarded as the gold seal of approval for laboratory animal care.

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