Colleen Jonsson, PhD, has been selected by t he University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) as its new director of the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory (RBL).
The facility is dedicated to creating networks of collaborators to identify and solve problems in infectious disease research.
"By converging disciplines, we can create synergy around a topic, which hopefully leads to new perspectives and solutions," said Jonsson, who joined UTHSC in 2017.
Jonsson comes to UTHSC from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, where she was the director of the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis and Beaman Distinguished Professor of Microbiology. Previously, she served as director of the Center for Predictive Medicine for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, among other roles at the University of Louisville.
She said she hopes to use her experience to propel the UTHSC RBL and the campus forward. She has spent nearly 30 years studying highly pathogenic human viruses and an additional eight years studying plant infectious agents. Her work is represented in more than 100 publications and six patents.
The 30,315-square-foot RBL, constructed in 2009, enables research on pathogens responsible for naturally occurring common and emerging infectious diseases, such as multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, streptococci, influenza, West Nile, Zika, and equine encephalitic infections. The goal of the RBL is to enable drug discovery and translation of new antivirals, vaccines, and therapeutics to protect the general population from infectious diseases and bioterrorism.
Jonsson is hoping a new UTHSC institute focused on infectious disease research and the development of new treatments will enhance enthusiasm for drug discovery and development on campus.