Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson recently announced the appointment of Gerald W. Parker, D.V.M., Ph.D., along with 27 other new members, to the Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee (HSSTAC). The HSSTAC provides scientific and technical advice to the Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary for Science and Technology on matters related to the expansion of technological capabilities across the homeland security enterprise.
Parker, associate vice president for public health preparedness and response at the Texas A&M Health Science Center and interim director of the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD), a DHS Science and Technology Center of Excellence headquartered at Texas A&M AgriLife Research, has been in federal public service for 35 years—nine years as a senior executive with the Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), plus 26 years of active duty in the Army Medical Department. Prior to joining the Texas A&M Health Science Center, Parker was the DOD’s deputy assistant secretary for chemical and biological defense from 2010–2013, where he was responsible for developing national strategies and capabilities to protect United States service members from emerging infectious disease and biological and chemical threats. From 2005–2010, Parker was the principal deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response at HHS and helped lead and coordinate new federal medical and public health preparedness initiatives, as well as emergency responses to natural disasters ranging from hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma to Gustov and Ike, as well as the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic and the Haiti earthquake.
He also serves as principal investigator for the Texas A&M Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing, one of three national centers established in June 2012 by HHS to enhance the nation’s emergency preparedness against emerging infectious diseases, including pandemic influenza and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. Parker is an ex officio member of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense—formed to evaluate the nation’s preparedness against bioterrorism and potentially catastrophic emerging infectious disease outbreaks.
Parker was appointed to HSSTAC’s Chemical and Biological Defense field. HSSTAC members are selected from disciplines with the following fields of expertise: organizational strategy and management, first responders, cybersecurity/risk, cross-cutting technical expertise, and chemical and biological defense. The 28 new HSSTAC members will join the six current members on the committee. All members serve two-year terms.
Parker holds a doctorate of veterinary medicine from Texas A&M University, a doctorate in physiology from Baylor College of Medicine and a master’s degree in resourcing the national strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He is a recipient of the 2009 Distinguished Executive Presidential Rank Award and the Secretary of Defense Medal for Civilian Meritorious Service.
About the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases: Headquartered in College Station, Texas, IIAD was founded in 2004 as a DHS Science and Technology Center of Excellence. The Institute focuses on research, education and outreach to prevent, detect, mitigate and recover from transboundary, emerging and/or zoonotic diseases, which may be introduced intentionally or through natural processes. In 2014, IIAD was recognized by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as a collaborating centre in the specialty of biological threat reduction. IIAD is the only centre of this kind in OIE’s America’s region and the only OIE collaborating centre within the Texas A&M University System. For more information, visit iiad.tamu.edu.