Beckham transitions to full-time director of the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases

COLLEGE STATION — Dr. Tammy Beckham, who has been director of the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory since 2008, will transition into a full-time role as director of the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases, effective immediately.

Leadership of the institute was added to Beckham’s duties in 2010. The institute and diagnostic lab are part of Texas A&M AgriLife, headquartered in College Station.

The institute was founded in 2004 as a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Center of Excellence. It 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.

Under her direction, the institute implemented a leadership strategy modeled by other DHS Centers of Excellence. Her guidance has resulted in new partnerships, an increased focus on technology transition and recognition of IIAD as a collaborating center in the specialty of biological threat reduction for the World Organization for Animal Health.

“Dr. Beckham has done a great job while serving in multiple demanding roles,” said Dr. Craig Nessler, Texas A&M AgriLife Research director in College Station. “However, the institute’s portfolio has expanded greatly under her leadership, and we are very excited about the future of the institute with her being able to devote her full attention to it.”

During her administration, the institute has become a lead performer for DHS in developing novel assays and validating new sample matrices under the agricultural screening tools project. In addition, her efforts have increased the institute’s funding to build upon technologies developed under the DHS Office of University Programs cooperative agreement. Since 2010, the institute has brought in nearly $15 million in contracts beyond DHS and U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperative agreements.

The institute’s AgConnect suite, developed under her leadership, was expanded to include the Enhanced Passive Surveillance and business continuity components, two novel innovations supporting U.S. agricultural industries’ preparedness and response efforts.

“Dr. Beckham’s leadership in expanding the institute’s reputation and influence is largely responsible for the institute’s continued growth and success,” said Dr. Matt Clark, director of the DHS Office of University Programs. “Her ability to apply novel solutions to prevent and treat deadly animal diseases, combined with her ability to build powerful coalitions among domestic and international government agencies, producers and commercial partners, are why Texas A&M has been a DHS Center of Excellence for 10 years.”

“The institute has grown tremendously during the last four years,” Beckham said. “This team has incredible potential, and we’ve been able to develop strong partnerships with industry, state animal health officials and federal partners. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to serve in this role in a full-time capacity and continue to expand the tools and technologies that serve to protect our livestock and public health sectors – both nationally and globally.”

Prior to joining the Texas A&M University System, Beckham served as director of the Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory with USDA, a part of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York. Her responsibilities included managing the diagnosis of animal diseases, overseeing diagnostic test development for a nationwide animal health diagnostic system, and coordinating efforts with DHS, the National Animal Health Laboratory Network and other entities.

Beckham is a magna cum laude graduate of Auburn University, where she earned her doctor of veterinary medicine degree in 1998. She also holds a doctorate in biomedical science from Auburn, received in 2001 while she served as a captain in the U.S. Army. She served at the Army’s Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases in Frederick, Maryland, where she helped develop improved techniques for detecting deadly pathogens such as Ebola and Marburg viruses.

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