Dr William Reeves, head of CDC CFS Research Program to take up new position

Dr William C Reeves, head of the CDC CFS Research Program to take up new position

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Facebook  |  29 January 2010

Change of leadership announced for CDC’s CFS Research Program

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that Dr. William C. Reeves, head of the agency’s CFS Research Program, will be taking a new position within the agency effective Feb. 14, 2010 and that he will no longer lead the agency’s CFS research. Dr. Elizabeth Unger will serve as acting chief of the Chronic Viral Diseases Branch, the unit within CDC that houses the CFS Research Program. On Feb. 14, Dr. Reeves will begin an assignment as Senior Advisor for Mental Health Surveillance in the Public Health Surveillance Program Office within the CDC’s Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services.

The CFIDS Association of America, other organizations and advocates have vocally supported new program leadership to effect a more robust research effort at CDC. This staffing change has the potential to significantly advance CFS research beyond the agency’s intramural program and to seize scientific momentum generated by recent discoveries. We are fully dedicated to making rapid progress in this new era of collaboration and discovery in CFS research.

K. Kimberly McCleary
President & CEO
The CFIDS Association of America

Comment from Mary Schweitzer via Co-Cure mailing list

I have never met Elizabeth Unger, and until her appoinment as the new head of the CDC’s program on CFS, I was familiar with her name only in relation to the CDC’s genome project on CFS.

However, I think it worth pointing out that Dr. Elizabeth Unger has mainly worked as a virologist, specializing in HPV (Human Papilloma virus).

The HPV program has been one of the few real success stories at CDC since AIDS. A generation ago, nobody knew about this virus – but once it was discovered, followed by the realization of its role in causing uterine and other cancers, the CDC did a very good job getting information out to young women. Ultimately, the goal was to develop a vaccine.

The distribution of the HPV vaccine has been controversial, but that should not concern us.

I think it will be great to have a virologist who has experience working with a disease about which little is known heading the CDC’s program. I am looking forward to seeing what Dr. Unger can accomplish.

Mary Schweitzer

As reported by Kelly, via Co-Cure mailing list

Bio of Dr. Elizabeth R. Unger

Like Dr. Suzanne Vernon now with the CFIDS Association, Dr. Elizabeth (Beth) R. Unger PhD, MD was originally doing research for the CDC in Human Papillomavirus Program which was under Dr. William C. Reeves.

A native of Pennsylvania, Dr. Elizabeth R. Unger received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Lebanon Valley College (Annville, PA). She received her doctorate in experimental pathology and medical degree from The University of Chicago. After completing her residency in anatomic pathology at The University of Chicago and The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Pennsylvania State University, she was certified by the American Board of Pathology in Anatomic Pathology.

She was a post-doctoral research fellow of the American Cancer Society and The W.W. Smith Charitable Trust in the pathology department of The M.S. Hershey Medical Center and joined the faculty of the Emory University School of Medicine as an academic surgical pathologist in 1990. While there she was involved in several studies associating EBV with various cancers.

She accepted a position at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1994 and became the Team Leader of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Program in the Viral Exanthems and Herpesvirus Branch of the Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Unger’s research interests have been in molecular diagnostics, viral oncogenesis and molecular epidemiology and she pioneered colorimetric in situ hybridization methods for detection of HPV in diagnostic samples. The HPV program utilizes a multidisciplinary team to conduct laboratory-based epidemiologic research to inform control strategies to reduce the incidence of new HPV infections as well as the major HPV-associated chronic diseases such as cervical cancer and recurrent respiratory papillomatosis. They worked with the National Cancer Institute’s Early Detection Research Network to discover and validate novel molecular markers to improve cervical cancer screening.

In 2000, she first appeared as an author on a CFS study. Chronic fatigue syndrome is not associated with expression of endogenous retroviral p15E. Gelman IH, Unger ER, Mawle AC, Nisenbaum R, Reeves WC.Mol Diagn. 2000 Jun;5(2):155-6.

Dr. Unger is a member of the College of American Pathologist’s Committee on Molecular Pathology and a founding member of the Association for Molecular Pathology. She is on the Council of the American Society for Investigative Pathology and The Histochemical Society as well as a principle scientist with the American Society of Microbiology. She has served as an advisor to the FDA and WHO on HPV testing and vaccine issues. She is on the editorial board of four journals including Technology in Cancer Research and Treatment.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1600 Clifton Rd Mail Stop G41, NE
Atlanta, GA 30333.
Div. of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases
E: eru0@cdc.gov

Update at 1 February:

Kelly notes via correction on Co-Cure (31.01.10)

Dr. Unger actually began work at Emory University in 1986 and for 11 years, where she was an assistant, then associate, professor in the department of pathology and laboratory medicine at Emory University. In 1997, she joined the CDC’s staff as section chief, molecular pathology laboratory in the Viral Exanthems and Herpesvirus Branch within the National Center for Infectious Diseases.

Thread here on Cort Johnson’s Bulletin Boards:
Dr. Reeves Removed from the CDC’s CFS Research Program

Also write-up here:
Dr. Reeves Removed from the CDC’s CFS Research Program