February 20, 2023 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Melissa Nolan, assistant professor of epidemiology, has been selected to serve on the Forum on Microbial Threats for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Comprised of nearly 30 members, the forum convenes leaders from government agencies, industry, academia and nonprofit/philanthropic organizations to discuss critical scientific and policy concerns related to infectious diseases.
Dr. Nolan has a broad range of experiences and knowledge and skills underlying microbial threats and the ability to discuss them across diverse populations. She also has the scientific knowledge needed to interact with policy folks and the general public.
-Donald Mattison, Health Sciences Distinguished Professor and a member of the National Academy of Medicine
The forum issued a call in early 2022 for nominations to fill two positions with expertise in 1) plant pathology and 2) infectious disease diagnostics. Nolan, who is internationally renown for her work in zoonoses (particularly Chagas disease, tick-borne illnesses and SARS-CoV-2), was the perfect candidate for the infectious disease role.
“The National Academies is interested in identifying individuals with skills relevant to defining exploring, communicating and answering specific biological questions,” says Health Sciences Distinguished Professor Donald Mattison, who is a member of the Academy of Medicine (one of only four in the state) and who joined the Arnold School’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in 2021 to bolster USC’s relationship with the National Academies by fostering faculty connections like this one. “Dr. Nolan has a broad range of experiences and knowledge and skills underlying microbial threats and the ability to discuss them across diverse populations. She also has the scientific knowledge needed to interact with policy folks and the general public.”
Established in 1996, the Forum on Microbial Threats was created at the at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. Their focus on emerging/reemerging infectious diseases in humans, plants and animals includes research, prevention, detection, surveillance and response. Its members facilitate cross-sector dialogue and collaboration using private consultation and public debate.
Invitation into membership is a long, deliberative process, according to Mattison, who has worked with the National Academies for five decades. This selective approach ensures a scientific group with diverse perspectives.
“Despite decades of progress, the need for the Forum on Microbial Threats remains,” the National Academies write on their website. “Problems such as MERS, Ebola, Chikungunya, Zika, yellow fever, and antibiotic resistance demonstrate how the issue of emerging infections is global and unrelenting. The Forum convenes several times each year to identify and discuss key problems and strategies in the area of microbial threats.”