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HAMMOND – One of the nation's leading experts in the field of bioterrorism will present a lecture to Southeastern Louisiana University students and faculty at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 28, at the Student Union Theatre.
Gerald "Jerry" P. Jaax, a former U.S. Army veterinarian who was a key participant in dealing with the 1989 Reston Ebola outbreak – in which a mutant strain of the deadly Ebola virus was isolated at a research facility close to Washington, DC – will speak on "Bioterrorism and infectious disease: an 'emerging' problem?" The outbreak incident is detailed in Richard Preston's best-selling book "The Hot Zone."
The presentation is sponsored by the Southeastern Graduate Student Organization of the Department of Biological Sciences and is free and open to the public.
"We are pleased to have a scientist of the caliber of Dr. Jaax visit Southeastern and interact directly with our students," said Biology Professor Nick Norton, who conducted research with Jaax at Fort Detrick, Md. "He is a professional who has worked on the front lines of bioterrorism and who knows the threats and potential threats that bioterrorism can present. Anyone interested in understanding more about this very topical issue would appreciate his presentation."
"The biology graduate students are very honored that Dr. Jaax has accepted our invitation to speak at Southeastern," said Jillian Gautreaux, graduate teaching fellow and president of the Biology Graduate Student Organization "We look forward to hearing about his personal experiences with the Ebola virus, as well as his research in bioterrorism and infectious disease. These topics are very relative in today's world, so it should make for a thrilling experience."
Currently associate vice president for research compliance at Kansas State University, Jaax previously served 26 years with the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps. His assignments included chief of veterinary medicine and laboratory support at the Army Medical Research Institute for Chemical Defense at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and chief of veterinary medicine at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick. There Detrick, he also directed of the Biological Arms Control Treaty Office, where he was responsible for the Army's overall compliance with international biological warfare laws, treaties and agreements.
Jaax has been an invited speaker for several hundred presentations focusing on emerging infectious disease management and response and on issues involving bioterrorism, especially as it applies to the nation's agricultural infrastructure. He has provided expert testimony before the U.S. House and Senate Armed Services Committee and other Congressional bodies. Jaax received his bachelor's degree and doctorate in veterinary medicine from Kansas State University.