A Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE)

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), "Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) support thematic, multidisciplinary centers that augment and strengthen institutional biomedical research capacity." COBREs are led by NIH-funded investigators with expertise in the areas that are integral to the grant's main research themes. 

The TGIR-COBRE aims to decrease the burden of global infectious diseases, particularly in low-income countries and has two major objectives. The first is to develop institutional strengths in global infectious disease research. The second is to develop the research careers of outstanding junior faculty in this field, under the mentorship of scientific advisors from three UVM colleges and five departments. A particular focus will be to train biomedical and quantitative data scientists so that these two traditionally distinct groups of investigators can collaborate and communicate effectively in the new era of big data. By leveraging existing strengths at the University of Vermont, the TGIR-COBRE will bridge the gap between the biologic and quantitative data fields of biomedical research to create a robust, well-organized academic home for the COBRE junior faculty and their mentors, as well as other faculty interested in global infectious diseases. 

TGIR Research Project Leaders

Jessica Crothers, MD


Jess Crothers, MD woman smiling

Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Project:Mucosal immunity to polio virus is modified by the gut microbiota, dependent upon cytotoxic cellular responses and can be enhanced via intradermal administration of a mucosally-adjuvanted inactivated polio vaccine (dmLT-IPV)"

Laurent Hébert-Dufresne, PhD


Laurent Hebert-Dufesne, PhD, Headshot

Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences 

Project:  “Network epidemiology and the quantification of behavioral interventions.” This project focuses on understanding how behavioral versus biologic factors determine the spread of Ebola.

Benjamin Lee, MD


Benjamin Lee, MD, headshot

Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics 

Project:Development of B cell responses and serological immunity following oral rotavirus vaccination in infants.” Seeks to characterize key correlates of protective immunity post-vaccination, focusing on children in settings in which oral rotavirus vaccination has poor efficacy. 

TGIR Pilot Award Faculty

Emily Bruce, PhD

Research Scientist, Division of Immunobiology, Department of Medicine

Project: "Virological and immunological detection of SARS-CoV-2 exposure"

Nick Cheney, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences 

Project: "A Natural Language Processing Pipeline to Automatically Predict Human Behavioral Responses to Viral Epidemics like Ebola and COVID-19"

R. Chase Cockrell, PhD

Assistant Professor, Division of Surgical Research, Department of Surgery

Project: "Machine Learning for Agent-Based Modeling of Adaptive Immunity"

Sarah Nowak, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine

Project: "Perception of risk, behavior, and COVID transmission dynamics"

Markus Thali, PhD

Professor, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

Project: "Alveolar epithelial cell-based air-liquid interface to study SARS-CoV-2 biology and pathogenesis"

TGIR Leadership 

Beth Kirkpatrick, MD, FASTMH, FIDSA

Chris Huston, MD

Beth Kirkpatrick, MD, Headshot

Principal Investigator/Director
  • Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease
  • Director, Vaccine Testing Center
  • Chairperson, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

Dr. Kirkpatrick obtained a B.S. in Biology and Political Science at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, and her Doctor of Medicine from Albany Medical College in Albany, New York. Her Residency and Chief Residency in Internal Medicine were done at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York. Dr. Kirkpatrick completed her Infectious Disease Fellowship at John's Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland in 1999. She founded the Vaccine Testing Center (VTC) in 2001 and continues to serve as Director.



Chris Huston, MD, headshot

Co-Principal Investigator

  • Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease

Dr. Huston received a B.A. in Physics from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and his Doctor of Medicine from Cornell University Medical College in New York, NY in 1994. He did his internship, residency and was chief resident in medicine at the University of Vermont Medical Center (then called Medical Center Hospital of Vermont).  His infectious diseases clinical fellowship and a post-doctoral fellowship in microbiology/parasitology were done at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center. Dr. Huston joined the UVM Infectious Disease Faculty in 2003 and became a faculty team member at the Vaccine Testing Center in 2015.

Jason H.T. Bates, PhD

Kristen Pierce, MD

Jason Bates, PhD, headshot

Co-Principal Investigator
Director, MCP Core
  • Professor: Departments of Medicine, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, Electrical & Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Bates obtained his B.Sc. in Physics at the University of Canterbury in 1977 and his Ph.D. in Medicine in 1981 from the University of Otago, both in New Zealand. He is currently Professor of Medicine, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, and Electrical & Biomedical Engineering at the University of Vermont. Dr. Bates is also Deputy Editor for the Journal of Applied Physiology, a Fellow of AIMBE and BMES, and a Senior Member of IEEE-EMBS.



Dr. Kristen Pierce Headshot

Director, HPR Core

  • Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease

Dr. Pierce began her studies with  B.A in Humanities from the University of Colorado. She obtained her Doctor of Medicine from the University of Vermont in 2003, where she also did her Residency in Internal Medicine and completed a Fellowship in Infectious Disease. Dr. Pierce began her work with the Vaccine Testing Center in 2008.