Campus News

UGA professor to chair NIH proposal review committee

Rick Tarleton is the Athletic Association Distinguished Research Professor in the Biological Sciences. (Credit: Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

Athens, Ga. – Rick Tarleton, University of Georgia Distinguished Research Professor of Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, has been invited to chair the Immunity and Host Defense Study Section of the National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Review. Study section members are scientists in that field who review scientific grant proposals submitted to the NIH for funding. The two-year appointment is effective July 1.

Selection as chair of an NIH study section is based on demonstrated competence and achievement in a scientific discipline, as evidenced by the quality of research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals, and other significant scientific activities achievements and honors.

“Rick’s appointment comes at a critical time at the NIH and for extramural researchers seeking funding,” said Dan Colley, director of the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, and professor of microbiology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

“Budgets are tight, but at the same time, with the advent of genomes for many pathogens and their hosts, and heightened interest in global infectious diseases, the opportunities for major advances are expanding,” he said.

Since coming to UGA in 1984, Tarleton has studied the immunology and pathogenesis of Trypanosoma cruzi infection and the resulting disease syndrome known as Chagas disease. T. cruzi is a protozoan parasite that infects approximately 18 million people in Latin America with 90 million more at risk of infection. Chagas disease is the single most common cause of congestive heart failure and sudden death in the world and the leading cause of death among young-to-middle age adults in endemic areas of South America. There are no vaccines for prevention of T. cruzi infection and current chemotherapeutic regimens are of limited efficacy.

Tarleton was the founding director of the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases. He served as director for the NIH Tropical Disease Research Unit on Vaccine Development for Chagas Disease (1998-2003), and is founder and president of the Chagas Disease Foundation (2008-present). He was named the first UGA Athletic Association Distinguished Professor in the Biological Sciences in 2010.

UGA Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases
The University of Georgia Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases draws on a strong foundation of parasitology, immunology, cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry and genetics to develop medical and public health interventions for at-risk populations. Established in 1998, the center is comprised of 20 UGA faculty and their laboratories from three colleges and seven departments. Its goal is to promote international biomedical research and educational programs at UGA and throughout Georgia to address the parasitic and other tropical diseases that continue to threaten the health of people throughout the world. For more information about the center, see