Dr. Deborah L. Birx, M.D., has spent her first career serving the United States, as an Army Colonel and later, running some of the most high-profile and influential programs at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of State. Most recently, Dr. Birx served as the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, where she made recommendations to the Vice President using complex data integration to drive decision-making, as well as worked closely with state officials across the country to provide state-specific advice and guidance. In 2014, Dr. Birx became an Ambassador-at-Large, when she assumed the role of the Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy. Dr. Birx is a world renowned medical expert and leader whose long career has focused on clinical and basic immunology, infectious disease, pandemic preparedness, vaccine research, and global health. As the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, she oversaw the spending of the $6 billion annual budget of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease in history, as well as all U.S. Government engagement with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
She is dedicated to program improvement and change management to increase the health impact of every dollar spent; she has spent a lifetime mentoring young women in the Federal Government and translating science into effective implementation.
In 1985, Dr. Birx began her career with the Department of Defense (DoD) as a military trained clinician in immunology, focusing on HIV/AIDS vaccine research. Through her professionalism and leadership in the field, she progressed to serve as the Director of the U.S. Military HIV Research Program (USMHRP) at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research from 1996-2005. Dr. Birx lead one of the most influential HIV vaccine trials in history (known as RV 144 or the Thai trial), which provided the first supporting evidence of any vaccine’s potential effectiveness in preventing HIV infection. During this time, she also rose to the rank of Colonel, bringing together the Navy, Army, and Air Force in a new model of cooperation – increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the U.S. Military’s HIV/AIDS efforts through inter- and intra-agency collaboration. Then known as Colonel Birx, she was awarded two prestigious U.S. Meritorious Service Medals and the Legion of Merit Award for her groundbreaking research, leadership and management skills during her tenure at the DoD.
From 2005-2014, Dr. Birx served successfully as the Director of CDC’s Division of Global HIV/AIDS (DGHA) in the CDC Center for Global Health, where she utilized her leadership qualities, superior technical skills, and infectious passion to achieve tremendous public health impact. As DGHA Director, she led the implementation of CDC’s PEPFAR programs around the world and managed an annual budget of more than $1.5 billion. Dr. Birx was responsible for all of the agency’s global HIV/AIDS activities, including providing oversight to more than 1900 staff, and more than 50 country and regional offices in Africa, Asia, Caribbean, and Latin America. Recognized for her distinguished and dedicated commitment to building local capacity and strengthening quality laboratory health services and systems in Africa, in 2011, Dr. Birx received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the African Society for Laboratory Medicine. In 2014, CDC honored her leadership in advancing the agency’s HIV/AIDS response with the highly prestigious William C. Watson, Jr. Medal of Excellence.
Dr. Birx is known for driving implementation improvements to increase impact and has spent a career increasing overall effectiveness of programs through change management. Dr. Birx has published over 230 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals, authored nearly a dozen chapters in scientific publications, as well as developed and patented vaccines. She received her medical degree from the Hershey School of Medicine, Pennsylvania State University, and beginning in 1980 she trained in internal medicine and basic and clinical immunology at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Birx is board certified in internal medicine, allergy and immunology, and diagnostic and clinical laboratory immunology.