By Laura Lockard, College of Veterinary Medicine
He succeeds Guy Palmer who stepped down last year to assume a larger role as WSU’s senior director of global health. Palmer promotes both the WSU veterinary college and broader WSU interests as part of the university’s development of a medical school and its Grand Challenge of Sustaining Health (https://research.wsu.edu/research-initiatives/grand-challenges/).
Interim director Doug Call will resume his role as associate director for research and graduate education in the Allen School and continue his role in directing WSU’s initiative in combating antimicrobial resistance.
“I am drawn by both the mission and the interdisciplinary approach of the Allen School to provide innovative solutions to global health challenges that result at the interface of animals, humans and their shared environment,” said Kawula. “As the founding director of the Allen School, Guy Palmer assembled an outstanding group of research scientists, clinicians, economists and epidemiologists to tackle some of the most complicated infectious disease challenges that we face.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join this talented group,” he said, “and I hope that my experiences in interdisciplinary research, education and training will help us achieve our shared goal of improving animal and human health.”
Kawula and his wife Carol grew up in Moscow, Idaho, and are graduates of the University of Idaho where Tom received B.S. and M.S. degrees. After earning a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology at the University of North Carolina, a post-doctoral fellowship at North Carolina State’s College of Veterinary Medicine and his first faculty position at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, he has been in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UNC’s medical school for most of his career.
Kawula’s research focuses on how bacterial diseases develop. More specifically, he works with the northern hemisphere disease Tularemia, known by some as rabbit fever. Caused by the bacteria Francisella tularensis, it can spread to humans and is of global importance.
Kawula also brings experience in leading programs that promote undergraduate engagement in research and innovation in graduate education.
The bacterium is highly virulent for humans, requiring only a dozen or so of the microorganisms to cause disease. It infects a wide range of animal species including rodents, hares and deer. It is spread to humans in a variety of ways, mostly through direct contact with infected animals or ticks.
Its highly infectious nature and ability to be weaponized places it on the list of select agents monitored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Globally, the disease is known to occur in the U.S., throughout northern Europe and Asia.
Laura Lockard, WSU College of Veterinary Medicine communications, 206-861-6884, firstname.lastname@example.org