New York State Commissioner of Health Announces Winners of Four Prestigious Awards

Staff directors receive international and national recognition

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 15, 2017 - New York State Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker today announced that a director at the Wadsworth Laboratories Center has received an international award from the Pan American Society for Clinical Virology (PASCV), and another three have been nationally recognized by the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL).

Kirsten St. George, PhD, Director of the Virology Laboratory, received the PASCV's 2017 Diagnostic Virology Award, which acknowledges an individual whose contributions to viral diagnosis have had a major impact on the discipline. PASCV is an international organization that advances clinical virology testing through research, quality assurance and training. The 2017 Diagnostic Virology award was presented at the recent Clinical Virology Symposium in Savannah, GA.

The three APHL awardees are:

  • Michele Caggana, ScD, FACMG, Deputy Director of the Division of Genetics and Director of the Newborn Screening Program, who received a 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award;
  • Christina Egan, PhD, Director of the Biodefense Laboratory, who received a 2017 Leadership in Biosafety and Biosecurity Award and;
  • Kimberlee Musser, PhD, Director of the Bacteriology Laboratory, who received a 2017 Gold Standard Award.

APHL is a national organization based in Silver Spring, MD that represents state and local governmental health labs. Award recipients were honored at the APHL Annual Meeting in Providence, R.I. on June 13.

"These four scientists exemplify the caliber of the research and testing performed at the state laboratories, and I am thrilled to see them getting the national and international recognition they deserve," Dr. Zucker said. "I applaud them for their commitment and contributions to the science of public health and congratulate them for these awards."

"It is always a thrill to see scientists at Wadsworth receiving the recognition they deserve, but to have four people being recognized so close in time is truly an honor," said Jill Taylor, PhD, Director of Wadsworth Center. "These awards are simply more evidence of the incredibly talented scientists we have here. I'd like to congratulate all four awardees on their latest accomplishment."

Dr. St. George began her career in Australia and received her doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh, where she developed methods for the early detection of viral infections in transplant recipients. These tests led to prophylactic and preemptive therapy regimens with a dramatic reduction of fatality rates in high-risk patients. Dr. St. George joined the Wadsworth Center in 2004. She is also a clinical professor in biomedical sciences at the UAlbany School of Public Health.

Dr. Caggana joined the Wadsworth Center in 1996 after graduating from the Harvard School of Public Health. She did her postdoctoral training in immunology and molecular virology at Wadsworth Center, where she was a research affiliate in the molecular genetics program. She was an associate in the Diagnostic Training Program at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where she achieved board eligibility in clinical molecular genetics. Dr. Caggana is chief of the Laboratory of Human Genetics and was appointed as director of the Newborn Screening Program in 2006. She is also head of the Genetic Testing Section for the Clinical Laboratory Evaluation Program and is a member of the faculty at the Wadsworth School of Laboratory Sciences.

Dr. Egan received her doctorate in pharmacology and neuroscience at Albany Medical College in 1997 and did her postdoctoral training at Albany Medical College and Wadsworth Center as a research fellow in the Emerging Infectious Disease program offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the APHL. She was appointed as the director of the Biodefense Laboratory in 2011. She serves on the faculty of the Wadsworth School of Laboratory Sciences and is an assistant professor in biodefense at the UAlbany School of Public Health.

Dr. Musser graduated from Albany Medical College in 1998 with a doctorate in pharmacology and neuroscience. She did her postdoctoral training at Wadsworth as a research fellow in the Emerging Infectious Disease program offered by the CDC and the APHL. Dr. Musser was appointed director of the Bacteriology Laboratory in 2007. Dr. Musser is also an assistant professor of biomedical sciences at the UAlbany School of Public Health.

Wadsworth Center is one of the nation's premier public health labs and is operated by the New York State Department of Health. The lab is committed to protecting and improving the health of New Yorkers through laboratory analysis, investigations and research, as well as laboratory certification and educational programs.