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Dr. Rayner received his Ph.D. in Microbiology at Colorado State University (CSU) in 1998 as part of the Arthropod-borne and Infectious Diseases Laboratory where he studied the factors influencing vector-competence for yellow fever virus and dengue viruses (DENV). He then completed two post-doctoral research programs with the American Society for Microbiology/National Centers for Infectious Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Arthropod-borne Infectious Diseases where he studied the role of non-structural protein mutations on attenuation of DENV-2; and the National Research Council at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases where he evaluated the use of a replicon based vaccine platform based on the genome of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) for vaccine development. Dr. Rayner continued his research on the VEEV replicon system as a Research Scientist at AlphaVax, Inc., where he was specifically responsible for optimizing the platform and developing vaccines targeting infectious diseases and cancer. After transferring to MRIGlobal, Dr. Rayner received extensive training in Good Laboratory Practice (21 CFR Part 58), ISO 9001, and Program Management; and served as Principal Investigator (PI), Program Manager, and Study Director on several large Department of Defense contracts to determine the bioweapons threat posed by neurovirulent alphaviruses and flaviviruses; as well as numerous commercial contracts to assess the efficacy of pre- and post-exposure therapies and stability and safety of candidate vaccines. Dr. Rayner joined Southern Research in 2012 as the Director of Infectious Disease Research and served as PI on multiple contracts/subcontracts with the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Develop Authority, and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency to develop and implement animal models and assays to advance new medical interventions targeting multiple infectious diseases including but not limited to anthrax, melioidosis, glanders, plague, tularemia, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, eastern equine encephalitis, western equine encephalitis; chickungunya, influenza and Zika. Dr. Rayner also served as PI on several large clinical trials to evaluate the immune response in humans to vaccinations against influenza virus and oversaw efforts to develop a lot release and stability assay for a new candidate anthrax vaccine under Good Manufacturing Practice.
As the Director of the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases (LID), Dr. Rayner is responsible for general administrative oversight of the facility to help ensure compliance with all Federal, State and University policies; and to promote the use of the facility in support of innovative new science that can be applied to addressing concerns with infectious diseases of importance to public health and biodefense. Dr. Rayner’s specific research interests at the LID are focused on the molecular pathogenesis of emerging and re-emerging viral infections; and the development of animal models and assays to support early stage discovery and evaluation of new medical interventions against an array of infectious disease pathogens. Dr. Rayner plans to implement the University’s current Good Clinical Practice program at the LID to support human clinical trials for vaccines targeting high priority pathogens such as VEEV, EEEV and Rickettsia prowazekii to name a few.
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