The Tick-Borne Disease Working Group, where Macaluso serves, was established by Congress in 2016 as part of the 21st Century Cures Act. It focuses on the development of a report to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and Congress on the findings and any recommendations of the group for the federal response to tick-borne disease prevention, treatment and research, and how to address gaps in those areas.

Published Nov 4th, 2019

By Casandra Andrews
candrews@health.southalabama.edu 

Kevin R. Macaluso, Ph.D., the Locke Distinguished Chair of Microbiology and Immunology at the USA College of Medicine, has been appointed to a 14-member national panel tasked with providing subject matter expertise, review of federal efforts for all tick-borne diseases and examination of research priorities for the federal government.

The Tick-Borne Disease Working Group, where Macaluso serves, was established by Congress in 2016 as part of the 21st Century Cures Act. It focuses on the development of a report to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and Congress on the findings and any recommendations of the group for the federal response to tick-borne disease prevention, treatment and research, and how to address gaps in those areas.

Tick-borne diseases are a serious public health problem. Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease, but there are at least 20 different infections that are transmitted by ticks in the United States. According to the CDC, more than 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed each year. The number of new cases has been increasing in recent years, and the areas where ticks are found are expanding, which puts more people in more states at potential risk.

The Working Group was authorized by Congress for a total of six years from the date that the Act became law. The current authorization extends until December 2022.

The Tick-Borne Disease Working Group has 14 members - seven federal members and seven public members. Federal members represent the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, and other federal agencies or offices the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determines appropriate. Public members represent the following categories: 1) physicians and other medical providers with experience in diagnosing and treating tick-borne diseases; 2) scientists or researchers with expertise; 3) patients and their family members; and 4) nonprofit organizations that advocate for patients with respect to tick-borne diseases.

Macaluso earned a Ph.D. in 2000 at Oklahoma State University. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maryland Baltimore School of Medicine from 2000 to 2004. Then, he joined the faculty at Louisiana State University School (LSU) of Veterinary Medicine. In 2009 he was tenured and in 2013 was promoted to professor. In 2019, Macaluso became the Locke Distinguished Chair and Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the College of Medicine at the University of South Alabama.

He has been involved with several professional scientific societies including the American Society for Rickettsiology and Rickettsial Diseases and the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. He serves on executive committees within these societies, and has been active in other advisory panels including BEI Vectors Focus group and as a regular member of the NIH Vector Biology Study Section. He serves as a subject editor for the Journal of Medical Entomology, a publication of the Entomological Society of America. Macaluso is funded by the NIH since 2002 to study tick- and flea-borne rickettsial diseases. He has more than 60 scientific papers, several book chapters, and he contributed to the latest version of the Arthropod Containment Guidelines for laboratory research.

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