Amber Mallory, PhD, brings her expertise in biomedical research at the Department of Defense to Texas Biomed in a newly established role for the Institute.
SAN ANTONIO (January 18, 2023) — To help manage expanding scientific faculty, staff and resources, Texas Biomedical Research Institute welcomes Amber Mallory, PhD, as Assistant Vice President for Research Resources & Strategic Initiatives.
“I have always had great respect for Texas Biomed,” says Dr. Mallory, who began mid-January. “Texas Biomed is on the path to go up and up. I am excited to learn from smart and accomplished scientists and support where I can to help the organization succeed.”
Most recently, Dr. Mallory directed trauma and clinical care research for the U.S. Air Force 59th Medical Wing’s Science and Technology Office at Lackland Air Force Base, about 10 minutes down the road from Texas Biomed in San Antonio. She brings a wealth of experience in conducting and managing biomedical research for large organizations, having held research posts at Battelle, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Navy and the Air Force.
Texas Biomed Executive Vice President for Research Joanne Turner, PhD, is thrilled to be adding Dr. Mallory to her team through the newly created role for the Institute.
“We have oversight of more than a dozen programs at Texas Biomed and this new position will help us give our scientists the full support and attention they need,” Dr. Turner says. “I can’t wait for Dr. Mallory to have a chance to meet with everyone, get to know our culture and help us identify ways we can be more effective.”
At the outset, Dr. Mallory will help oversee Texas Biomed’s Molecular, Microscopy and Biology Core Labs, which encompass shared equipment and research staff. She will also work with the directors of Texas Biomed’s biosafety level (BSL) 3 and 4 labs to support biocontainment research operations.
At the 59th Medical Wing, Dr. Mallory assisted physicians in designing preclinical research studies to, for example, test drugs aimed at reducing inflammation in patients with multiple injuries. She also conducted her own research, which focused on nanomaterials to minimize infection in austere and combat settings.
An Ohio native, Dr. Mallory’s scientific path began on a peach farm. The organic movement was exploding as she grew up and sparked her curiosity about the pesticides her family used. She enjoyed studying chemistry and biology while playing Division 1 volleyball for Youngstown State University. She earned a master’s degree in microbiology at Texas Tech, focusing on environmental toxicology. After working in high biocontainment labs at Battelle for several years, she went on to complete her PhD from The Ohio State University in Integrated Biomedical Sciences, specializing in immunology, toxicology and nanomaterials. Specifically, she studied quantum dots, air pollution and zeolites, a group of porous materials that can be modulated for drug delivery and other applications. Her research demonstrated that silver nanoparticles embedded in a type of zeolite showed antimicrobial properties.
She was interested in a career in the civil service and completed postdocs specifically in government labs, including Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the FDA in Washington, DC.
“I always wanted to work for the government and give back to the country in some way, that was important to me,” she says.
Dr. Mallory made the move to San Antonio in 2013 to join the scientific team at The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine. There, she led mercury abatement research for the Navy. That led to opportunities to oversee research for the military as a civilian scientist. She directed combat casualty care and operational medicine research for the Navy, and then directed trauma and clinical care research for the Air Force.
She regularly interacted with private, academic and industry sectors while at the 59th Medical Wing; one day, she received a cold call to collaborate with a company working on zeolites.
“It was my PhD mentor,” she says. “They had gone on to refine the zeolite compound that showed antimicrobial properties and patent it.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Dr. Mallory received two grants to study different disinfection strategies in military settings, including one of those zeolite compounds. She immediately reached out to Texas Biomed to partner on the research. She worked with Professors Jordi B. Torrelles, PhD, and Luis Martinez-Sobrido, PhD, and postdoctoral scientist Israel Guerrero, PhD, to evaluate how well the compound neutralized SARS-CoV-2 on a variety of surfaces, from tabletops to clothes.
That was such a positive experience that when the opportunity arose to join Texas Biomed full time, Dr. Mallory did not hesitate to apply.
“Research is a tiny sliver of the DOD’s mission,” Dr. Mallory says. “I love research and am looking forward to being in an organization wholly dedicated to research.”