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Texas Biomed veterinarian receives high honor from the National Institutes of Health

Dr. Diana Scorpio receives 2020 NIAID Merit Award

Diana Scorpio
Dr. Diana Scorpio

San Antonio, Texas (January 14, 2021) – Diana Scorpio, D.V.M., Professor and Associate Director of Veterinary Resources and Research Support at the Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC), was selected by Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), to receive the 2020 NIAID Merit Award. Dr. Scorpio along with team members of The Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center (VRC) Tuberculosis Vaccine Unit are receiving the award for their efforts on further development of the BCG (bacille Calmette-Guerin) tuberculosis vaccine. Dr. Scorpio was the attending veterinarian on the study during her tenure at the VRC, which is an extension of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), established to facilitate research in vaccine development. Dr. Scorpio also served as the animal program director at the VRC before her appointment at the SNPRC.

“It’s a great honor to receive the MERIT award from Dr. Fauci,” Dr. Scorpio said. “Making this list is significant. My team exemplified stellar work towards further development of the BCG vaccine, which is currently being used in many susceptible countries to prevent childhood TB. I’m proud to be part of this study.”

The MERIT awards recognize NIAID staff for their accomplishments and achievements in four categories:

  • Scientific/Medical
  • Administrative
  • Technical/Clerical/Support
  • Mentoring

“As a leading primate center in the country, we’re fortunate to have Dr. Scorpio at the SNPRC,” said Dr. Deepak Kaushal, Professor and Director of the SNPRC. “She is distinguished and brings a wealth of experience in veterinary science. She has an outstanding track record in delivering results in support of innovative studies. This is a well-deserved honor for her.”

This is Dr. Scoprio’s third MERIT award. She received her first MERIT award in 2018 for preclinical work related to the accelerated development of a ZIKA DNA vaccine and one in 2019 for identifying vaccine-induced antibodies capable of neutralizing 59% of HIV-1 and revealing how such antibodies can be induced through focusing on a conserved antigen hotspot.

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Texas Biomed is one of the world’s leading independent biomedical research institutions dedicated to eradicating infection and advancing health worldwide through innovative biomedical research. Texas Biomed partners with researchers and institutions around the world to develop vaccines and therapeutics against viral pathogens causing AIDS, hepatitis, hemorrhagic fever, tuberculosis and parasitic diseases responsible for malaria and schistosomiasis disease. The Institute has programs in host-pathogen interaction, disease intervention and prevention and population health to understand the links between infectious diseases and other diseases such as aging, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. For more information on Texas Biomed, go to www.TxBiomed.org.