One look at United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) mission statement and you know how critical the Institute (particularly in light of today’s global pandemic) is for the nation’s wellbeing: to protect the warfighter from biological threats and investigate disease outbreaks and threats to public health.
Once you learn more about Technology Transfer Agreements Specialist Valeri Dawes’ background, and you connect the dots, you understand how determinedly she was groomed to fulfill her role with USAMRIID’s Office of Research Technology Applications (ORTA).
Valeri was raised in a focused, no-nonsense family in Frederick, MD, about an hour’s drive from Baltimore. “Lazy was not in my family’s dictionary,” she said. “I got my first work/study job in high school. My parents also started working when they were young. They were very dedicated-- they pushed me.”
Valeri and her team work diligently, executing all-important Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs). The USAMRIID ORTA drafts, negotiates, and finalizes these essential collaborative research agreements with universities, nonprofits and various industries. USAMRIID is a subordinate laboratory under the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command (USAMRDC) headquartered at Fort Detrick. The USAMRDC oversees the activities of eight (8) subordinate commands located throughout the world and coordinates all intellectual property licensing on behalf of all USAMRDC's subordinate laboratories from the federal sector to non federal parties.
These critical inventions can change the world, the result of collaborations to devise medical solutions in terms of therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics. Currently, USAMRIID is working on COVID-19, researching solutions to help resolve the crisis.
How did Valeri become involved in this highly scientific field? Certainly, her Business Communications degree from Johns Hopkins University contributes to her success, but she admits that when the time came for her to get a “real job,” she didn’t really fit the bill.
“Usually in this field, they want someone with a science background, but my administrative skills and hard work ethic helped me get the job. We have an awesome team where every day brings something new and exciting! You have to be a little crazy to do this work. You have to have endurance to survive here," said Valeri. "The processes and approval requirements require much attention to detail. You’re working with lawyers, scientists, principal investigators, project managers and resource management professionals.”
Valeri appreciateed the support she receives from Project Manager, Angela Alexander: “She is very in tune with all levels of the work. She’s always ‘ears open’-- willing to listen and support our needs within the office.”
Regarding the future of her industry, Valeri was clear-eyed and optimistic. “It’s essential and forever developing. The research conducted at USAMRIID is important to protect the warfighter from biological threats and to investigate disease outbreaks and threats to public health. The research at USAMRIID plays an important role leading to medical solutions—therapeutics, vaccines, and diagnostics. USAMRIID has specialized capabilities that allow us to partner with the most cutting-edge entities and explore solutions.”
DSFederal salutes those on the front line of solving the world’s biggest public health issues. Thank you, Valeri, for helping us to responsively connect the dots between crisis and solution.