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Cray Named to Presidential Advisory Committee on Antibiotic Resistance

Paula Cray
Paula Cray, head of the Department of Population Health and Pathobiology, speaks during a WHO meeting on antimicrobial resistance in 2016.

Paula Cray, head of the Department of Population Health and Pathobiology at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine, has been selected to serve on a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services presidential advisory committee.

Cray was appointed by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health to serve a four-year term on the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, the department announced Wednesday. Her term begins Jan. 29.

The assistant secretary’s office oversees several presidential and secretarial advisory committees which offer guidance on issues such as minority health, vaccines and HIV/AIDS.

Cray is internationally recognized for her decades of breakthrough research on antimicrobial resistance and her drive to develop innovative surveillance systems combating the rising tide of AMR around the world.

Under her leadership, the CVM has become a world leader in the fight against AMR, which the World Health Organization has called a serious threat to global public health. The college participates in two national programs — the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) and the GenomeTrakr program — that identify dangerous drug-resistant strains and track outbreaks.

New resistance mechanisms are spreading within carriers of disease, including bacteria and viruses. Drug-resistant bacterial pathogens, including strains of E. coli and Salmonella, are common causes of foodborne illnesses. Each year, about 48 million Americans are sickened by contaminated food and drink, according to the Centers for Disease and Control.

At the CVM, research is conducted every day on antimicrobial resistance, which impacts everyone from farmers in Africa to the average American who regularly purchases chicken at the grocery store. Cray still regularly conducts research and is part of a group that recently received a five-year study to monitor resistance trends in retail meat sold in North Carolina.

Few have made an impact on the field of antimicrobial resistance quite like Cray, who directed the animal arm of NARMS from its inception in 1997 through 2012. From 2003 to 2014, she directed the United States Department of Agriculture’s VetNet, a foodborne disease surveillance system she co-created. She advises several international surveillance projects, has won numerous governmental awards for her work with NARMS and has authored or co-authored nearly 200 peer-reviewed publications.

~Jordan Bartel/NC State Veterinary Medicine