Edmund C. Tramont, M.D., brings a blend of military, academic, and entrepreneurial experiences to his new job as director of the Division of AIDS (DAIDS), part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Dr. Tramont, who took up the new position on July 6, was instrumental in developing eight experimental vaccines, two of which are now licensed. He worked to strengthen Maryland's emerging biotech industry; consulted on operation Desert Storm; and once, as a young resident in 1968, helped care for the ailing former President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
"Dr. Tramont's scientific accomplishments and his proven track record as a manager make him the ideal person for the job," says Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., NIAID director. "He possesses a broad scientific vision and the ability to lead and inspire."
As director of DAIDS, one of four research divisions within the NIAID, Dr. Tramont will oversee an estimated $444 million global research program involving hundreds of clinical trials with the aim of treating, preventing, and better understanding HIV/AIDS. "The DAIDS program has been enormously successful," says Dr. Tramont. "For example, DAIDS has been critical to our understanding of how HIV causes disease, to creating antiretroviral drugs, and in preventing mother-to-infant transmission of HIV, to name only a few contributions. My challenge is to build on that legacy."
Dr. Tramont comes from a family of architects and builders, and as an undergraduate, he originally studied sanitary engineering. But a required course in microbiology changed the direction of his life. "That course was so fascinating that I switched from engineering to pre-med. This was in my junior year. I had to go back and start over, taking all the pre-med courses." Dr. Tramont received his B.S. from Rutgers University in 1962 and his M.D. from Boston University in 1966.
In 1968, he was drafted into the army and began a residency at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. His first patient was Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. The former president suffered from heart problems, and Dr. Tramont's job was to sit with him day and night, monitoring his condition. "We talked about golf, war, politics, life in general. He said to me, 'If you're lucky, the army is a good deal.' He was right."
Dr. Tramont spent the next 23 years in the army, working primarily to develop vaccines that would protect soldiers from sexually transmitted diseases and other illnesses. "At the time, the army was developing more vaccines than anyone else," he says. He established an infectious disease program at Walter Reed, and he was instrumental in creating the combined meningococcal vaccine. He also designed and implemented vaccine trials for gonorrhea, shigella, and HIV. During the Desert Storm operation, he served as a consultant on infectious disease issues.
After retiring from the army in 1991, Dr. Tramont became a professor at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (UMBI), where he served as director of the institute's Medical Biotechnology Center. Much of that job entailed forging connections between academic researchers and Maryland's growing biotechnology industry. He continued his vaccine research and was involved in founding two biotech companies during that time. In 1998, Dr. Tramont became co-director of the Vaccine Division at the Institute of Human Virology, also part of the UMBI.
Dr. Tramont replaces former DAIDS director John Y. Killen, Jr., M.D. Dr. Killen has assumed the position of associate director for research ethics, NIAID.
NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIAID supports basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat infectious and immune-mediated illnesses, including HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, malaria, autoimmune disorders, asthma and allergies.
Press releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at http://www.niaid.nih.gov.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.