Ben Beard earned a B.S. in 1980 at Auburn University, a M.S. in 1983 at the Louisiana State University School of Medicine, and a Ph.D. in 1987 at the University of Florida. He served as a post-doctoral fellow and as an associate research scientist at Yale University School of Medicine from 1987 to 1991. In 1991, he joined the Division of Parasitic Diseases at CDC, where he conducted applied research on the prevention and control of malaria and Chagas disease, and studied the epidemiology of Pneumocystis pneumonia in persons with AIDS. From 1999 to 2003 he served as Chief of the Vector Genetics Section in the Entomology Branch of the Division of Parasitic Diseases before joining CDCís Division of Vector-borne Infectious Diseases in Fort Collins, CO, in 2003 where he serves as Chief of the Bacterial Diseases Branch and leads CDCís national programs on Lyme disease, plague, and tularemia. In 2008, he took on the additional responsibility of Associate Director for Vector-Borne Diseases in the National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases at CDC. During his tenure at CDC, Ben has worked mostly in tropical medicine and international health. His scientific interests include public health and the biology and genetics of insect-borne diseases and vectors. He has published over 100 scientific papers, books, and book chapters collectively, and has served on a variety of committees and panels both inside and outside of CDC and is currently an Associate Editor for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the outgoing president of the Society for Vector Ecology.
The Potential Impact of Climate Change on the Emergence of Vector-borne and Zoonotic Diseases
Environmentally-associated infectious diseases account for significant morbidity and mortality both nationally and globally. It has been known for many years that climate-related factors affect the relationships between animals, vectors, microbes, and the environment and have been linked to cases and/or outbreaks of numerous infectious diseases. According to the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global warming is unequivocal and is likely to result in significant changes in regional climate patterns, which will undoubtedly alter disease incidence and distribution. While there is abundant evidence indicating that meteorological factors, particularly temperature and precipitation, affect the distribution and abundance of disease vectors and reservoirs, it is unclear how various potential climate change scenarios will impact these diseases. In recent years, a northward shift has been observed in the geographic distribution of enzootic vector-borne and zoonotic diseases in the U.S. such as Lyme disease and mosquito-borne encephalitis. The interplay between the numerous ecologic and epidemiologic factors that contribute to these changing disease patterns remains unclear, however. These observations taken collectively suggest the need for intensive longitudinal studies aimed at collecting and integrating diverse data on vector and reservoir abundance, human disease incidence, changing weather patterns, and corresponding ecological changes, for the purpose of evaluating the interaction of climate, ecology, and disease occurrence and formulating an appropriate response.