Karen Elkins, PhD
Supervisory Research Biologist and Senior Biomedical Research Service
Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER)
Silver Spring, MD
Since before it was cool, the Elkins lab has studied the Live Vaccine Strain (LVS) of Francisella tularensis as a model for understanding the nature of protective immunity to pathogenic intracellular bacteria. Karen obtained a B.A. in Chemistry from Wake Forest University, followed by a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology at Duke University and postdoctoral training at USUHS and NIH. Since 1993, she has been a Senior Investigator and Supervisory Research Biologist at the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) of the U.S. FDA, also known as a “Researcher/Reviewer.” The lab now focuses on using animal models to identify T cell functions that are most critical for vaccine-induced protection against F. tularensis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and using that knowledge to develop predictive correlates of protection. Karen was part of the group that initiated the Tularemia International Society, and some of her fondest (and cloudiest) scientific memories are linked to International Conferences on Tularemia. A substantial proportion of her long-term cognitive ability was probably sacrificed during the 5th International Conferences at Captain Kidd’s in Woods Hole, MA, but from the little she can actually remember, it was totally worth it.