A member of the faculty of the Texas Tech University law school has been appointed to the governor’s newly created task force that will review the state’s readiness against infectious diseases.
Gov. Rick Perry on Monday announced Dr. Victoria Sutton, director of the Center for Biodefense, Law and Public Policy at Texas Tech University School of Law, would be a member of the Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response.
The purpose of the task force will be to “assess and enhance the state's existing capabilities to prepare for and respond to pandemic disease, such as the Ebola virus,” according to an Oct. 6 press release from the governor’s office.
"Over the past several days we have learned a lot about the unique challenges of situations like this, and it's important that we continue to adapt our response to these realities," Gov. Perry said. "This task force will develop a comprehensive, long-term plan to ensure Texas deals effectively with any potential outbreak, building on our existing State Emergency Plan and will cover all phases of preparedness and response."
The governor named Dr. Brett P. Giroir as director of the task force, heading up a team of internationally renowned experts in epidemiology and infectious disease.
The task force will provide expert, evidence-based assessments, protocols and recommendations related to the current Ebola response, and develop a strategic emergency management plan for incident command teams and their partners at the state and local levels of government.
Dr. Sutton is uniquely qualified for the task force as director of the Center for Biodefense, Law and Public Policy, as it is the only center at an American law school to focus solely on issues of law and biodefense, biosecurity and bioterrorism, according to Dr. Sutton’s faculty biography on the law school website.
She also established the Law and Science Certificate Program and directs the JD/MS Program in Environmental Toxicology, Biotechnology and Plant and Soil Sciences.
Dr. Sutton received bachelor of science degrees in zoology and animal science from North Carolina State University and an M.P.A. from Old Dominion University. She also has a doctorate in environmental sciences from the University of Texas at Dallas and graduated magna cum laude with a doctor of jurisprudence degree from American University, Washington College of Law.
She is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Indian Nation and served as Secretary of the National Native American Bar Association in 2001-2002, and currently serves as a advisory council member of the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center.
Before joining the faculty at Texas Tech, Dr. Sutton served in the Pres. George H. W. Bush Administration as Assistant Director in the White House Science Office and in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
After her White House service, Dr. Sutton was Executive Director of the Ronald Reagan Institute for Emergency Medicine where she led the development of the Institute's research initiatives.
She is an appointee to the Governor Rick Perry Texas Council on Key Resources and Critical Infrastructure Council, for expertise in biodefense law.
Additional members of the task force include Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Dr. Kyle Janek and Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. David Lakey, as well as public health experts, epidemiologists and leadership from state agencies that would be involved in the response to a pandemic event. For a complete list of members, visit http://governor.state.tx.us/news/press-release/20194/
The task force will issue written reports on its findings and recommendations, including legislative recommendations, to the governor and Legislature.
The first report is due by Dec. 1, 2014 and the second by Feb. 1, 2015, with the potential for additional reports as the task force deems necessary, according to the governor's office.