Deborah Birx

  (Redirected from Deborah L. Birx)

Deborah Leah Birx (born April 4, 1956) is an American physician and diplomat who specializes in HIV/AIDS immunology, vaccine research, and global health.[1] As of March 2020, Birx serves as the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force.[2][3] From 2014 to 2020, Birx served as Ambassador-at-Large and United States Global AIDS Coordinator, where she was responsible for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program in 65 countries supporting HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs.[4]

Deborah Birx
Ambassador Deborah Birx (cropped).jpg
White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator
Assumed office
February 27, 2020
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byPosition established
United States Global AIDS Coordinator
Assumed office
April 4, 2014
PresidentBarack Obama
Donald Trump
Preceded byEric Goosby
Personal details
Born (1956-04-04) April 4, 1956 (age 64)
Pennsylvania, U.S.
EducationHoughton College (BS)
Pennsylvania State University (MD)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
AwardsLegion of Merit
Birx with Vice President Mike Pence in March 2020

Early life and education

Birx was born in Pennsylvania. She is the daughter of Donald Birx, a mathematician and electrical engineer, and Adele Sparks Birx, a nursing instructor.[5][6][7] Birx and her family lived in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, for several years during her early life, where she attended school in the Lampeter-Strasburg School District, including Lampeter-Strasburg High School.[7] Birx's freshman year science project, displayed in 1971 at the Lancaster City-County Science Fair, focused on paleobotany.[7] The next year, Birx, then a high school sophomore, placed third at the same Lancaster Science Fair with a more in-depth exhibit on paleobotany and rocks.[7] In a 1972 interview with the Lancaster New Era, Birx explained her interest in the subject matter of her project, saying, "I agree history may not help you predict the future, so that's why I like rocks. They're more consistent than people."[7]

Birx's family then relocated to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where she graduated from Carlisle High School.[8]

In 1976, Birx received a BS in chemistry from Houghton College. In 1980, Birx earned an MD from the Hershey Medical Center, Pennsylvania State University.[5]


From 1980 to 1994, Birx served as an active duty reserve officer in the United States Army. From 1994 to 2008, Birx was active duty regular Army, achieving the rank of Colonel.[8]

From 1980 to 1989, Birx worked as a physician at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.[9] In 1981, Birx completed a one-year internship and did a two-year residency in internal medicine. From 1983 to 1986, she completed two fellowships in clinical immunology in the areas of allergies and diagnostics, where she worked in Anthony Fauci's lab.[3] From 1985 to 1989, Birx was the assistant chief of the Walter Reed Allergy/Immunology Service. Birx started her career as a clinician in immunology, eventually focusing on HIV/AIDS vaccine research.[3][9]

From 1986 to 1989, Birx worked at the National Institutes of Health as an investigator specializing in cellular immunology.[9]

Birx returned to Walter Reed, where from 1989 to 1995 she worked in the Department of Retroviral Research, first as an assistant chief and then chief of the division. She was lab director in HIV-1 Vaccine Development for a year. Birx became the Director of the United States Military HIV Research Program at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, a position she held for nine years, from 1996 to 2005. In that position, Birx led the HIV vaccine clinical trial of RV 144, the first supporting evidence of any vaccine being effective in lowering the risk of contracting HIV.[9]


From 2005 to 2014, Birx served as the director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Global HIV/AIDS (DGHA), part of the agency's Center for Global Health.[10]

President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief

In January 2014, President Barack Obama nominated Birx to be the Ambassador at Large and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator as part of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program.[11][12]

On April 4, 2014, Birx was confirmed by the Senate.[13] She described her role as ambassador to help meet the HIV prevention and treatment targets set by Obama in 2015 to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.[14] Her role has focused on the areas HIV/AIDS immunology, vaccine research, and global health issues around HIV/AIDS.[2] As part of her work with HIV prevention, Birx created a program called DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe), a public-private partnership focused on reducing infection rates in adolescent populations.[15]

White House Coronavirus Task Force

On February 27, 2020, Vice President Mike Pence appointed Birx to the position of White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator. As part of this role, Birx reports to Pence on the White House Coronavirus Task Force.[2][16]

On March 26, 2020, Birx sought to reassure Americans in a press conference[17] that "there is no situation in the United States right now that warrants that kind of discussion [that ventilators or ICU hospital beds might be in limited supply] ... You can be thinking about it ... but to say that to the American people, to make the implication that when they need a hospital bed, it's not going to be there, or when they need that ventilator, it's not going to be there, we don't have evidence of that right now."[18]

Personal life

Birx lives with her parents, husband, and one of her daughter's family in a multi-generational home.[19]


Awards and honors

Selected works and publications

  • Birx DL, Redfield RR, Tosato G (3 April 1986). "Defective Regulation of Epstein–Barr Virus Infection in Patients with Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) or AIDS-Related Disorders". New England Journal of Medicine. 314 (14): 874–879. doi:10.1056/NEJM198604033141403. PMID 3005862.   Wikidata ( )
  • Redfield RR, Birx DL, Ketter N, Tramont E, Polonis V, Davis C, Brundage JF, Smith G, Johnson S, Fowler A (13 June 1991). "A Phase I Evaluation of the Safety and Immunogenicity of Vaccination with Recombinant gp160 in Patients with Early Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection". New England Journal of Medicine. 324 (24): 1677–1684. doi:10.1056/NEJM199106133242401. PMID 1674589.   Wikidata ( )
  • Wolfe ND, Heneine W, Carr JK, Garcia AD, Shanmugam V, Tamoufe U, Torimiro JN, Prosser AT, Lebreton M, Mpoudi-Ngole E, McCutchan FE, Birx DL, Folks TM, Burke DS, Switzer WM (23 May 2005). "Emergence of unique primate T-lymphotropic viruses among central African bushmeat hunters". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 102 (22): 7994–7999. doi:10.1073/pnas.0501734102. PMID 15911757.   Wikidata ( )
  • Rerks-Ngarm, Supachai; Pitisuttithum, Punnee; Nitayaphan, Sorachai; Kaewkungwal, Jaranit; Chiu, Joseph; Paris, Robert; Premsri, Nakorn; Namwat, Chawetsan; de Souza, Mark; Adams, Elizabeth; Benenson, Michael; Gurunathan, Sanjay; Tartaglia, Jim; McNeil, John G.; Francis, Donald P.; Stablein, Donald; Birx, Deborah L.; Chunsuttiwat, Supamit; Khamboonruang, Chirasak; Thongcharoen, Prasert; Robb, Merlin L.; Michael, Nelson L.; Kunasol, Prayura; Kim, Jerome H. (3 December 2009). "Vaccination with ALVAC and AIDSVAX to Prevent HIV-1 Infection in Thailand". New England Journal of Medicine. 361 (23): 2209–2220. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa0908492. PMID 19843557.   Wikidata ( )
  • Abdool Karim Q, Baxter C, Birx D (May 2017). "Prevention of HIV in Adolescent Girls and Young Women". JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. 75: S17–S26. doi:10.1097/QAI.0000000000001316. PMID 28398993.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)   Wikidata ( )
  • Raizes E, Hader S, Birx D (15 November 2017). "The US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and HIV Drug Resistance: Mitigating Risk, Monitoring Impact". The Journal of Infectious Diseases. 216 (suppl_9): S805–S807. doi:10.1093/infdis/jix432.
  • Nkengasong JN, Mbopi-Keou FX, Peeling RW, Yao K, Zeh CE, Schneidman M, Gadde R, Abimiku A, Onyebujoh P, Birx D, Hader S (November 2018). "Laboratory medicine in Africa since 2008: then, now, and the future". The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 18 (11): e362–e367. doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(18)30120-8. PMID 29980383.   Wikidata ( )


  1. ^ Das, Pamela (November 2016). "Deborah L Birx: on a mission to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic". The Lancet. 388 (10060): 2583. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(16)32227-9.
  2. ^ a b c Pence, Mike (27 February 2020). "Vice President Pence Announces Ambassador Debbie Birx to Serve as the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator". The White House.
  3. ^ a b c Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (6 March 2020). "Top Coronavirus Official for U.S. Has Fought an Epidemic Before". The New York Times.
  4. ^ Rushton, Mary (2015). "Six Prominent Women Scientists Making a Difference in the AIDS Fight". IAVI Report. 19 (2).
  5. ^ a b Kerry, John (25 April 2014). "Remarks at Swearing-in Ceremony for Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator of the USG Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS Deborah Birx". U.S. Department of State.
  6. ^ "Class News". Johns Hopkins Nursing Magazine. Johns Hopkins School of Nursing (26). 21 July 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e Reinert, Jed (2020-03-20). "White House coronavirus response coordinator found early success at Lancaster County science fairs". LNP (newspaper). Archived from the original on 2020-03-31. Retrieved 2020-04-04.
  8. ^ a b Gitt, Tammie (28 February 2020). "White House names Carlisle High School grad to serve as chief adviser on coronavirus response team". The Sentinel.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Birx, Deborah L., M.D." U.S. Department of State. 2017.
  10. ^ Birx, Deborah L. (6 March 2014). "Written Testimony: Deborah L. Birx, MD Ambassador at Large Designate and Coordinator Designate, Department of State, United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS Globally Senate Foreign Relations Committee" (PDF). Senate Foreign Relations Committee. U.S. Senate.
  11. ^ Markey, Edward J. (6 March 2014). "Nominations of Deborah Birx; Suzan LeVine; Maureen Cormack; and Peter Selfridge" (PDF). United States Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations.
  12. ^ Cardin, Ben (10 January 2014). "Cardin Welcomes the Nomination of Dr. Deborah L. Birx of Maryland to be Ambassador at Large and Coordinator of United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS Globally". U.S. Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland.
  13. ^ "Dr. Deborah Birx Sworn-In as New U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator". U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief (Press release). 4 April 2014. Archived from the original on March 25, 2015.
  14. ^ Birx, Deborah (14 April 2016). "Harnessing the Data Revolution for an AIDS-Free Generation". HuffPost.
  15. ^ "Making the Dream to End HIV a Reality by Empowering Adolescent Girls and Young Women: Emerging lessons from the DREAMS partnership". Population Council. 15 June 2018.
  16. ^ Shear, Michael (29 February 2020). "Who's on the U.S. Coronavirus Task Force: Dr. Deborah L. Birx". The New York Times.
  17. ^ Noack, Rick; Mettler, Katie; Knowles, Hannah; Armus, Teo; Berger, Miriam (26 March 2020). "Coronavirus death toll in U.S. reaches 1,000 as number of confirmed cases passes China". The Washington Post.
  18. ^ Schwartz, Ian (26 March 2020). "Dr. Birx: Coronavirus Data Doesn't Match The Doomsday Media Predictions". Real Clear Politics.
  19. ^ Burgess, Phil (20 March 2020). "Phil Burgess: Deborah Birx is the grandmother coordinating the White House response to coronavirus pandemic". Capital Gazette.
  20. ^ "Members of the Board: United States of America: Board Member – Deborah L. Birx". The Global Fund. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  21. ^ Redfield, MC, LTC Robert R. (November–December 1991). "Therapy in HIV Positive Patients Using Recombinant GP160 Vaccine". Army Research, Development & Acquisition Bulletin PB 70-91-6. HQ, U.S. Army Materiel Command. 91 (6): 36–37.
  22. ^ White, Corey (10 January 2014). "ASLM Commends Nomination of Dr. Deborah Birx as United States Global AIDS Coordinator". African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM).


Further reading

External links

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Eric Goosby
United States Global AIDS Coordinator