Dr. Damon is one of the world’s experts on orthopoxviruses including smallpox, an infectious disease that killed millions before it was declared eradicated in 1980 by global surveillance and vaccination campaigns. CDC is one of only two locations in the world where live smallpox is still kept and studied. For over fifteen years, Dr. Damon directed CDC’s smallpox research program conducting research to help develop new smallpox diagnostic tests, assess the effectiveness of new vaccines, and create better drugs for treatment. Her expertise leading this global poxvirus activity included programs to look for sources of poxviruses in wildlife, as well as leading CDC’s 2003 response to an outbreak of monkeypox in the United States linked to imported exotic pets. She serves as the director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Smallpox and other Poxviruses at CDC.
Since 2014, Dr. Damon has served as the director for the Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, overseeing the agency’s expertise on deadly pathogens such as Ebola, other viral hemorrhagic fever viruses, smallpox, rabies, and anthrax. The Division has responsibility for a broad range of bacterial and viral pathogens, as well as prion diseases and cross-cutting pathology roles. Division staff lead studies of CFS/ME and human papilloma virus infections- inclusive of laboratory studies to evalaute vaccine efficacy. During 2014-2015, she served as the lncident Manager for CDC’s response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. As part of that response, Dr. Damon helped direct the agency’s national and global fight against Ebola.