• Affiliate Associate Professor, Global Health
  • Chief, Viral Special Pathogens Branch, Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, National Center for Emerging & Zoonotic Infectious Diseases

Captain Joel M. Montgomery, PhD is currently the Chief of the Viral Special Pathogens Branch (VSPB) in the Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology of NCEZID. He oversees a diverse portfolio public health research, response and partner country capacity enhancement to high consequence pathogens such as Ebola, Nipah virus, Lassa fever, hantavirus and CCHF.  Formally, he was chief of the Epidemiology, Informatics, and Surveillance Lab Branch (formally Global Disease Detection Branch) in CDC’s Division of Global Health Protection. Dr. Montgomery brings many years of in-depth global experience as a laboratorian/microbiologist and epidemiologist to his role, where he is responsible for coordinating scientific efforts in 10 Global Disease Detection country offices and implementing technical aspects of the Global Health Security Agenda.

For the past 16 years, Dr. Montgomery has played a key role in CDC’s global health protection efforts. Most recently, he served as director of the division’s programs in CDC-Kenya and principal deputy director for Kenya’s country office where he led a staff of over 500 diverse professionals and managed a budget of over $20 million. In Kenya, he oversaw and directed public health research activities in two large population-based cohorts: a rural site in Western Kenya and an urban settlement (Kibera slum) in Nairobi. These sites provided a strong foundation for understanding the burden and etiology of infectious diseases in Kenya and for evaluating strategies to reduce morbidity and mortality.

Dr. Montgomery’s efforts to build public health capacity extended beyond Kenya’s borders. He helped lead CDC’s Ebola response and deployed to Liberia three times during the 2014 outbreak. He also helped recognize, respond to, and characterize a large dengue outbreak in Somalia and Kenya, and implemented the first ever surveillance for dengue and other infectious diseases in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Prior to his appointment in Kenya, Dr. Montgomery served for 5 years as director of the Department of Emerging Infections at the US Naval Medical Research Unit Six (NAMRU-6) in Lima, Peru. In this position, he directed an innovative study in the Amazon looking at changes in human land use patterns on disease transmission.

At CDC, Dr. Montgomery has worked closely with the Influenza Division to better define the burden of influenza and other respiratory diseases, seasonal transmission dynamics, and risk factors for infection. Dr. Montgomery is an alumnus of CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) program. He received his training in the Viral Special Pathogens Branch, where he was involved with several high-profile international outbreaks including SARS in Vietnam, Monkeypox and Nipah virus in Bangladesh and Marburg hemorrhagic fever in Angola.

Joel has received numerous awards for outstanding public health service, including the US Naval and US Public Health Service Commendation Medals.  His is an author/co-author of more than 115 scientific papers and book chapters, serves as an editor for several scientific journals, and has delivered over 160 invited lectures and presentations.  He is one of two CDC scientists (the other being DHCPP Director Inger Damon) featured in the current Smithsonian exhibit, Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World.  He earned a PhD in Molecular Parasitology from the University of Texas and is an adjunct faculty member at both the University of Washington and Tulane University.

  • PhD (University of Texas)
  • MS (University of Texas)
  • BS (University of Texas)
Health Topics 
  • Burden of Disease
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Infectious Diseases (other than STDs)
  • Viruses
  • Zoonotic Diseases and Animal Health
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