Dr. Thomas G. Ksiazek - DVM 1970

2015 Distinguished Alumnus Award

Dr. Thomas Ksiazek

Dr. Thomas G. Ksiazek, Galveston, Texas, was the recipient of the 2015 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Veterinary Medical Alumni Association. This award recognizes Dr. Ksiazek for his outstanding achievements, humanitarian service and contributions to the veterinary profession. The award was presented during the 77th Annual Conference for Veterinarians on June 7, 2015.

Dr. Ksiazek is currently director of high containment laboratory operations for the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch. He is also director of the National Biodefense Training Center and a world-renowned virus expert with 40 years of experience on the front lines of some of the worst outbreaks the world has ever seen. In August 2014, he led the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Ebola outbreak control operations, assisting the government of Sierra Leone in Africa.

Prior to that, Dr. Ksiazek was the chief of the Special Pathogens Branch, Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, in Atlanta, Georgia. He had been in the Special Pathogens Branch at the CDC since 1991 after retiring from the U.S. Army as Lieutenant Colonel with 20 years of active duty service.

Dr. Ksiazek earned his DVM from K-State in 1970, and then spent a year as associate veterinarian, at the Adirondack Animal Hospital in Glensfalls, New York. He started his military career when he joined the U. S. Air force in 1971, holding a position that year as Base Veterinarian at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. He then worked as Chief of Veterinary Services, Royal Air Force Chicksands, United Kingdom.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by the institution where my professional career began,” Dr. Ksiazek said. “The solid basic science foundation at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine provided the basis and stimulus for the career that I’ve been fortunate to have had.”

“This is a special opportunity for me personally to recognize a classmate from the same graduating class in veterinary college,” said Dr. Ralph C. Richardson, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. “I have great admiration for Tom as a person and how his career has progressed over the years. He is a shining example of how the One Health initiative works. His impact on understanding disease like SARS, Hantavirus and Ebola may well be unprecedented in the biomedical community. As an alumnus, he has been a great representative, not only for our college, but for Kansas State University and the entire veterinary profession. This is indeed a well-deserved honor.”

“Dr. Ksiazek is a perfect example of the role that veterinarians play in helping to battle emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases on a global level,” said Dr. Tammy Beckham, director of the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases in College Station, Texas. Dr. Beckham has been named as the new dean at the College of Veterinary Medicine and will take over for Dr. Richardson on Aug. 2. “I am honored to have served with Dr. Ksiazek on the Texas Task Force for Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response and know that the work that he performed during the most recent Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone helped to save many lives. Dr. Ksiazek is extremely deserving of this award.”

Dr. Ksiazek made a change in his veterinary military career by attending the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, receiving a master’s degree in virology in 1976 and later the University of California, Berkeley, where he received a Ph.D. in epidemiology and virology in 1984.

Dr. Ksiazek has worked as a Veterinary Microbiologist performing virology research at stations around the world for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and then for the U.S. Army at the Disease Assessment Division at Ft. Detrick in Frederick, Maryland. He then served as Chief, Rapid Diagnosis Section, Department of Epidemiology, Disease Assessment Division, at Ft. Detrick.

His career saw many awards and honors including: High Score, National Veterinary Board, 1970; Veterinary Officer Basic Course, Honor Graduate, 1971; Squadron Officer School, Air University, Maxwell AFB, Maxwell, Alabama, 1974; The Margaret Beattie Award for Excellence in Laboratory Science, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, 1983; The Army Surgeon General's Award of an "A" skill identifier for Veterinary Microbiologists, 1990; Department of the Army Research and Development Achievement Award for Technical Achievement, 1990; Pekka Halonen Award for Diagnostic Virology, Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1992; Founders Lector, American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, 1995; Edward Stitt Lecture Award, Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, 1996; Senior Biological Research Service, CDC, USPHS recipient of four Secretary of Health and Human Services Awards for infectious disease outbreak investigations, 1993-1999; and recipient of Army, Navy and Air Force Commendation Medals. In 2014 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Filovirus Science at the 6th International Symposium on Filoviruses.

Dr. Ksiazek has authored and co-authored over 350 publications in his career and is a member of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, American Society for Microbiology, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Veterinary Medical Association, the Society of Tropical Veterinary Medicine and is a member of the Phi Zeta Honor Society.

Dr. Ksiazek and his wife, Shirley, have a daughter, Sarah. His personal interests include woodworking and recreational welding.