Jennifer Pickens, Ph.D.

Director of Infectious Disease Research

Pickens holds more than 10 years of scientific leadership experience as a subject matter expert in infectious diseases and preclinical drug development focused on the advancement of cutting-edge vaccine and therapeutic medical countermeasures in the nonclinical and clinical setting. Before joining Southern Research in 2019 and again in 2022, she earned a Ph.D. in Infectious Diseases from the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia in 2011 under the mentorship of S. Mark Tompkins and later completed postdoctoral fellowships (2012-2017) within the laboratory of James E. Crowe, Jr at the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center and Ralph A. Tripp at the University Georgia. Her career has focused on managing preclinical research programs aimed at identifying and assessing the efficacy of novel antiviral therapeutics against potentially lethal respiratory viruses (i.e. respiratory syncytial virus, metapneumoviruses, SARS-CoV-2 and influenza), as well as managing more than 40 clinical trials within the Lymphoma and Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation Division at Sarah Cannon Research Institute, working alongside renowned physician leaders Dr. Ian W. Flinn and Dr. Carlos Bachier. During the COVID-19 pandemic, her work focused predominately on developing the nonclinical commercial and government A/BSL-3 SAR-CoV-2 program at Southern Research before joining the Biomedical Advanced Research & Development Authority (BARDA) in 2021 as a nonclinical and infectious disease SME/Biologist. She returned to Southern Research in 2022 as Associate Director of Client Services; and in her new role, she works alongside commercial and government clients providing scientific and operational guidance through the lifecycle of their pre-IND pipelines. Her research has resulted in eight highly-cited publications and invitations to present at national and international conferences.

Pickens’ Key Accomplishments:
• Identified low pathogenic avian influenza strains that exhibited enhanced pandemic potential
• In vitro and in vivo characterized antiviral therapeutics against influenza, RSV, orthopoxvirus, SARS-CoV-2, HIV, and hMPV
• Helped develop the hamster and NHP animal models for SARS-CoV-2

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