MANHATTAN, Kan. —Alfonso Clavijo, DVM, Ph.D., was recently named director of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), a research facility that is being built and will be operated by the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA). The laboratory is designed for the study of foreign animal and emerging zoonotic diseases that threaten animal agriculture and public health in the US.

Clavijo will assume his position on Oct. 13.

“Dr. Clavijo brings with him a wealth of technical knowledge in the diagnosis of transboundary, emerging and zoonotic diseases,” said Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Ph.D., administrator for USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS). “As NBAF’s first permanent director, his extensive leadership experience will be a great asset in helping NBAF achieve its vision of being a national asset that protects US agriculture and consumers through cutting-edge research, diagnostics, training, and development of vaccines and other countermeasures.”

ARS will work with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to operate the new facility. Currently, the US Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) is finishing construction and is scheduled to complete it by 2021. The 574,000 sq.-ft. facility plans to be fully operational in 2023 as Clavijo leads the transition from DHS to USDA.

Before his appointment as director for NBAF, Clavijo served as Laboratory Executive Director of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) for National Centres for Animal Disease. During his tenure, he oversaw the administration of diagnostic services, related technology development and research to detect and prevent transboundary, emerging and zoonotic animal diseases.

Clavijo also led the management of biosafety level (BSL) 2-4 facilities, which allow contained study of pathogens that cause foreign animal diseases. 

Clavijo has held leadership or advisory positions at CFIA laboratories, along with Kansas State University, Texas A&M University, the Pan American Health Organization, and National University in Bogota, Colombia.

He earned a doctorate degree in Veterinary Microbiology/Virology while attending the Univ. of Guelph in Ontario, Canada and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from National University in Bogota.