NIH scientists break new ground in halting deadly outbreak

Julie Segrey, senior investigator, National Institutes of Health

Michael O'Connell | April 17, 2015 5:20 pm

It was like a scene from the movie “Outbreak.”

The incident occurred over a 12-month period in 2011 and 2012 at the country’s leading research hospital. A deadly strain of bacteria, which was resistant to nearly all antibiotics, infected 18 patients, killing seven.

Julie Segre, a senior investigator at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and NIH Deputy Hospital Epidemiologist Tara Palmore led a team of biomedical detectives to identify the source of the infection and design a treatment.

“It is a groundbreaking advance in one hospital that will now have an impact across the world and will become the standard,” said Dr. Francis Collins, NIH director.

From left, are Julie Segre, David Henderson, Tara Palmore and Kevin Snitkin.
For their efforts, the Partnership for Public Service named Segre, Palmore and their team as finalists for the 2013 Service to America Medal in the Science and Environment category. The medal honors a federal employee who has made significant contributions to the public in activities related to science and the environment.


Segre was recently interviewed on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp. she also answered the following questions about herself and her career in the federal government.

What words best describe your leadership philosophy?
Moral compass

What’s the best piece of advice (or words of wisdom) you’ve ever received and who gave it to you?
Just do it, Nike.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
My grandfather who served in military intelligence in World War II and taught me how to stick up for what is right even if it comes at a personal cost. He also taught me code breaking when I was 8-years old, a skill I’ve used in my own work.

What’s the last thing you read and what’s next on your reading list?
My 11-year-old daughter and I are reading Sonia Sotomayor’s biography together. Next on my list is Charles Mann’s “1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created.”

What’s your favorite bureaucratic phrase?
How could I pick just one? Any phrase that involves at least two acronyms that mean something else in common speak.

The Science and Environment Medal is just one of the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies) presented annually by the Partnership for Public Service. View a gallery of all the Sammies nominees here.