Alfonso Clavijo has been appointed as director of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, a state-of-the-art USDA research and diagnostic facility designed to protect the nation’s agricultural systems and stakeholders against the threat and potential impact of serious animal diseases.
“Dr. Clavijo brings with him a wealth of technical knowledge in the diagnosis of transboundary, emerging and zoonotic diseases,” says Chavonda Jacobs-Young, administrator for USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. “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 U.S. agriculture and consumers through cutting-edge research, diagnostics, training and development of vaccines and other countermeasures.”
ARS partners with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to operate NBAF. The facility is currently under construction by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with commissioning scheduled for completion in 2021.
Clavijo, who starts Oct. 13, will play a key role in ensuring the smooth transition of responsibility from DHS to USDA once the 574,000 square-foot facility becomes fully operational in 2023.
Prior to his appointment at NBAF, Clavijo served as laboratory executive director of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s National Centers for Animal Disease, which operates laboratories in Winnipeg and Lethbridge. As director, Clavijo oversaw the administration of diagnostic services, related technology development and research to detect and prevent transboundary, emerging and zoonotic animal diseases. He also directed the management of biosafety level 2-4 facilities that allow for the contained study of pathogens that cause foreign animal diseases, including foot-and-mouth, African swine fever, classical swine fever and highly pathogenic avian influenza.
Under Clavijo’s leadership, CFIA’s National Center for Foreign Animal Diseases in Winnipeg was named by the Food and Agriculture Organization as reference center for emerging and zoonotic pathogens. Clavijo was also awarded Canada’s 2018 President’s National Award in “Leadership in People Management.” This prestigious honor cited Clavijo’s exemplary people-management skills and his demonstration of excellence in advancing CFIA goals, values and ethics as a human resources manager.
Clavijo has held leadership or advisory positions at CFIA laboratories, as well as Kansas State University, Texas A&M University, the Pan American Health Organization and National University in Bogota, Colombia.
Clavijo earned a doctorate degree in Veterinary Microbiology/Virology while attending the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, from June 1990 to March 1995 and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from National University in Bogota, Columbia, 1986. He has published numerous scientific works and continues to serve as an adjunct professor or advisor at affiliate organizations.