Speakers' Bureau Directory: Delgado

Nelson Delgado
Degree: Ph.D.
Employer: New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), Division of Public Health Infrastructure, Laboratories and Emergency Preparedness (PHILEP), Public Health and Environmental Laboratories (PHEL)
Ewing, New Jersey  08628


Primary Employer: Agricultural/Veterinary; Other N/A
Scientific Specialty: Public Health; Other N/A
Job Title: Research Scientist-1
Years in position: 10 years
Presentation Type: N/A
Video Call Type:N/A
Day to day responsibilities:
As the BioThreat Response Laboratory and Molecular Detection Services Coordinator I am responsible for maintaining preparedness against public health emergencies such as events of bioterrorism and natural outbreaks. Emergency response laboratory activities are coordinated with federal partners under the ICLN (i.e., Laboratory Response Network [LRN] and Food Emergency Response Network [FERN]), the FBI, Secret Service and local partners such as the State Police and HazMat teams. Daily activities must strictly adhere to the Select Agent Regulation, 42 CFR Part 73 and CLIA. I develop and adopt molecular methods for the rapid identification and characterization of pathogens of public health significance.

What do you love about your job?
Our mission statement is as follows: “To safeguard public health and save lives.” That is what I love about my job; that through multi-agency collaborations, I am able to save lives. I also experience some degree of satisfaction when, in the current fiscal environment, I am able to procure extramural funds (e.g., grants and cooperative agreements) to support our institution and accomplish the mission. Although it is no fun to sometimes wake up at 2:00 AM to respond to a public health emergency, knowing that my actions can save lives brings a sense of fulfillment and duty.

Degrees, experience, license(s), and skills required for position:
I completed a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Medical Zoology from the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus in 1999. After graduation, I taught microbiology for a semester at the UPR and then went to the Medical College of Ohio (Toledo) to begin postdoctoral experience in molecular mycology, which took ~3.5 years. In 2003, I was recruited by the NJDOH to work in the BioThreat Response Laboratory and in 2006 I became the Program Coordinator. In 2008 I started preparing myself physically and emotionally to take exam of the American Board of Medical Microbiology (ABMM) which I passed in 2009. In that year I also became a Registered Biosafety Professional (RBP) with the American Biological Safety Association (ABSA). I strongly believe in continuing education and actively participate in such efforts in the workplace. Writing grants, regulatory compliance, developing strategic partnerships and having fun with laboratory technology are job requirements.

Tips/Advice for how to secure a job in microbiology upon graduation:
Do not settle for a BS degree in science. Pursue an MS or Ph.D. and once you achieve that milestone, be brave and take one of the exams offered by the American College of Microbiology (e.g., ABMM, ABMLI, NRCM). Alternatively, consider taking the board exam to become a Certified Biological Safety Professional by ABSA. The population of public health laboratorians is aging significantly. Therefore, jobs will become available for the new generation of microbiologists. Consider a career in public health. To maintain a job and for career advancement it is important to engage in continuing education. These activities should be documented in your Resume or CV. Since laboratory technology is rapidly advancing, it is important to stay informed and learn new techniques. This can sometimes be accomplished via General Meetings of the ASM, ABSA, IAFP and APHL. Consider the Emerging Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program by APHL. Find a mentor.