Introducing Carl Gelhaus, Ph.D. He develops and tests drugs, vaccines, decontamination agents, and other products that combat infectious diseases.
We are delighted to introduce you to Carl Gelhaus, Ph.D., a Principal Scientist at MRIGlobal with oversight for all animal models of bacterial disease, project team efforts, laboratory operations and compliance with security and safety regulations per standard operating procedure policies.
Dr. Gelhaus has years of experience in infectious disease, with emphasis on bioweapons and bioterror threats. Gelhaus’ specialties include immunology in a diverse range of topics; animal models of disease; handling bacterial select agents under BSL-3 and ABSL-3 conditions; transplantation, diabetes, and Good Laboratory Practices.
When did you know you wanted to be a scientist?
I knew I wanted to be a scientist when I was 7 years old, after reading a children’s book on the rocket scientist Robert Goddard.
What was your pathway to becoming a scientist?
I attended the University of Cincinnati, where I studied biological sciences. I became fascinated with the immune system and how it defended the body against invading pathogens. I have family members and friends who are Type 1 diabetics, so I became interested in how the immune system mistakenly attacks the body, damaging the pancreas, and causing diabetes. I graduated six months early and took a contract position at Procter and Gamble, researching how Tide Plus Bleach killed 99.9% of bacteria. This introduced me to the world of regulated research and how science could be used to bring products to market. I then went to graduate school at the University of Colorado Health Science Center (UCHSC) in Denver to get a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology. I was taught by one of the best immunology faculties in the world, meeting Nobel laureates, being taught by the people whose work was described in my textbooks. At UCHSC, I was able to work at the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes. I worked on medicines to allow pancreatic islet transplants to restore the lost pancreatic function in diabetic patients. This further gave me an understanding of how science can be applied to medical products and the process involved in showing that new treatments are safe and effective.
Shortly after the anthrax letter attacks, I attended the American Transplant Conference in Washington DC. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist addressed the conference, stating that the nation needed scientists to address the concerns of bioterrorism and transplant immunologists had unique and necessary skills in this fight. I was inspired by his speech and after completing my Ph.D., I accepted a post-doctoral fellowship at the United States Army Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. There I learned more about microbiology and biodefense pathogens. After that, I went on to my career testing and evaluating medical countermeasures of infectious diseases.
What is your role at MRIGlobal?
I am a Principal Scientist at MRIGlobal. I plan, execute, and report the results of experiments to develop and test drugs, vaccines, decontamination agents, and other products that combat infectious diseases.
What excites you about working at MRIGlobal?
What we do has tremendous impact on the world. Like many of my colleagues at MRIGlobal, I went to West Africa to help control the Ebola outbreak. I have worked on medical countermeasures for anthrax, plague, smallpox. I have investigated animal models for Zika virus. I am currently heavily involved in testing a variety of products against COVID-19. The work is never boring and always of immediate relevance to the health of the world.
What are your interests outside of work?
I am enjoying life with my wife and five kids. I am a member of the board of Ars Biotechnica, a non-profit organization that introduces high school students to synthetic biology and scientific publication. I am a youth football coach and enjoy helping the Cub Scouts shape young people into leaders through crafts and outdoorsmanship.