Regents Professor of Pathology and Infectious Diseases,
The Jan and Jack Creighton Endowed Chair, Senior Director of Global Health
- Paul G. Allen School for Global Health
- Professor, Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology
- Member, Center for Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases (University of Washington)
- Chairman, WSU Global Health - Kenya
- President, Global Animal Health -Tanzania
Guy Palmer DVM, PhD holds the Jan and Jack Creighton Endowed Chair at WSU where he is Regents Professor of Pathology & Infectious Diseases. The founding director of WSU’s Paul G. Allen School for Global Health, he currently leads university-wide efforts as Senior Director of Global Health.
A board-certified pathologist, Dr. Palmer leads global health programs in Africa and Central America as well as directing the Robert R. Fast Infectious Diseases Research Laboratory. He directed the NIH Training Program in Infectious Diseases from 2003-2018 and currently holds a NIH MERIT award for research on pathogen emergence. He holds a joint appointment at the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology and directs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supported Integrated PhD Program between WSU and the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology.
Dr. Palmer was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in in 2006 and was a founding member of the Washington State Academy of Science, where he served as President from 2012-2013. He is a Medical Sciences Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Following six years on the National Academies’ Board on Global Health, he currently serves the US Global Leadership Coalition and the Washington Global Health Alliance. He chairs NIH Advisory Groups for COBRE/INBRE Programs and the Biosecurity Research Institute. Dr. Palmer is an editor for the journal Infection and Immunity and serves on the editorial boards of Cellular Microbiology and NJP Vaccines.
Dr. Palmer has been recognized with Cornell’s Poppensiek Professorship, the IBM Professorship at Colby College, the Schalm Lecturership at the University of California, the Distinguished Scientist Lectureship at NIH, the Science in Medicine Lectureship at the University of Washington, and the Merck Award for Creativity. Dr. Palmer holds honorary doctorates from the University of Bern (Dr.Med.Vet., 2011) and Kansas State University (PhD, 2016).
I developed an interest in infectious diseases as an undergraduate in biology while working in a laboratory responsible for diagnosis of rabies. I followed my interest through veterinary school, pathology residency, and a PhD in infectious diseases. As a post-doctoral fellow, I had the opportunity to see first-hand the high burden of zoonotic and vector-borne infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa and, later, in Central and South America. The three pillars of my career are: i) the importance of basic research to uncover new methods for disease prevention; ii) the need for interdisciplinary approaches to effect change in public health and human opportunity; and iii) that the greatest impact is through training of future scientists, both in the U.S. and globally, to provide evidence-based solutions in health.
Outside of fellowship and sabbatical years, I’ve spent almost my entire career at WSU—a fantastic place to combine innovation in impactful research with my passions in climbing, skiing, and whitewater kayaking. I’ve had the chance to climb the highest peaks in the Andes and the Alaska range but still find the best experiences in the Pacific Northwest!
Education and Training
Dr. Palmer received his B.S. in Biology (1977, summa cum laude) and his D.V.M. (1980) from Kansas State University. He completed his residency training in pathology and is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Pathologists (1984). He received his Ph.D. in infectious diseases from WSU in 1984 and completed his NIH post-doctoral fellowship in immunology under the guidance of Professor Travis McGuire.
General Research / Expertise
In my role as Senior Director of Global Health, I direct multidisciplinary research programs on public health in sub-Saharan Africa and Central America. These programs address not only the direct effects of infectious disease on human health but also the broader impacts on food and economic security, maternal and child health, and education.
A prime example of research impact is our study among Maasai households in Kenya, in collaboration with the WSU School of Economic Sciences, that demonstrated that adoption of vaccination against an endemic livestock disease enhanced income with increased expenditures on food and health care and, most notably, on increased opportunities for girls to attend secondary school. This illustrates the ability of “out of the box” thinking to meet broad societal goals, such as education and food security, which extend well beyond disease control alone.
Our comprehensive program is centered on endemic challenges to health and well-being of vulnerable communities, primarily in east and west Africa, Central America, and Southeast Asia. The studies, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CDC, DTRA, NSF, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, and the Wellcome Trust, address a range of health challenges from rabies elimination through mass dog vaccination to improving maternal and childhood nutrition through enhanced milk and egg production and consumption, identifying determinants and consequences of vaccine uptake decisions, and identifying drivers of antimicrobial resistance at the community level with the goal of local mitigation with global benefit.
- Mosites E, Aol G, Otiang E, Bigogo G, Munyua P, Montgomery JM, Neuhouser ML, Palmer GH, Thumbi SM. (2017) Child height gain is associated with consumption of animal-source foods in livestock-owning households in Western Kenya. Public Health Nutr. 20(2):336-345. doi: 10.1017/S136898001600210X. PMID: 27515059 PMCID: PMC5233559
- Marsh TL, Yoder J, Deboch T, McElwain TF, Palmer GH (2016) Livestock vaccinations translate into increased human capital and school attendance by girls. Science Advances 2(12):e1601410. eCollection 2016. PMID: 27990491 PMCID: PMC5156515
- Lankester FJ, Wouters PAWM, Czupryna A, Palmer GH, Mzimbiri I, Cleaveland S, Francis MJ, Sutton DJ, Sonnemans DGP. (2016) Thermotolerance of an inactivated rabies vaccine for dogs. Vaccine. 34(46):5504-5511. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2016.10.015. PMID: 27729174 PMCID:
- Mosites E, Thumbi SM, Otiang E, McElwain TF, Njenga MK, Rabinowitz PM, Rowhani-Rahbar A, Neuhouser ML, May S, Palmer GH, Walson JL. (2016) Relations between Household Livestock Ownership, Livestock Disease, and Young Child Growth. J Nutr. 146(5):1118-24. doi: 10.3945/jn.115.225961. PMID: 27075911 PMCID: PMC4841921
- 'It's not going away': WSU researchers warn of antibiotic resistance
- WSU researchers treating rabies across the globe
- Leader in global health at WSU receives alumni award
- WSU researchers expand rabies vaccinations to Africa
- WSU rabies vaccination teams make profound impact
- Palmer leads project seeking to eliminate rabies deaths
- Vaccinating Dogs Against Rabies in East Africa
- A 10% increase in dog vaccination reduces human deaths by 12.4%
- WSU launches new Center for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases in Nairobi, Kenya
- NIAID Establishes Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases
- Rabies Hero campaign aims to suppress secondary disease outbreaks due pandemic
- WSU launches new COVID‑19 dashboard
- OPINION: Participating in 10-day challenge will help WSU make recovery
- 2021 V. Lane Rawlins President's Award for Distinguished Lifetime Service
- Washington on track to herd immunity, but still a ways to go
- Q&A: WSU infectious disease expert discusses COVID-19
- WSU epidemiologist: Delta variant surges are likely
- Immunization Awareness Month: An Expert Addresses Common Vaccination Myths
Dr. Palmer was elected to the National Academy of Medicine and the Washington State Academy of Science, both in 2006, and is an AAAS Medical Sciences Fellow. He was awarded honorary doctorates for his work in global health from the University of Bern (Dr.Med.Vet, 2011) and Kansas State University (PhD, 2016).
In 2021, Dr. Palmer received the V. Lane Rawlins Distinguished Lifetime Service Award.