As director, Dr. Rayner is responsible for general administrative oversight of the LID to help ensure compliance with all federal, state and University policies. He will also promote the use of the facility in support of innovative new science that can be applied to addressing concerns with infectious diseases of importance in public health and biodefense.
“Dr. Rayner provides the department with needed expertise in virology, an underrepresented research area, especially for viruses that are a potential threat to the gulf coast area,” said Dr. David Wood, professor and chair of microbiology and immunology at the USA College of Medicine. “In addition, his experience in the private sector with public and private contracts offers the opportunity to expand our infectious disease research at the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases.”
Dr. Rayner said he plans to implement the University’s current Good Clinical Practice Program at the LID to support infectious disease diagnostics and surveillance as well as human clinical trials for infectious disease vaccines. He will also apply his extensive experience in Good Laboratory Practice regulations to the development of animal models and assays that can support early stage discovery and evaluation of medical interventions against new, emerging, and re-emerging infectious diseases like Zika virus, Chickungunya virus and antimicrobial resistant bacteria.
Dr. Rayner received his Ph.D. in microbiology at Colorado State University in 1998 as part of the Arthropod-borne and Infectious Diseases Laboratory where he studied the factors influencing vector-competence for yellow fever virus and dengue viruses. He then completed two post-doctoral research programs with the American Society for Microbiology/National Centers for Infectious Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Arthropod-borne Infectious Diseases where he studied the role of non-structural protein mutations on attenuation of dengue virus. He then evaluated the use of a replicon based vaccine platform based on the genome of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) for vaccine development with the National Research Council at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Frederick, Md.
Dr. Rayner continued his research on the VEEV replicon systems as a research scientist at AlphaVax, Inc., where he was responsible for optimizing the platform and developing vaccines targeting infectious diseases and cancer. After transferring to MRIGlobal, Dr. Rayner received extensive training in Good Laboratory Practice, ISO 9001, and program management. He served as principal investigator, program manager and study director on several large Department of Defense contracts to determine the bioweapons threat posed by neurovirulent and hemorrhagic fever viruses. He also participated in numerous commercial contracts to assess the efficacy of pre- and post-exposure therapies and stability and safety of candidate vaccines in animal models.
Immediately prior to joining the University of South Alabama, Dr. Rayner served as the Director of Infectious Disease research at Southern Research in Birmingham, AL where he extended his experience to include support of human clinical trials for new vaccines against influenza and Zika; and the development of an immunopotency assay for lot release and stability testing of vaccines under Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations.
“As director, Dr. Rayner will establish model systems for a variety of infectious diseases that can be made available to public and private investigators around the country,” Dr. Wood said. “His extensive biosafety and biosecurity background will also complement existing expertise in the department.”