University of Rochester

Advancement Awards

Wendi Kuhnert-Tallman

’95M (MS), ’99M (PhD)

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Dr. Wendi Kuhnert-Tallman is the associate director for laboratory sciences (ADLS) for the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID) at the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Dr. Kuhnert-Tallman works with partners throughout the United States and around to world to prevent illness, disability, and death caused by infectious diseases. She has authority over the CDC’s high contamination laboratory and provides leadership for the Center’s laboratory and laboratory services, spanning six divisions and 18 laboratory branches.

Dr. Kuhnert-Tallman earned her bachelor’s degree in animal science at the University of New Hampshire in 1992. A two-time alumna of the University of Rochester, she received her master’s degree in 1995 before completing her PhD in microbiology and immunology in 1999. After receiving her PhD, Dr. Kuhnert-Tallman joined the University’s highly competitive clinical microbiology postdoctoral fellowship, an American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and American Board of Medical Microbiology (AABMM) approved training program in clinical and public health microbiology, which she completed in 2001.

Following her postdoctoral program, Dr. Kuhnert-Tallman began her career at the CDC in 2001 as team leader for the Hepatitis Reference Laboratory. She quickly ascended the ranks within the organization, becoming deputy branch chief of the laboratory branch just two years later. From 2007 to 2011, she held various positions of increasing responsibility including acting deputy division director and ADLS, both within the Division of Viral Diseases. Dr. Kuhnert-Tallman assumed her current role as ADLS for NCEZID in 2011. Throughout her 15-year career at the CDC, Dr. Kuhnert-Tallman has lead teams that have tackled global epidemics like the HIV-AIDS and Hepatitis B and C virus crises, the Ebola outbreaks, and most recently, the Zika virus. In less than two decades, she has made significant contributions to the field of public health microbiology and biosafety at the highest national level, tracking disease outbreaks and their impact on populations at home and abroad, while coordinating efforts to manage, contain, and ultimately cure, these terrifying diseases.

Dr. Kuhnert-Tallman is a member of several professional groups and steering committees, and has participated as an expert panel member in the development and implementation of the first of its kind Guidelines for Biosafety Laboratory Competency, as well as the Competency Guidelines for Public Health Laboratory Professionals. She was appointed as the inaugural chair of the CDC’s newly established Laboratory Safety Review Board in 2015, where she oversaw the development of a standard for the validation and performance of inactivation and transfer processes for all infectious disease laboratories at the CDC.

Dr. Kuhnert-Tallman and her husband, Chris, are parents to three children and live in Atlanta, Georgia.