Nancy Cox 2010
Nancy J. Cox
BS '70, Bacteriology
Nancy Cox has devoted her entire career to battling influenza. Through her work as chief of the Influenza Division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and director of the CDC’s World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology and Control of Influenza, she has helped save thousands of lives. Still facing the possibility of a global avian flu pandemic — and as influenza viruses such as the current pandemic H1N1 influenza affect public health — Cox is at work on every front, researching vaccines and devising systems for tracking new influenza viruses as they emerge and spread in the United States and around the world.
When a deadly strain of avian flu (H5N1) was found in Southeast Asia in 2003, Cox and her CDC team developed a nasal-swab test for infection with the H5N1 virus. Working with colleagues outside the CDC, her team also reconstructed the flu virus that killed tens of millions of people in 1918 to unravel the mystery of what made it so deadly. Cox is at the forefront of the government’s efforts to track and study influenza viruses domestically and to help the world prepare for the pandemics of the future.
For her leadership in preparing the United States and the international community for a potential influenza pandemic, Cox has been recognized as one of “The 100 Most Influential People of the Year” by TIME magazine in 2006, one of “15 People Who Make America Great” by Newsweek magazine, and the 2007 Federal Employee of the Year. She frequently serves as a World Health Organization adviser for vaccine strain selection and expansion of the WHO’s global influenza network. In addition to her Iowa State degree, she has a doctorate in virology from the University of Cambridge and was a post-doctoral fellow at both the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cox and her husband, Evan Lindsay, live in Atlanta, Ga. She is the mother of one daughter, Julie Lindsay, and is a life member of the ISU Alumni Association.