Kerry L Clark

Associate Professor • Epidemiology & Environmental Health

Public Health • Brooks College of Health

Areas of Expertise

Ecology and Epidemiology of tick-borne diseases (Lyme borreliosis, human ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, rickettsiosis, anaplasmosis, and others)

Education

Ph.D. Environmental Health Sciences - 1996

(Specialization: Emphases in Arthropod Vectors and Relation to Disease, and Vector Bionomics and Field Techniques)
University of South Carolina School of Public Health
 

M.P.H. Epidemiology - 1993
University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health
 

B.S. Community Health/Public Health - 1992
Western Kentucky University
 

Biography

     Dr. Clark was born and raised in Louisville, KY. He spent much of his childhood hunting, fishing, and enjoying nature in the woods of central Kentucky. He developed strong interests in wildlife ecology and personal and public health. Eventually these interests were meshed in his pursuit of graduate studies of zoonotic and vector-borne disease ecology and epidemiology. In other words, he chose to study diseases that people contract from close contact with animals and blood feeding arthropods.

     Dr. Clark has studied Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases in the southeastern United States for the past 20 years. His studies have involved ecological investigations of Lyme Borrelia in vertebrates and ticks, as well as studies of tickborne infections in humans. Much of his work in the past decade has been focused on developing improved molecular detection methods for Lyme Borrelia and other tickborne disease agents. He was the first to identify Lyme disease bacteria in naturally infected lizards in both Florida and South Carolina. He also was the first to identify Borrelia americana and Borrelia andersonii infections in human Lyme patients in the USA. His work is demonstrating that Lyme disease is much more common in the southern U.S. than previously thought, and that Lyme disease in the U.S. is associated with multiple species of Lyme Borrelia.

     Current studies are focused on obtaining additional evidence of the presence and magnitude of Lyme disease in the South; further optimizing DNA based tests to identify Lyme infection in humans, animals, and ticks; and proving the existence of "chronic Lyme disease" as a persistent, sometimes treatment-resistent infection. He continues to test human patients, dogs, and ticks removed from humans and their pets across the Southeast. His primary interest is in correcting the current false paradigm that states that Lyme disease is rare in humans, animals, and ticks the South; and that Lyme disease is not a chronic, persistent infectious disease. He believes that the most important avenue by which to improve knowledge and understanding of the true presence and magnitude of Lyme disease is rigorously obtained scientific evidence.

 

     Dr. Clark has a strong commitment to public health. He believes that scientists, physicians and other health care providers, veterinary medicine specialists, and public health personnel should collaborate in studying and responding to public health threats posed by tickborne and other zoonotic diseases (the One Health Concept). Furthermore, he believes that all partners have a strong responsibility to work in the best interest of public health. Over the years his work has proven that scientists can make themselves more accessible to the public, and that by working with patients, clinicians, and the public in a collaborative manner leads to more rapid data collection, discovery, and dissemination of findings.

Research collaboration: Dr. Clark is currently collaborating with Dr. James H. Oliver, Georgia Southern University, and Drs. Natasha Rudenko and Marina Golovchenko from the Czech Republic in ongoing studies of Lyme borreliosis in the southern U.S.

Community group consultant:  Dr. Clark serves on the Board of Directors and as an expert scientific consultant to the Florida Lyme Disease Association (FLDA; formerly known as the  Northeast Florida Lyme Association). He also consults with other regional Lyme disease education and advocacy groups, such as the Georgia Lyme Disease Association and the Alabama Lyme Disease Association.

Community education/training/services: Each year  Dr. Clark participates in multiple events where he presents results of his research findings, and on the topic of ticks, their medical importance, and prevention of tick-borne diseases. He also provides tick identification services to the public. 

Research funding: Currently, Dr. Clark's research is funded through a UNF Research Foundation Account. This account is funded by private donations from the FLDA and other Lyme education/advocacy groups, community foundation grants, and gifts from private citizens. To learn more about how to help support his work, contact Dr. Clark directly, or contact the Brooks College of Health Director of Development at 904-620-2810.

Awards

AWARDS/RECOGNITION

Nominated for UNF Outstanding Faculty Scholarship Award 2012-2013

Alpha Chi Omega (UNF Chapter) Professor of the Month Award, October 2013

UNF Sabbatical Awarded for Fall 2011

Honorary Award of Appreciation: , in recognition of scientific contributions in study of tick-borne pathogens and dedication to protecting public health, Georgia Lyme Disease Association, Georgia State Capital, May 5, 2011.

Ed Masters Memorial Lecturer, Lyme Disease Association & Columbia University 10th Annual Lyme and Tickborne Diseases Scientific Conference: Lyme and Other Tick-Borne Diseases: 34 Years, From Lyme, Connecticut, Across the Nation, October 23, 2009, Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland

University of North Florida
2008-2009 Brooks College of Health Faculty Mentor Award
2005-6 Nominated and Applied for UNF Outstanding Faculty Scholarship Award
2005 UNF Undergraduate Student Research Award (Faculty Mentor)
2004-5 Nominated for Outstanding Teacher Award
2002 UNF Undergraduate Student Research Award (Faculty Mentor)
2002 UNF Science Undergraduate Student Research Award (Faculty Mentor)
2000 Undergraduate Student Research Award (Faculty Mentor)
2001 UNF Proposal Development Grant
2000 UNF Proposal Development Grant
1999 UNF Mini-Grant
 

Affiliations

  • American Society of Mammalogists
     
  • American Society for Microbiology
     
  • American Society of Parasitologists
     
  • Entomological Society of America
     
  • Society for Vector Ecology

Grants and Contracts Awarded

RESEARCH SUPPORT FUNDED

UNF Foundation Research Account
Effective dates: No time limit; donation made September 2013
Amount Donated: $10,000
Funding agency: Northeast Florida Lyme Disease Association
Goals: To provide funding for ongoing studies of Lyme disease and other tickborne infections in human patients in the southern United States.
Role: PI

UNF Foundation Research Account
Effective dates: No time limit; donation made in spring 2012
Amount Donated: $20,000
Funding agency: Northeast Florida Lyme Disease Association
Goals: To provide funding for ongoing studies of Lyme disease and other tickborne infections in human patients in the southern United States.
Role: PI

UNF Sabbatical Leave Award
Effective dates: Fall semester 2011
Amount: Full pay, one semester
Funded by: UNF Academic Affairs
Primary Goals: To complete several research projects and prepare manuscripts for submission to peer-reviewed journals.

UNF Foundation Research Account
Effective dates: No time limit; donation made in May 2011
Amount Donated: $15,000
Funding agency: The Community Foundation of Jacksonville, Henry & Lucy Gooding Endowment
Goals: To provide funding for ongoing studies of Lyme disease and other tickborne infections in human patients in the southern United States.
Role: PI

Lyme Disease Association Grant
Effective dates: Summer 2009 through Spring 2010
Amount requested: $10,000
Funding agency: LDA
Goals: To investigate and improve understanding of human Lyme-like illness in the United States with an emphasis on the southern U.S.; collecting and testing ticks and human patient samples; disseminating information through a study website.
Role: PI

Project title: Isolation and characterization of Lyme disease spirochetes from human patients in the southern United States
2010 UNF Brooks College of Health Summer Scholarship Grant
Effective dates: June – August 2010
Award amount: $5,000
Funding agency: UNF Brooks College of Health Dean’s Office
Goals: To attempt to isolate in pure culture the Lyme disease spirochete bacteria from human patients infected from tick bites acquired in the southern U.S., and to characterize the spirochetes using molecular techniques.
Role: PI

Southeast Jacksonville Rotary Grant
Effective dates: Summer 2009 through Spring 2010
Amount requested: $2,000
Funding agency: South JAX Rotary
Goals: To test human patient samples from Florida for various tickborne disease agents.
Role: PI

Project title: Investigation of human tickborne disease in Florida (TBDF)
UNF College of Health Dean’s Professorship
Amount requested: $60,000
Funding agency: UNF COH/Brooks Research Foundation
Proposed effective dates: Sep. 2006—Aug. 2009
Goals: To investigate the causes, tick vectors, incidence/prevalence, and geographic distribution of tickborne diseases of humans in Florida
Role: PI
Annual person-months: 12
Proposed percentage of effort: 25%

Project title: Ecology of Tick-Borne Pathogens in the Southeastern USA
UNF College of Health Dean’s Research Professorship
Effective dates: Jul. 2003—Jun. 2006
Award amount: $54,000
Funding agency: Brooks Health Foundation and UNF College of Health
Goals: The goal is to gain a more thorough understanding of the ecology of the agents of human borreliosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis in the southeastern USA to clarify ecological determinants of the presence, geographic distribution, genetic variability, reservoir hosts, tick vectors, and human disease transmission risk.
Role: PI
Annual person-months: 12
Percentage of effort: 25%

Project title: Investigation of Anaplasma phagocytophilum, agent of human anaplasmosis, in vertebrates and ticks in Florida
2006 UNF Summer Scholarship Grant
Effective dates: June – August 2006
Award amount: $5,000
Funding agency: University of North Florida
Goals: To improve understanding of the presence, host distribution, and infection prevalence of the target organism in nature in northeast Florida to facilitate the design and development of subsequent investigations, interventions, and diagnostic strategies.
Role: PI
Annual person-months: 12
Percentage of effort: 25%

Project title: Babesia microti sensu lato in small mammals in northeast Florida
2005 Undergraduate Student Research Award
Effective dates: Sep 2005-Aug 2006
Award Amount: $1,000
Funding Agency: UNF Undergraduate Academic Enrichment Program
Goals: To survey small mammals in northeast Florida for Babesia microti infection using molecular methods and to conduct preliminary genetic analyses of positive samples
Role: Faculty mentor and co-award recipient

Project title: Investigation of mosquitoes as vectors of the agents of human babesiosis and borreliosis in Florida
2005 UNF Summer Scholarship Grant
Effective dates: June – August 2005
Award amount: $5,000
Funding agency: University of North Florida
Goals: To improve understanding of the interactions among Babesia and Borrelia species, their vertebrate hosts—specifically lizards, and mosquitoes to facilitate the design and development of subsequent investigations, interventions, and diagnostic strategies.
Role: PI
Annual person-months: 12
Percentage of effort: 25%

Project title: Ecological study of B. burgdorferi and Babesia species among small vertebrates and ticks in Florida.
2004 UNF Proposal Development Grant
Effective dates: June – August 2004
Award amount: $5,000
Funding agency: University of North Florida
Goals: To collect and analyze preliminary data, and to prepare a grant application for external funding.
Role: PI
Annual person-months: 12
Percentage of effort: 25%

Project title: Investigation of Tickborne Diseases in the Southeastern USA
Effective dates: Mar. 2000—Feb. 2003
Award amount: $37,500
Funding agency: American Lyme Disease Foundation
Goals: The goals were to estimate the geographic distribution, infection prevalence among ticks, and environmental risk indices of several tickborne disease agents (Borrelia spp., Anaplasma phagocytophila, Ehrlichia chaffeensis, others) in Florida.
Role: PI
Annual person-months: 12
Percentage of effort: 12.5%

Project title: Ecologic Investigation of the Agents of Lyme Disease and Human Ehrlichiosis in Florida
College of Health Dean’s Research Professorship
Effective dates: Jul. 2000—Jun. 2003
Award amount: $54,000
Funding agency: Brooks Health Foundation and UNF College of Health
Goals: The goals were to investigate the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi and the agents of human ehrlichiosis in Florida to identify small mammal reservoirs and enzootic and zoonotic tick vectors, examine genetic variability among pathogen strains, and estimate human exposure risk, and to gather data for external grant applications.
Role: PI
Annual person-months: 12
Percentage of effort: 25%

Project title: Emerging Infectious Disease Threats: Pathogenic Rickettsia in the Southeastern USA
2003 UNF Summer Scholarship Grant
Effective dates: Jun.—Aug. 2003
Award amount: $5,000
Funding agency: University of North Florida
Goals: The goal was to identify and characterize Rickettsia species infecting various tick species at sites in northeast Florida, and to estimate risk for human rickettsiosis in the study area.
Role: PI
Person-months: 3
Percentage of effort: 25%

Project title: Investigation of Borrelia spp. bacteria infecting blacklegged ticks in Florida.
Undergraduate Student Research Award
Effective dates: Sep. 2002—Mar.2003
Award amount: $1,500
Funding agency: University of North Florida
Goals: The goal was to use DNA amplification, sequencing, and phylogenetic analysis of the flagellin gene to examine genetic variability among Borrelia spp. infecting ticks in Florida.
Role: Co-PI and Faculty mentor
Annual person-months: 12
Percentage of effort: 2%

Project title: Human Ehrlichiosis Exposure Risk in Northern Florida
2002 UNF Summer Scholarship Grant
Effective dates: Jun.—Aug. 2002
Award amount: $5,000
Funding agency: University of North Florida
Goals: The goal was to investigate the ecology of Ehrlichia chaffeensis, the agent of human monocytic ehrlichiosis, and to increase public and clinician awareness of the risk of infection in the study area.
Role: PI
Person-months: 3
Percentage of effort: 25%

Project title: Ecologic Investigation of Borrelia lonestari in Florida
2001 UNF Summer Scholarship Grant
Effective dates: Jun.—Aug. 2001
Award amount: $5,000
Funding agency: University of North Florida
Goals: The goals were to collect lone star ticks at sites in Florida, test them using molecular methods for presence of B. lonestari, and calculate environmental risk indices for exposure risk at various localities.
Role: PI
Person-months: 3
Percentage of effort: 25%

Project title: Ecology of Tick-Borne Disease Agents in the Southeastern United States: Part 1, Presence and Geographic Distribution among Ticks at Public Recreation Areas in Northern and Central Florida.
2000 UNF Summer Scholarship Grant
Effective dates: Jun.—Aug. 2000
Award amount: $5,000
Funding agency: University of North Florida
Goals: The goal was to collect and analyze data necessary to estimate and publicize the environmental risk for acquiring Lyme disease and human ehrlichiosis at various public recreation areas.
Role: PI
Person-months: 3
Percentage of effort: 25%

Project title: Investigation of the Presence and Ecology of Zoonotic Disease Agents among Rodents in North Central and Northeast Florida
1999 UNF Summer Scholarship Grant
Effective dates: Jun.—Aug. 1999
Award amount: $5,000
Funding agency: University of North Florida
Goals: The goal was to collect samples of blood, tissue, and ticks from rodents at various sites, and examine them for the presence of the agents of Lyme disease and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.
Role: PI
Person-months: 3
Percentage of effort: 25%

Project title: Investigations of the Presence and Ecology of Zoonotic Disease Agents in Mosquitoes, Ticks, and Rodents in Mississippi
1998 Aubrey Keith and Ella Ginn Lucas Endowment
Effective dates: Jun.—Aug. 1998
Award amount: $5,000
Funding agency: University of Southern Mississippi
Goals: The goal was to collect, process, identify, and analyze mosquito, tick, and rodent samples to determine population characteristics, and infection prevalence with the agents of Lyme disease and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.
Role: PI
Person-months: 3
Percentage of effort: 25%

Project title: Survey of Mosquitoes, Ticks, and Rodents at Localities in Mississippi: Direction for Future Zoonotic Disease Research
1998 USM Summer Faculty Research Grant
Effective dates: Jun.—Aug. 1998
Award amount: $7,500
Funding agency: University of Southern Mississippi
Goals: The goal was to collect mosquito, tick, and rodent samples, and to determine the presence and prevalence of infection with the agents of Lyme disease and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.
Role: PI
Person-months: 3
Percentage of effort: 50%
 

Publications & Presentations

Peer-Reviewed Publications

1) Clark, K.L., B.J. Leydet, and C. Threlkeld. 2014. Geographic and genospecies distribution of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato DNA detected in humans in the United States. Journal of Medical Microbiology Feb 25. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.073122-0.

2) Clark, K.L., B. Leydet, and S. Hartman. 2013. Lyme borreliosis in human patients in Florida and Georgia, USA. International Journal of Medical Sciences 10: 915-931.doi:10.7150/ijms.6273.

3) Clark, K., K. Savick, and J. Butler. 2012. Babesia microti in rodents and raccoons in northeast Florida. Journal of Parasitology 98: 1117-1121.

4) Clark, K.L. 2012. Anaplasma phagocytophilum in small mammals and ticks in northeast Florida. 2012. Journal of Vector Ecology37: 262-268.

5) Sumner, J.W., L.A. Durden, J. Goddard, E.Y. Stromdahl, K.L. Clark, W.K. Reeves, and C.D. Paddock. 2007. Gulf Coast ticks (Amblyomma maculatum) and Rickettsia parkeri, United States. Emerging Infectious Diseases 13: 751-753.

6) Clark, K., A. Hendricks, and D. Burge. 2005. Molecular identification and analysis of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato in lizards in the southeastern USA. Applied & Environmental Microbiology 71: 2616-2625.

7) Clark, K. 2004. Borrelia species in host seeking ticks and small mammals in northern Florida. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 42: 5076-5086.

8) Oliver, J.H., Jr., T. Lin, L. Gao, K.L. Clark, C.W. Banks, L.A. Durden, A.M. James, and F.W. Chandler, Jr. 2003. An enzootic transmission cycle of Lyme borreliosis spirochetes in the southeastern United States. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100: 11642-11645.

9) Clark, K. L., and L. A. Durden. 2002. Parasitic arthropods of small mammals in Mississippi. Journal of Mammalogy 83: 1039-1043.

10) Clark, K. L., J. H. Oliver, Jr., A. M. James, L. A. Durden, and C. W. Banks. 2002. Prevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi among rodents and host-seeking ticks in South Carolina. Journal of Medical Entomology 39: 198-206.

11) Clark, K. L., J. H. Oliver, Jr., J. M. Grego, A. M. James, L. A. Durden, and C. W. Banks. 2001. Host associations of ticks parasitizing rodents at Borrelia burgdorferi-enzootic sites in South Carolina. Journal of Parasitology 87: 1379-1386.

12) Lin, T., J. H. Oliver, Jr., L. Gao, T. M. Kollars, and K. L. Clark. 2001. Genetic heterogeneity of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato in the southern United States based on restriction fragment length polymorphism and sequence analysis. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 39: 2500-2507.

13) Oliver, J. H., Jr., K. L. Clark, F. W. Chandler, Jr., L. Tao, A. M. James, C. W. Banks, L. O. Huey, A. R. Banks, D. C. Williams, and L. A. Durden. 2000. Isolation, cultivation, and characterization of Borrelia burgdorferi from rodents and ticks in the Charleston area of South Carolina. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 38: 120-24.

14) Durden, L. A., W. Wills, and K. L. Clark. 1999. The fleas (Siphonaptera) of South Carolina with an assessment of their vectorial importance. Journal of Vector Ecology 24: 171-181.

15) Lin, T., J. H. Oliver, Jr., T. M. Kollars, Jr., and K. L. Clark. 1999. Comparative analysis of genetic variability among Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato isolated from the southern United States. Proceedings of VIII International Conference on Lyme Borreliosis and other Emerging Tick-Borne Diseases, Munich, Germany, June 20-24, 1999. P8.

16) Piesman, J., K. L. Clark, M. C. Dolan, C. M. Happ, and T. R. Burkot. 1999. Geographic survey of vector ticks (Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus) for infection with the Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi. Journal of Vector Ecology 24: 91-98.

17) Banks, C. W., J. H. Oliver, Jr., J. B. Phillips, and K. L. Clark. 1998. Life cycle of Ixodes minor (Acari: Ixodidae) in the laboratory. Journal of Medical Entomology 35: 496-499.

18) Clark, K. L., J. H. Oliver, Jr., D. B. McKechnie, and D. C. Williams. 1998. Distribution, abundance, and seasonal activities of ticks collected from rodents and vegetation in South Carolina Journal of Vector Ecology 23: 89-105.

19) Durden, L. A., C. W. Banks, K. L. Clark, and B. V. Belbey. 1997. Ectoparasite fauna of the eastern woodrat, Neotoma floridana: composition, origin, and comparison with ectoparasite faunas of western woodrat species. Journal of Parasitology 83:374-381.

20) Clark, K. L, W.W. Wills, S. H. Tedders, and D. C. Williams. 1996. Ticks removed from dogs and animal care personnel in Orangeburg County, South Carolina. Journal of Agromedicine 3:45-55.
 

ClarkContact Information

Building 39, Room 3010

(904) 620-1427

kclark@unf.edu