American immunologist and whisteblower
Rick Arthur Bright is an American immunologist and public health official. Bright is the former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, leading the authority from 2016 to 2020. In May 2020, he filed a whistleblower complaint, alleging that his early warnings about the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic were ignored and that he was moved to a new position and ousted from his role.
Early life and education
Bright was born and raised in Hutchinson, Kansas.
In 1984, Bright graduated from Hutchinson High School. After a few years at the University of Kansas, Bright received a Bachelor of Science (magna cum laude) in 1997 with a double-major in Biology (medical technology) and Physical Science (chemistry) from Auburn University-Montgomery. His undergraduate academic advisor was Jeff Barksdale. In 2002, Bright earned a Ph.D. in immunology and molecular pathogenesis (virology) from the Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine. His dissertation was titled, Studies on pathogenicity and control of H5N1 influenza A viruses in mice. Bright's doctoral advisor was Jacqueline Katz. In 2010, Bright completed the Advanced Course in Vaccinology (ADVAC) from the Fondation Mérieux and University of Geneva in Annecy, France.
After high school, from 1990 to 1992, Bright worked as a product manager in the Research & Development Department of Osborn Laboratories in Olathe, Kansas. During college, from 1994 to 1995, he was a research assistant in the Flow Cytometry Department of the Alabama Reference Lab in Montgomery, Alabama. After college, from 1997 to 2000, Bright worked at the Emory University Department of Microbiology and Immunology and in the Vaccine Research Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
From 1998 to 2002, Bright worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, in the Influenza Branch, Immunology and Viral Pathogenesis Section, where he studied Influenza A virus subtype H5N1.
From 2002 to 2003, Bright shifted to working at the pharmaceutical company, Altea Therapeutics (a subsidiary of Nitto Denko) in Atlanta, Georgia, where he was a senior research scientist in their Vaccine and Immunology Programs.
In 2003, Bright rejoined the CDC as an immunologist/virologist in their Disease Control and Prevention, Influenza Division,
Strain Surveillance Branch in Atlanta, Georgia, where he worked on their influenza antiviral drug program and focused on avian influenza. He held that position until 2006.
From 2006 to 2008, Bright returned to working in the private sector of the biotechnology industry at Novavax in Maryland, where he was vice president of their global influenza programs as well as of their vaccine research and development. During this time, he participated in World Health Organization committees on vaccine development and pandemic preparedness.
In February 2008, Bright worked at the non-profit PATH on a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant funded project as the director in vaccine manufacturing capacity building in Viet Nam. He was also the scientific director of the influenza vaccine project as well as the global vaccine development program, a position he held until October 2010.
In 2010, Bright joined the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) governmental agency Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). He was the program lead of BARDA International Programs, then in June 2011 became acting chief of the influenza antiviral drug advanced development program, a position he held until December 2011. From June 2011 to December 2015, he was both deputy director and acting director of BARDA's Influenza and Emerging Diseases Division, eventually serving as director of the division from December 2014 to November 2016. From February 2016 to November 2016, he was an incident commander in the ASPR/BARDA Zika Response.
On November 15, 2016, President Obama appointed Bright to the position of Director of BARDA. Bright succeeded founding director Robin Robinson. In addition to his role as Director of BARDA, Bright was also Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).
On April 20, 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, Bright was reassigned to the National Institutes of Health. An HHS spokesperson said Bright's new role will be to help "accelerate the development and deployment of novel point-of-care testing platforms". Bright characterized his transfer as a retaliatory demotion and asked the HHS Inspector General to investigate it. As of May 5, Bright had not reported to NIH to start his new assignment.
COVID-19 whistleblower complaint
On May 5, 2020 Bright filed a whistleblower complaint, alleging that his early warnings about the coronavirus were ignored. In his complaint, delivered through videoconference, Bright asked to be reinstated as director at BARDA, accusing the Trump Administration of firing him in retaliation for his warnings about the virus and his opposition to off-label use of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine. He also suggested that the administration was prioritizing "cronyism over science". On May 8, 2020, the United States Office of Special Counsel, an independent agency which protects whistleblowers, reported that it found reasonable grounds for an investigation, and said he should be reinstated as head of BARDA while the investigation is undertaken. However, the recommendation is not binding on HHS. On May 14, 2020 he testified before the health subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. In a written statement issued the day before, he warned that 2020 could be "the darkest winter in modern history" if the country does not undertake a vigorous response to fight the virus. "Our window of opportunity is closing. If we fail to develop a national coordinated response, based in science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities," he said
Selected works and publications
- Bright, Rick Arthur (2002). Studies on pathogenicity and control of H5N1 influenza A viruses in mice (PhD thesis). Emory University.
- Crawford, PC; Dubovi, EJ; Castleman, WL; Stephenson, I; Gibbs, EP; Chen, L; Smith, C; Hill, RC; Ferro, P; Pompey, J; Bright, RA; Medina, MJ; Johnson, CM; Olsen, CW; Cox, NJ; Klimov, AI; Katz, JM; Donis, RO (21 October 2005). "Transmission of equine influenza virus to dogs". Science (New York, N.Y.). 310 (5747): 482–5. doi:10.1126/SCIENCE.1117950. PMID 16186182. Wikidata ()
- Bright, RA; Shay, DK; Shu, B; Cox, NJ; Klimov, AI (22 February 2006). "Adamantane resistance among influenza A viruses isolated early during the 2005-2006 influenza season in the United States". JAMA. 295 (8): 891–4. doi:10.1001/JAMA.295.8.JOC60020. PMID 16456087. Wikidata ()
- Bright, Rick A.; Carter, Donald M.; Daniluk, Shannon; Toapanta, Franklin R.; Ahmad, Attiya; Gavrilov, Victor; Massare, Mike; Pushko, Peter; Mytle, Nutan; Rowe, Thomas; Smith, Gale; Ross, Ted M. (May 2007). "Influenza virus-like particles elicit broader immune responses than whole virion inactivated influenza virus or recombinant hemagglutinin". Vaccine. 25 (19): 3871–3878. doi:10.1016/J.VACCINE.2007.01.106. PMID 17337102. Wikidata ()
- Deyde, Varough M.; Xu, Xiyan; Bright, Rick A; Shaw, Michael; Smith, Catherine B.; Zhang, Ye; Shu, Yuelong; Gubareva, Larisa V.; Cox, Nancy J.; Klimov, Alexander I. (15 July 2007). "Surveillance of Resistance to Adamantanes among Influenza A(H3N2) and A(H1N1) Viruses Isolated Worldwide". The Journal of Infectious Diseases. 196 (2): 249–257. doi:10.1086/518936. PMID 17570112. Wikidata ()
- Bright, Rick A.; Carter, Donald M.; Crevar, Corey J.; Toapanta, Franklin R.; Steckbeck, Jonathan D.; Cole, Kelly S.; Kumar, Niranjan M.; Pushko, Peter; Smith, Gale; Tumpey, Terrence M.; Ross, Ted M.; Rodrigues, Mauricio (30 January 2008). "Cross-Clade Protective Immune Responses to Influenza Viruses with H5N1 HA and NA Elicited by an Influenza Virus-Like Particle". PLoS ONE. 3 (1): e1501. doi:10.1371/JOURNAL.PONE.0001501. PMC 2200794 . PMID 18231588. Wikidata ()
- Sheu, Tiffany G.; Deyde, Varough M.; Okomo-Adhiambo, Margaret; Garten, Rebecca J.; Xu, Xiyan; Bright, Rick A.; Butler, Eboneé N.; Wallis, Teresa R.; Klimov, Alexander I.; Gubareva, Larisa V. (September 2008). "Surveillance for Neuraminidase Inhibitor Resistance among Human Influenza A and B Viruses Circulating Worldwide from 2004 to 2008". Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. 52 (9): 3284–3292. doi:10.1128/AAC.00555-08. PMC 2533500 . PMID 18625765. Wikidata ()
- ^ Brangham, William; Kane, Jason (19 June 2019). "Why the race to stop the next flu outbreak starts at state fairs and the beach". PBS NewsHour.
- ^ Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (5 May 2020). "Who is Rick Bright? The Coronavirus Whistle-Blower Who Said the Trump Administration Steered Contracts to Cronies // Virus Whistle-Blower Says Trump Administration Steered Contracts to Cronies". The New York Times.
- ^ Shear, Michael D.; Haberman, Maggie (22 April 2020). "Health Dept. Official Says Doubts on Hydroxychloroquine Led to His Ouster". The New York Times.
- ^ Collins, Kaitlan; Diamond, Jeremy; Liptak, Kevin (5 May 2020). "Ousted vaccine director files whistleblower complaint alleging coronavirus warnings were ignored". CNN.
- ^ Florko, Nicholas (5 May 2020). "Vaccine expert says demotion followed criticism of coronavirus response". STAT.
- ^ a b Booker, Ashley (15 November 2016). "Hutchinson native selected for two Health and Human Services positions". The Hutchinson News.
- ^ a b c d Bright, Rick Arthur (2002). Studies on pathogenicity and control of H5N1 influenza A viruses in mice (PhD thesis). Emory University. ProQuest 276273683.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Witness Disclosure Requirement, CV: Rick A. Bright, PhD" (PDF) . Committee on Energy and Commerce, U.S. House of Representatives. 6 March 2018.
- ^ Archibald, John (8 May 2020). "Scientist at odds with Trump Admin has Alabama roots". AL.com.
- ^ a b "Rick Bright Selected as New BARDA Director". Global Biodefense. 15 November 2016.
- ^ a b "BIO 2019 – Profile – Dr. Rick Bright". 2019 BIO International Convention. 2019.
- ^ Savage, Neil (18 September 2019). "The push for better flu therapies". Scientific American.
- ^ a b "R&D Blueprint: Rick A. Bright". World Health Organization, Scientific Advisory Group members. May 2016.
- ^ Owens, Brian (1 February 2018). "Zika vaccine development: two years on from the outbreak". The Pharmaceutical Journal.
- ^ "Director Rick Bright Moves to NIH to Head COVID-19 Testing R&D". Xconomy. 21 April 2020.
- ^ "Biography: Rick A. Bright, Ph.D." U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. Archived from the original on 4 April 2020.
- ^ Segers, Grace (23 April 2020). "HHS ousts vaccine expert who pushed back on COVID-19 treatment". CBS News.
- ^ Diamond, Dan (22 April 2020). "Ousted vaccine expert battles with Trump team over his abrupt dismissal". Politico.
- ^ a b Rupar, Aaron (22 April 2020). "The HHS official overseeing coronavirus vaccine development says he was ousted after his objections to hydroxychloroquine". Vox.
- ^ Abutaleb, Yasmeen; McGinley, Laurie (5 May 2020). "Ousted vaccine official alleges he was demoted for prioritizing 'science and safety ' ". The Washington Post.
- ^ "U.S. Office of Special Counsel Complaint & Disclosure Form: R Bright Complaint (redacted). Addendum to the Complaint of Prohibited Personnel Practice and Other Prohibited Activity by the Department of Health and Human Services Submitted by Dr. Rick Bright" (PDF) . Katz Marshall & Banks. 5 May 2020.
- ^ Bright, Rick (22 April 2020). "Read: Statement from leader of federal vaccine agency about his reassignment". CNN.
- ^ Adams, Ben (23 April 2020). "Ex-BARDA chief decries science taking back seat to politics, demands investigation into Trump administration". FierceBiotech.
- ^ " ' Ousted' US vaccine expert to file complaint". BBC News. 24 April 2020.
- ^ "Dr. Bright: I was pressured to let politics, cronyism drive decisions over science". MSNBC. 5 May 2020.
- ^ Mangan, Dan (22 April 2020). "Top vaccine doctor says his concern about Trump's coronavirus treatment theory led to ouster from federal agency". CNBC.
- ^ Diamond, Jeremy; Collins, Kaitlan; Hoye, Matthew (23 April 2020). "Bright's ouster shines light on months of HHS turmoil". CNN.
- ^ Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (8 May 2020). "Federal Watchdog Says Coronavirus Whistle-Blower Should Be Reinstated as It Investigates". The New York Times.
- ^ Diamond, Jeremy; Collins, Kaitlin (May 13, 2020). "Rick Bright will warn Congress of 'darkest winter in modern history' without ramped up coronavirus response". CNN.