7th CSC officer also renowned scientist

by Capt. Franklin Huffman
7th Civil Support Command

In an ever changing global security environment with new threats emerging around the globe, Army Reserve Soldiers with specialized skill sets are valuable assets.

Maj. Dana Perkins, who currently serves in the office of the surgeon for the 7th Civil Support Command in Kaiserslautern, is one of those Soldiers. Since joining the U.S. Army in December 2003, Perkins has completed 35 Army training courses, the Captain’s Career Course and certifications as a senior and master Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Consequence Management specialist.

Perkins is fluent in four languages, English, Italian, French, and her native Romanian, and holds several degrees. She is a graduate from the University of Bucharest with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and immunology and Master of Science in biochemistry and virology. Perkins also attended the University of Maryland – Baltimore and earned her Ph.D. in pharmacology and experimental therapeutics and neurovirology. In her civilian career, she serves as chief of the Biological Weapons Nonproliferation and Counterterrorism Branch, Office of Policy & Planning, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness & Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Washington, D.C.

“I am most proud of the life path that took me from a small town in Transylvania to Washington, D.C., to being an officer in the U.S. Army and to representing the United States at the Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva,” Perkins said. “My career not only shows the diversity of jobs a scientist can have, but also the multitude of approaches the U.S. is taking to protect and preserve the global security.”

Perkins said it was her mother who pushed her into a science career.

“I spent a lot of time doing my homework in her medical office while waiting for her to finish her duties each day,” said Perkins, the winner of the National Collegiate Inventors Competition in 2001. “I got to see a lot of the patient cases that came through, including terrible traumas and chronic diseases and my mother would explain the cases to me just like I was a medical student.

“The old Chinese proverb applies. If you enjoy your job, you’ll never work a day in your life. That’s how I feel,” Perkins continued.

After coming to America in 1995, Perkins began working with a biotech company in Baltimore, but quickly wanted to renew the dedication to learning.

“I needed to go back to school to improve my knowledge of molecular biology,” Perkins said. “Science advances fast and one can’t keep being relevant in the field without a commitment to lifelong learning. So I quit my job and went to the University of Maryland to get a Ph.D.”

While Perkins’ civilian career continued to progress, the call to service for the Army Reserves also put her in several important positions, including the chief of Clinical Microbiology Laboratory Services at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. (two tours); the category II translator and interpreter in counterintelligence; a microbiologist at the U.S. Army Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa; the chief of Clinical Immunology and Molecular Diagnostics Laboratories at Fort Lewis, Wash.; and the CBRN threat instructor at Fort Lewis.

Perkins brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and contacts to the Office of the Surgeon for the 7th CSC, including efforts to keep microorganisms that can be engineered for lethal purposes or even synthesized chemically from scratch out of the wrong hands. Her ability to understand what makes germs do what they do and how we can treat the diseases they cause is a force-enabler for the 7th CSC and the U.S. Army.

Perkins’ civilian expertise in international nonproliferation regimes, global health security and public health preparedness and response to WMD events is critical in the current operational environment and the 7th CSC’s foreign consequence management mission. Our national and international security is shaped to a greater degree than ever by foreign affairs, global health security, economic and informational factors. The 21st century challenges require we play a vital role in theater security cooperation and engagement and executing both military and humanitarian operations.

During her time in the Army, Perkins has published, or co-published, 16 scientific articles in a host of military and military-related journals and publications, including Joint Combined Microbiology Training in Support of New and Emerging Bio-Warfighting Capabilities, USAR Consequence Management Unit; Relevant and Ready, Biological Risk Management Overhaul, International Mechanisms for Investigation of Alleged Use of Biological Weapons, and Biological Weapons Convention; and A Primer for Armed Forces Medical Laboratory Scientists, among many others.

Perkins is just one of the of warrior-citizens in the Army Reserve with unique and specialized skills, knowledge, and abilities that enhance the Army Reserve and the 7th Civic Support Command’s operational force capabilities to secure our homeland and strengthen our nation.