Research leadership: James Lawler, MD

James Lawler, MD

James Lawler, MD

This profile is part of a series to highlight the researchers who will be honored at a ceremony on March 9 for UNMC’s Scientist Laureate, Research Leadership, Distinguished Scientist, New Investigator and Community Service to Research Award recipients.

Research Leadership Award

The Research Leadership Award is intended to honor scientists previously recognized as Distinguished Scientists who have a longstanding research funding history and also serve as research leaders and mentors on campus.

  • Name: James Lawler, MD
  • Title: Director for international programs and innovation, UNMC Global Center for Health Security; professor, UNMC Division of Infectious Diseases    
  • Joined UNMC: November 2017
  • Hometown: Greenville, North Carolina

Please describe your research focus in three words: 

Pandemics and health emergencies

Why is research important in the world today? 

We learn and improve through asking questions and exploring answers.

My work will make a difference because: 

The world is more interconnected yet increasingly fragile – we must reduce our vulnerability to emerging health threats.

The best advice I could give a beginning researcher is: 

Think big, sweat the small stuff and be a good teammate.

The toughest lesson I’ve learned is: 

There is nobody out there with all the answers.

The best part of my job is: 

Being a part of a great team with a meaningful mission

Three things you may not know about me are: 

  • My wedding ring is inscribed in Elvish.
  • I was once the girl Easter Bunny at the White House Easter Egg Roll.
  • I once spent a month as the emergency room doctor in a small Alaskan hospital.


  1. Mike Wadman says:

    Congrats James! Well deserved honor. Not sure which one of the last two of your ‘things you may not know about me’ scares me more.

  2. Laurel L Ahlman says:

    Yes, congratulations! Thanks for all you have done and continue to do to educate us on the pandemic!

  3. Peter Iwen says:

    James, congratulations on this award! Let’s hope the pandemics are few and far between!

  4. Lauryn Burbridge says:

    Congratulations Dr. Lawler! True testament to your work and dedication to science.

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