Dr. Estes holds the Cullen Endowed Chair of Molecular and Human Virology and is a Professor in the Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology (MVM) and in Medicine-Gastroenterology at Baylor College of Medicine. She received a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of North Carolina and did postdoctoral training in Virology and Epidemiology and Baylor College of Medicine before joining the faculty. Her current research efforts involve studies of gastroenteritis viruses (noroviruses and rotaviruses) and understanding the molecular mechanisms that regulate their replication. She has developed virus-like particle vaccines for gastroenteritis viruses (rotaviruses and noroviruses) and the norovirus vaccine is currently being tested in humans.
Dr. Estes’s laboratory has collaborated with many investigators over the years and she first cloned the Norwalk virus genome with grant support from the FDA and NOAA. She received an early appreciation of environmental virology from Drs. Joseph Melnick and Ted Metcalf at Baylor College of Medicine and has collaborated with many investigators in government and industry laboratories to develop methods to detect noroviruses and understand their epidemiology. Dr. Estes is the founding Director of the Digestive Diseases Center, which supports collaborative research across multiple institutions in the Texas Medical Center. Dr. Estes has served on local, state, national and global committees devoted to research and vaccine development including the NIH’s Virology Study Section, The Research Advisory Committee to the Texas State Coordinating Board, the United Nations Development Programme for Vaccine Development, the Diarrheal Diseases Vaccine Steering Committee of the WHO, the US-Japan Cooperative Medical Sciences Program, and the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. She was recently co-chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the NIAID. She is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and the AAAS and a member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Science, and the Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas. She is also the founding Co-Director of a new graduate program in Translational Biology and Molecular Medicine, which is designed to develop a cadre of Ph.D. researchers who have an understanding of medicine and pathobiology and are committed to working at the interface of the basic sciences and clinical medicine. She has mentored 17 graduate students and over 30 postdoctoral research associates or visiting scientists and published over 300 papers.