Team Members


  • C. Buddy Creech, MD, MPH

    Director, Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program
    Edie Carell Johnson Chair and Professor, Department of Pediatrics
    Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases

    C. Buddy Creech, MD, MPH, FPIDS is the Edie Carell Johnson Chair and Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. He serves as Director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program, Principal Investigator of the NIH-funded Vanderbilt Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit, and Co-Principal Investigator of the CDC-sponsored Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment Network. Dr. Creech’s research interests focus on the development and evaluation of new vaccines and therapeutics, particularly vaccines targeting influenza, pertussis, and S. aureus. His work combines innovative clinical trial design and next-generation immunologic assays to characterize the human response to infection and disease. He is currently leading COVID-related clinical trials at VUMC, including the evaluation of novel treatment options for hospitalized patients with COVID and clinical trials of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

    Dr. Creech received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, cum laude, from Vanderbilt University prior to graduating with high honors from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis, TN. He completed pediatric training at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, serving as Chief Resident in 2002. During fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at Vanderbilt, he trained with Dr. Kathryn Edwards and received a master’s degree in public health. He is active in the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS), where he serves as President.



  • Leigh M. Howard, MD, MPH

    Assistant Professor
    Pediatric Infectious Diseases

    Dr. Howard's research focuses on vaccine-preventable diseases that have global impact. She has extensive experience in the developing world, serving as a physician in the Baylor International Pediatrics AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) prior to completing a pediatric infectious diseases fellowship at Vanderbilt. During fellowship, she completed a master's degree in public health, devoting a portion of her time to defining health literacy and medication dosing errors in Mozambique. She now serves as a Fogarty Global Health Fellow at Vanderbilt and is working with colleagues at the Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Lusaka, Zambia (CIDRZ). She continues to work on pathogens such as influenza and other respiratory pathogens, and continues to work in the developing world. Her current research focuses on the impact of respiratory pathogens on pneumococcal carriage in an Andean cohort (Peru).

  • Natalia Jimenez, PhD, MSCI

    Research Assistant Professor
    Pediatric Infectious Diseases
    VTEU Program Coordinator

    A native of Costa Rica, Dr. Jimenez originally joined the Creech Laboratory in 2007 as a Fogarty Fellow. After completing a master's degree in clinical investigation (MSCI), she entered the inaugural class of the Vanderbilt Graduate Program in Epidemiology and was conferred a PhD in 2013. Her work focuses on observational studies of S. aureus and pertussis, clinical trials of pertussis vaccines in high-risk hosts, and laboratory studies of the clinical and molecular epidemiology of S. aureus colonization in children and young adults.

  • Shannon Walker, MD

    Assistant Professor
    Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology; Pediatric Hematology and Oncology

Clinical Team

Regulatory Team

Administrative Team

Laboratory Team

  • Nicole Soper, MT

    Laboratory Manager, Thomsen Laboratory
    Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program
    Lab Phone
    1161 21st Avenue South
    Room / Suite
    D-7235 MCN

    Ms. Soper is a licensed medical technician with extensive experience in microbiology and immunology. She is the laboratory manager for the VVRP Laboratory, overseeing projects focused on S. aureus, respiratory infections, and C. difficile infections.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Team