Greg Farrell Earns CDC Lifetime Achievement Award

Virology Laboratory staff member Greg Farrell is the inaugural recipient of the National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS) Lifetime Achievement Award.

Unsolicited. Inaugural. Lifetime Achievement. Weighty words.

An unexpected envelope found its way to the mailbox of the Wadsworth Center’s Virology Laboratory. It contained a letter from the CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases Director and a certificate declaring, this is “an honor reserved for NREVSS participants who have achieved career longevity and demonstrated unwavering excellence to their commitment to the NREVSS program.”

Greg Farrell and Dr. Kirsten St. George

Greg Farrell holds CDC Lifetime Achievement Award presented to him by Dr. Kirsten St. George, Chief of the Laboratory of Viral Diseases, during a recent staff meeting.

While the Virology Laboratory staff had no advance knowledge of the award, they were not surprised. After working with Greg and benefitting from his countless contributions, everyone who knows him wholeheartedly agrees with and appreciates the selection. In fact, when it was announced during a lab meeting that Greg had been selected for the award, staff spontaneously erupted in cheers.

Greg had only just retired after more than twenty years as the lab’s data manager. His impact was not limited to NREVSS surveillance reporting. He accurately accounted for tracking and recording thousands of test results every week in dozens of databases, tracing possible glitches, submitting data to staff scientists, collaborators, state epidemiologists and the CDC, and generating countless data reports for grants and contracts, all with meticulous attention to detail and a willing energy and enthusiasm. On a conference call regarding conversion from manual to electronic surveillance reporting, CDC staff once joked that they always trusted Greg’s manual analysis over any computer-generated reports - a sentiment shared by many.  

CDC’s award letter went on to inform Greg that his patience and efforts had not gone unnoticed, and that his dedication and thorough reporting had resulted in numerous publications and aided the CDC team as well as their internal and external partners.

What the letter does not capture is that Greg’s care and dedication was not limited to data. His thoughtfulness extended to the workplace and the people around him. For years, Greg prepared lab workstations to save staff time and stress, volunteered for the building’s Tenant Safety Organization, and collected and returned bottles year-round to buy toys for the annual Toys for Tots drive. Beyond that, Greg always noticed when someone was down or missed their lunch, and a snack or drink would invariably appear on their desk. His kindness, much like his work ethic, was truly extraordinary.

Please join us in extending congratulations for this well-earned recognition to Greg Farrell.

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