Kerry L. Clark

Professor, Epidemiology & Environmental Health

Personal profile


    Dr. Clark was born and raised in Louisville, KY. He spent much of his childhood hunting, fishing, and enjoying nature in the woods of central Kentucky. He developed strong interests in wildlife ecology and personal and public health. Eventually these interests were meshed in his pursuit of graduate studies of zoonotic and vector-borne disease ecology and epidemiology. In other words, he chose to study diseases that people contract from close contact with animals and blood feeding arthropods.


     Dr. Clark has studied Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases in the southeastern United States for the past 20 years. His studies have involved ecological investigations of Lyme Borrelia in vertebrates and ticks, as well as studies of tickborne infections in humans. Much of his work in the past decade has been focused on developing improved molecular detection methods for Lyme Borrelia and other tickborne disease agents. He was the first to identify Lyme disease bacteria in naturally infected lizards in both Florida and South Carolina. He also was the first to identify Borrelia americana and Borrelia andersonii infections in human Lyme patients in the USA. His work is demonstrating that Lyme disease is much more common in the southern U.S. than previously thought, and that Lyme disease in the U.S. is associated with multiple species of Lyme Borrelia.


     Current studies are focused on obtaining additional evidence of the presence and magnitude of Lyme disease in the South; further optimizing DNA based tests to identify Lyme infection in humans, animals, and ticks; and proving the existence of "chronic Lyme disease" as a persistent, sometimes treatment-resistent infection. He continues to test human patients, dogs, and ticks removed from humans and their pets across the Southeast. His primary interest is in correcting the current false paradigm that states that Lyme disease is rare in humans, animals, and ticks the South; that seronegative Lyme disease is rare; and that Lyme disease cannot become a chronic, antibiotic-persistent infection. He believes that the most important avenue by which to improve knowledge and understanding of the true presence and magnitude of Lyme disease is rigorously obtained scientific evidence.


     Dr. Clark has a strong commitment to public health. He believes that scientists, physicians and other health care providers, veterinary medicine specialists, and public health personnel should collaborate in studying and responding to public health threats posed by tickborne and other zoonotic diseases (the One Health Concept). Furthermore, he believes that all partners have a strong responsibility to work in the best interest of public health. Over the years his work has proven that scientists can make themselves more accessible to the public, and that by working with patients, clinicians, and the public in a collaborative manner leads to more rapid data collection, discovery, and dissemination of findings.


Research collaboration: Dr. Clark is currently collaborating with Dr. James H. Oliver, Georgia Southern University, and Drs. Natasha Rudenko and Marina Golovchenko from the Czech Republic in ongoing studies of Lyme borreliosis in the southern U.S.


Community group consultant:  Dr. Clark serves on the Board of Directors and as an expert scientific consultant to the Florida Lyme Disease Association (FLDA; formerly known as the  Northeast Florida Lyme Association). He also consults with other regional Lyme disease education and advocacy groups, such as the Georgia Lyme Disease Association and the Alabama Lyme Disease Association.


Community education/training/services: Each year  Dr. Clark participates in multiple events where he presents results of his research findings, and on the topic of ticks, their medical importance, and prevention of tick-borne diseases. He also provides tick identification services to the public. 


Research funding: Currently, Dr. Clark's research is funded through a UNF Research Foundation Account. This account is funded by private donations from the FLDA and other Lyme education/advocacy groups, community foundation grants, and gifts from private citizens. To learn more about how to help support his work, contact Dr. Clark directly, or contact the Brooks College of Health Director of Development at 904-620-2810.

Education/Academic qualification

Environmental Health Sciences, Ph.D., University of South Carolina School of Public Health

1996 → …

Epidemiology, M.P.H., University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health

1993 → …

Community Health/Public Health, B.S., Western Kentucky University

1992 → …


  • Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Public Health