CAPT Guillermo “Billy” Pimentel, a native of Puerto Rico, started his military career in the US Navy Reserve as a Hospital Corpsman in 1988. A veteran of the Persian Gulf War I, he completed his enlisted service in 1996. He received a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Microbiology and a Master of Science in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus. He completed his PhD in Plant Pathology (concentration: Mycology/Population Genetics) from Washington State University in 1999. He obtained his commission as a Lieutenant in July 1999. His first duty station was as Department Head of the Microbiology Department at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, VA.
From 2003-2010, he served in multiple leadership positions at the Naval Medical Research Unit #3 (NAMRU-3) in Cairo, Egypt to include the Disease Surveillance Program, International Emerging Infections Programs, Global Disease Detection and Response Program and the Virology & Zoonotic Diseases Research Program. In these roles, CAPT Pimentel managed over 25 scientific research projects with efforts of implementing and strengthening laboratory-based disease surveillance capacity in the Middle East, Central Asia, Former Soviet Union countries, North Africa and West Africa.
In collaboration with the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he led multiple research and surveillance studies aimed to understand the epidemiology of bacterial meningitis, acute febrile illness of unknown origins, severe respiratory infections and influenza (e.g. avian influenza H5N1 and pandemic H1N1) surveillance. As part of his duties, CAPT Pimentel has traveled extensively developing joint collaborative research projects important for force health protection, conducting laboratory assessments of hospital and central public health laboratories as part of the global health security agenda and trained hundreds of clinicians, researchers and technicians in laboratory diagnostic procedures, biosafety and good clinical laboratory practices. He provided laboratory support during several H5N1 outbreaks in West Africa and Central Asia. During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, he coordinated and led the NAMRU-3 outbreak response support to deployed forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and Ministries of Health in 20 countries.
In 2010, he reported to the Biological Defense Research Directorate (BDRD) at the Naval Medical Research Center. As Program Manager for the International Field Microbiology group, he worked in Pakistan providing laboratory support to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. In 2011, he was selected as the Deputy Director of BDRD overseeing multiple biodefense research projects and the production of critical detection assays widely used by the Department of Defense and other US Federal Government agencies. In addition, he led the only four Navy Medicine rapid deployable mobile laboratories responsible for the detection of biowarfare agents and infectious diseases. He successfully led the deployment of two Navy mobile labs detecting the Ebola virus in support of Operation United Assistance in Liberia. His mobile labs were instrumental in reducing lab results turn-around-time to just four hours. The President of the United States recognized his contribution as part of the US Government Ebola response in West Africa. In August 2015, CAPT Pimentel reported to the Naval Medical Research Unit No. 6 (NAMRU-6) in Lima, Peru as Executive Officer. In March 2017, he took command of NAMRU-6 as the 5th Commanding Officer. His personal awards includes the Meritorious Service Medal (3); Navy and Marine Commendation Medal (3); Navy and Marine Achievement Medal.