Outstanding Individuals Honored for Achievements in the Field of Infectious Diseases

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the IDSA Education and Research Foundation are honoring nine dedicated individuals for outstanding achievements in the field of infectious diseases. The honorees will be recognized at IDWeek 2016 in New Orleans.

Among the honors is the Alexander Fleming Award, a lifetime achievement recognition granted to IDSA members or fellows for a career that reflects major contributions to the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge about infectious diseases. This year’s Alexander Fleming Award honorees are Carol J. Baker, MD, FIDSA, FSHEA, FPIDS, a strong advocate for children’s health who has greatly advanced the understanding of group B streptococcal (GBS) disease, and P. Frederick Sparling, MD, FIDSA, a recognized leader in the study of Neisseria gonorrhoeae and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Carol Baker, MD, FIDSA, FSHEA, FPIDS: Children’s Health Advocate

A tireless advocate for newborns and their families, Baker recognized the devastating effects of early and late GBS infections in infants in 1973. Her research and advocacy paved the way for universal screening and treatment of GBS in pregnant women, leading to an 80 percent decline in this disease among newborns. Additionally, her efforts contributed to the development of a vaccine given to women to prevent neonatal GBS infections, which is in late phase clinical trials.

Baker is a professor of pediatrics, molecular virology, and microbiology at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where she has mentored many medical students and residents and inspired them to pursue careers in pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases. A prolific author, she has published nearly 400 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. She received several awards for her work, including repeated recognition as one of the Best Doctors in America.

P. Frederick Sparling, MD, FIDSA: Advancing Treatment of STIs

Sparling dedicated his 45-year career to improving the diagnosis and treatment of STIs. His research, first published in the late 1970s in two influential articles – published in Science and Nature – described the groundbreaking discovery of the conjugal transfer of penicillinase-producing plasmids among N. gonorrhoeae. He continued to work to unravel the structure and function of outer membrane proteins and the molecular basis of porins, determining how these pathogens acquire iron and lead to infection. Much of what we know about N. gonorrhoeae – including the mechanisms of infection and antibiotic resistance – is due to Sparling’s tireless research. 

Retired in 2014, Sparling is now an emeritus professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology at the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine. During his career, he received many awards, published more than 200 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and co-edited several textbooks on STIs.

“IDSA gratefully recognizes Drs. Baker and Sparling for their dedication to enhancing the field of infectious diseases,” said Johan S. Bakken, MD, PhD, president of IDSA. “Their contributions to the field and to those they’ve supported as mentors, colleagues and trusted consultants throughout their distinguished careers have had a profound impact on public health.”

Other awards presented during IDWeek 2016 include:

• The Oswald Avery Award recognizes outstanding achievement in infectious diseases by a member or fellow of IDSA who is 45 or younger. This year Susan S. Huang, MD, MPH, FIDSA, FSHEA, of the University of California, Irvine, is being recognized for her work to prevent antibiotic-resistant healthcare-associated infections. She led clinical trials to assess effective methods of decolonization, including the widely cited REDUCE MRSA trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2013.

• The Society Citation Award is given in recognition of exemplary contribution to IDSA, outstanding discovery in the field of infectious diseases, or a lifetime of outstanding achievement in a given area – whether research, clinical investigation or clinical practice. This year awards go to:
o Bruce G. Gellin, MD, MPH, FIDSA and Martin G. Myers, MD, FIDSA, FPIDS – Founder of the National Network for Immunization Information (NNii), Dr. Gellin also served as its executive director from 1998 to 2002. He launched a variety of initiatives that define the organization, including tracking immunization issues in state legislatures, the media and in public debates; providing testimony at congressional hearings and state legislatures; publishing research on immunization issues and attitudes; and launching the NNii website, an important source of information about vaccines. Dr. Myers served as NNii’s executive director from 2003 to 2014, expanding its role to become a platform for informing the public about the safety and efficacy of vaccines. He also worked to enhance the website, including by making content available in Spanish, leading to a monthly viewership of more than 146,000.
o Mark A. Leasure – IDSA’s recently retired chief executive officer, Leasure dedicated his nearly 20 years with the Society to elevating its profile. Under Leasure’s leadership, the Society’s membership and professional attendance at the annual meeting doubled, staff increased from five to more than 40 and the organization’s net assets tripled.

• The Watanakunakorn Clinician Award honors the memory of Dr. Chatrchai Watanakunakorn and is given by the IDSA Education and Research Foundation to an IDSA member or fellow in recognition of outstanding achievement in the clinical practice of infectious diseases. This year’s awardee is Wilbert H. Mason, MD, MPH, FIDSA, of the University of Southern California, whose 40-year career has been dedicated to treatment, teaching and research in pediatric infectious diseases. He is known for his treatment of Kawasaki disease and served as the sole ID practitioner in CHLA’s Kawasaki Clinic, which has cared for more than 1,000 patients over the last 25 years.

• The Walter E. Stamm Mentor Award, which honors late past-president Walter E. Stamm, MD, is presented to an IDSA member or fellow who has been exceptional in guiding professional growth of infectious diseases professionals. This year’s winner is Steven M. Holland, MD, FIDSA, of the National Institutes of Health. A researcher and clinician, Dr. Holland has been an exceptional mentor for 20 years to numerous post-doctoral research fellows and clinical fellows, in the clinic and the lab. Many still turn to him for advice, and in turn have been inspired to mentor others.

• The Clinical Teacher Award honors a career dedicated to excellence in teaching fellows, residents or medical students, and motivating them to teach the next generation. This year’s honoree is Rashida A. Khakoo, MD FIDSA, FSHEA, of West Virginia University, who has taught thousands of students, house staff and physicians who have, in turn, taught others. As assistant vice president for faculty development, Dr. Khakoo developed an innovative faculty development program used at her institution’s multiple schools, which has become a model for other medical schools.

“IDSA is delighted to honor the accomplishments of these esteemed individuals,” said Dr. Bakken. “We thank them for their dedication and tireless work advancing field of infectious diseases and the greater public health.”

Source: Infectious Diseases Society of America

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