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A Lifetime of Scientific Curiosity Pays Off for a Leader in Infection Control
Its not every day that a personreceives an award named after him, but industry expert Martin Favero, PhD, canclaim this prize for investing more than 39 years of his life in infectioncontrol issues.
For his achievements, Favero received the Martin S. Favero Lectureship Award at the Association for Professionalsin Infection Control Epidemiology (APIC) 2003 annual meeting in San Antonio,Texas. The award will be presented every three years to honor a recognizedexpert who has made outstanding and significant lifetime contributions to thefields of disinfection, sterilization, and antisepsis. I was very honored toget it and honored by my peers who watched me receive the award, Favero says.
Favero has published more than 200 papers and book chapters infields such as environmental microbiology, public health, and disinfection andsterilization. Many have benefited immensely from his developmental work inthe discipline of infection control.
Born in Butte, Mont., Faveros interest in microbiology waskindled in his youth. A reading of The Microbe Hunter by Paul De Kruifand the purchase of a $20 microscope inspired the young Favero to investigatethat world which is not seen by the naked eye.
I used to go around looking at stuff, he says.
Favero later received his bachelors degree from GonzagaUniversity in Spokane, Wash., as well as his masters and doctorate degrees inmicrobiology from Washington State University in Pullman.
Shortly after the completion of his academic studies, Faverobegan working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), servingin a variety of positions for 32 years.
The CDC in Phoenix, Ariz. just had a brand-new lab andcoincidently had an agreement with the National Aeronautics and SpaceAdministration (NASA) to establish a research program for the sterilization ofspacecraft, he says. So, I went there and for the first 10 years of mycareer at the CDC, that is what I did.
Favero won the Apollo Achievement Award in 1969, considered atop honor for advancing the nations capabilities in aeronautics and spacethat culminated in Apollo 11s successful achievement of mans first landingon the moon.
He feels that some of his greatest accomplishments occurredduring his years as a public servant. If I had to list the achievements thatIm personally proud of with my colleagues, I guess our work on spacecraftsterilization would be No.1. We basically figured a way where they could useactual occurring bacterial spores in spacecraft assembly areas as the challengedto determine the dry-heat sterilization cycles. In getting there, we also made anumber of contributions such as methods for air sampling. We were one of thefirst to ever evaluate a laminar flow system.
He adds, The other area where our work was significant wasin hemodialysis. Our work led to some of the national standards used by theAssociation for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) and we did anumber of outbreak investigations. To this day, the CDC has looked at us as theknowledgeable body of people who know about that, not only from an epidemiologystandpoint but from a laboratory standpoint.
Favero is presently the director of scientific and clinicalaffairs at Advanced Sterilization Products (ASP), a Johnson & Johnsoncompany. Its very challenging, he says. The difference is that when I was at CDC during mylast year I served as the director of the hospital infections program, whichmeant I had 90 people answering to me. In this job, I have nobody answering tome. Its very nice and Im responsible for a number of things. Its a veryinteresting job. ASP is a very forward- looking company.
He has been instrumental in assisting ASPs staff withpresenting at professional meetings and being published, averaging 12 to 21publications in peer reviewed journals each year.
Reflecting back over his career, Favero notes some of themajor changes that have occurred in infection control. When he began in thisfield during the 60s, there was an over-emphasis on microbiology. The problemwith this was that one could never relate environmental contamination at variouslevels to infection control rates, he says. Around the late 60s to early70s, the emphasis was switched from that to doing surveillance of infections inhospitals. This is when the Study on the Efficacy of Nosocomial InfectionControl Project (SENIC) of the CDC was formed. What they basically did was showthat if you had an infection control practitioner (ICP) in a hospital and theytracked infections not just looked at laboratory cultures but actuallydetermined what the epidemiology correlates were that went a long way inhelping control infections. If you could tell the surgeon about any surgical siteinfection rates, it was very helpful.
Another change that Favero witnessed is that todays ICPsnot only have to be concerned with infection control issues, but patient safetyas well. This, coupled with the overuse of antibiotics and limited resources,are some of the things upon which ICPs focus. So, all that is coming into thehopper that infection control practitioners have to worry about. Obviously, they need to be highly trained and have a lot ofexpertise. That wasnt true in the 60s not that they didnt needexpertise but the focus was much narrower than it is now.
Favero says there is much funding of bio-terrorism work;however, that cant substitute for bona fide infection control programs. Youcant rob Peter to pay Paul because if that happens were going to have bigproblems at both the state and federal levels, he says. I think weveturned the corner on this debate. Its not going to be a problem, but thepotential is always there.