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2013 General Meeting Award Laureates

The Committee on Awards is pleased to announce the 2013 General Meeting award laureates. Biographical sketches of the 2013 awardees appear below and in the next two issues of Microbe.

ABMM/ABMLI Professional Recognition Award

The winner of the 2013ABMM/ ABMLI Professional Recognition Award is Gary Doern, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City. This award was established over 20 years ago to recognize a Diplomate of the American Board of Medical Microbiology (ABMM) or the American Board of Medical Laboratory Immunology (ABMLI) for exceptional contributions to the advancement of the profession. As a former Chair of ABMM, as well as someone who has been involved in every part of the ABMM examination process, Doern clearly exemplifıes the intent of the award.

In 1970, Doern received his B.S. degree from Northwestern University. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in Pathology from the Medical College of Wisconsin in 1977. Following two years of postdoctoral training in clinical microbiology at the University of Oregon Health and Sciences Center in Portland, he became Director of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratories at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester, where he remained for 18 years. In 1997, he moved to the University of Iowa College of Medicine as Professor of Pathology and Director of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratories at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics. In 2008, he retired as Professor Emeritus from his position at the University of Iowa.

Karen Carroll, John Hopkins University School of Medicine, credits Doern for having a profound impact on her career. “His strong encouragement and exemplary laboratory management, scientifıc acumen and mentorship of medical technologists, residents, and fellows inspired me to seek a fellowship in medical microbiology,” says Carroll.

In addition to his outstanding work as a professor and mentor, Doern has also made numerous contributions to the ABMM community through his volunteering at ASM and other organizations. He has been Vice Chair of the American Board of Medical Microbiology, a member of the ICAAC program committee, a voting member of the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute, as well as a member of many otherASM committees. He has also served the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Society for Clinical Pathology. Currently Doern is the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology (JCM) and serves on the editorial boards of four other journals about infectious diseases and clinical microbiology.

As “JCM’s Editor in Chief, Doren has reinvigorated the journal with superb minireviews and challenging point-counterpoint articles. His focus is on clinical and scientifıc issues that enhance the value of clinical microbiology and clinical microbiologists,” explains Melvin Weinstein. Weinstein goes on to say that Doern “recently organized ‘Camp Clinical Micro,’ a symposium that brought together microbiologists from around the U.S. and individuals from the diagnostics industry, to address unanswered questions in infectious diseases diagnosis. The event was extraordinarily educational and promoted professional interactions in an informal setting.”

Doern has received numerous honors, including the Outstanding Medical Educator Award for his teaching activities at UMMC and the University of Iowa College of Medicine for 21 of his 29 years at those institutions and the distinguished Becton-Dickinson Award from ASM for lasting contributions to the discipline of clinical microbiology. He has delivered well over 500 invited lectures in various medical-scientifıc educational forums worldwide. Doern is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and the Infectious Disease Society of America.

Carski Foundation Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award

The recipient of the 2013 Carski Foundation Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award is Graham Hatfull, University of Pittsburgh, Pa. The Carski Award is given in recognition of an educator for exemplary teaching of microbiology to undergraduate students and encouraging them to pursue further achievement. Hatfull personifıes the spirit of this award.

Hatfull received his undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences from Westfıeld College, University of London in 1978, and his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Edinburgh University in 1981. His postdoctoral work was completed at Yale University with Nigel Grindley, and at the Medical Research Council at Cambridge University, with Fred Sanger and Bart Barrell. Hatfull has been at the University of Pittsburgh since 1988 and served as Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences from 2003 to 2011. According to his nominator Sam Donovan, University of Pittsburgh, during Hatfull’s “eight-year tenure as the chair of the Department of Biological Sciences Graham spearheaded a department-wide effort to dramatically increase undergraduates’ participation in course-based and laboratory research. He leads by example, including many undergraduates in his research team, teaching courses where students pursue their own projects, and regularly publishing with undergraduate coauthors.”

As one of the inaugural Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Professors in 2002, Hatfull developed the Phage Hunters Integrating Research and Education (PHIRE) program as a platform for introducing novice students to authentic scientifıc research (Microbe, June 2010, p. 243). In 2007, this served as the basis for development of the HHMI Science Education Alliance Phage Hunters Advancing Genome Evolutionary Science (SEA-PHAGES), which is used to teach undergraduate students how to isolate, characterize, and annotate the genomes of bacteriophages. It allows undergraduates to conduct original research as part of a national research community. This transformative program is being used as a model by many other institutions and has made signifıcant impact on the students and research being conducted. Karen Klyczek, University of Wisconsin—River Falls, says that “as a result of this program we have seen higher student retention, students seeking additional research experiences, and other benefıts of engaging students in research early in their careers.”

Currently, Hatfull’s research focuses on the molecular genetics of the mycobacteria and their bacteriophages. These studies take advantage of Hatfull the intimacy of phage-host interactions to gain insights into the genetics and physiology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of human TB. Integrated research-education programs such as the PHIRE and SEA-PHAGES programs have generated a large collection of completely sequenced mycobacteriophage genomes that provide insights into viral diversity and evolution, and represent a rich toolbox of new approaches to understanding M. tuberculosis. Development of vector systems, selectable markers, recombineering approaches, expression tools, and insights into mycobacterial biofılms reflect some of the useful applications of this genomic resource.

In addition to being a wonderful teacher, Hatfull has published more than 120 peer-reviewed research articles, 28 book chapters or reviews, and two books. He has received funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1989 and has mentored 18 Ph.D. students, over 100 undergraduate student researchers, and 16 postdoctoral associates. He has received the University of Pittsburgh Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award at both the junior and senior level and the University of Pittsburgh Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, and holds the Eberly Family Professorship in Biotechnology. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a teaching fellow of the National Academy of Science. He has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor since 2002.

EMD Millipore Alice C. Evans Award

SteitzJoan Steitz
, Yale University, NewHaven, Conn., has won the 2013 EMD Millipore Alice C. Evans Award. This award is given in honor of Alice C. Evans, who, in 1928, became the fırst woman elected as ASM President, and recognizes individuals who have made signifıcant contributions toward the full advancement of women in microbiology. Jo Handelsman, Yale University, describes Steitz as “a towering fıgure among women in science. She has had a sustained impact on women through personal contact and advocacy as well as through her efforts to change policies and institutions that hinder their advancement.”

Steitz graduated from Antioch College in 1963 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. Signifıcant fındings from her work emerged as early as 1967, when her Harvard Ph.D. thesis with Jim Watson examined the test-tube assembly of a ribonucleic acid (RNA) bacteriophage (antibacterial virus) known as R17. Over the next three years in postdoctoral studies at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England, Steitz used early methods for determining the biochemical sequence of RNA to study how ribosomes know where to initiate protein synthesis on bacterial mRNAs. In 1970, she was appointed assistant professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale, and became a full professor in 1978. At Yale, she established a laboratory dedicated to the study of RNA structure and function. In 1979, Steitz and her colleagues described a group of cellular particles called small nuclear ribonucleoproteins (snRNPs), a breakthrough in understanding how RNA is spliced. Subsequently, her laboratory has defıned the structures and functions of other noncoding RNPs, such as those that guide the modifıcation of ribosomal RNAs, and several produced by transforming herpes viruses. Today, her studies of noncoding RNAs include microRNAs.

According to Judith Voet, Swarthmore College, Steitz “has been outspoken in her support for women in science, exemplifıed most recently by her participation in the Committee on Maximizing the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering, which produced in 2006, ‘Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfılling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering,’ a major report about the status of women in science from the National Academy of Sciences.” Steitz has won numerous honors as amentor and advocate for women in science, including the L’Oréal Award for Women in Science with the support of UNESCO in 2001 and the Weizmann Women and Science Award in 1994, and she is recognized in the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame. Steitz is also an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a Fellow of the American Academy ofMicrobiology, and amember of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine. Christine Guthrie, University of California, San Francisco, says that “throughout my career she has been a trusted advisor, whose wisdom and kindness is unsurpassed.” It is with these qualities that make Steitz a worthy recipient of the EMD Millipore Alice C. Evans Award.

ASM Graduate Teaching Award

The recipient of the 2013 ASM Graduate Teaching Award is Jo Handelsman, Yale University, New Haven, Conn. This award is given to an individual for the distinguished teaching of microbiology and mentoring of students at the graduate and postgraduate levels, and for encouraging students to subsequent achievement. Handelsman’s nominator, Eric V. Stabb, describes her as spreading “excellence in graduate teaching through publications, course materials, and service to groups such as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the ASM Committee on Graduate Education.”

Currently, Handelsman is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale University. She received her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin- Madison in 1984 and served on the faculty there from 1985 until moving to Yale in 2010. Her research focuses on the genetic and functional diversity of microorganisms in soil and insect gut communities. She is one of the pioneers of functional metagenomics, an approach to accessing the genetic potential of unculturable bacteria in environmental samples for discovery of novel microbial products.

In addition to her research program,Handelsman is also known internationally for her efforts to improve science education and increase the participation of women and minorities in science at the university level. She cofounded theWomen in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute at UW-Madison, which has designed and evaluated interventions intended to enhance the participation of women in science. Her leadership in education and women in science led to her appointment as the fırst President of the Rosalind Franklin Society and to serve on the National Academies’ panel that wrote the 2006 report “Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfılling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering.”

Handelsman’s former graduate students now occupy positions in academic and private-sector research laboratories. Anne Dunn, University of Oklahoma, a former Ph.D. student in Handelsman’s lab, provides a fırst-hand account of the impact Handelsman has on her students. Dunn says, “During my time in her lab, there were approximately six to seven graduate students. Despite this number, she found time to interact with all students on a daily basis, advising us on writing, teaching, oral presentations, and research. In addition she impacted students beyond her lab, through teaching a graduate level course on effective teaching and by making herself available to graduate students in general for advice.”

Handelsman is coauthor of three books about teaching: Entering Mentoring, Scientifıc Teaching, and Biology Brought to Life. Stabb says, “I have used the Entering Mentoring handbook that she helped develop in workshops, and not only do graduate students fınd it useful, but such workshops would probably not exist if not for Jo’s efforts.” She also coedits the series Controversies in Science and Technology. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, Wisconsin Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the AAAS; member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering; Director of the Center for Scientifıc Teaching at Yale; and co-Director of the National Academies Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education in Biology. She was elected to serve as president of ASM 2013–14; has received numerous awards in recognition of her mentoring, teaching, and research contributions; and in 2009, Seed magazine named her “A Revolutionary Mind” in recognition of her unorthodox ideas. In 2011, she was one of 11 individuals selected by President Barack Obama to receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring and recently cochaired a working group that produced the report to the President, “Engage to Excel: Producing OneMillion Additional College Graduates with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics,” about improving STEM education in postsecondary education.

William A. Hinton Research Training Award.

GammieAlison Gammie, Ph.D., Princeton University, Princeton, N.J., has been honored with the 2013 William A. Hinton Research Training Award. Given in honor of William A. Hinton, a physician-research scientist and one of the fırst African-Americans to join ASM, this award is presented to an individual who has made exceptional contributions toward promoting the research training of underrepresented minorities in microbiology. Gerald Fink, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, describes Gammie as “the spirit behind Princeton’s ambitious agenda for immersing minority students in basic research.”

Gammie received her B.A. in Biology from Reed College and her Ph.D. from the Oregon Health and Sciences University. Currently Gammie is a Senior Lecturer at Princeton University. In addition to being a teacher, mentor, and researcher, Gammie is also Director of the Molecular, Quantitative & Computational Summer Undergraduate Research Program, Director of Diversity Programs & Graduate Recruiting in Molecular and Quantitative & Computational Biology, and an Associate Member at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Lynn Enquist, Chair of the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton, says that Gammie “is an outstanding teacher and mentor, and is the driving force for much of our undergraduate activities.” In 2004, Gammie was honored with the Princeton University President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. Gammie’s research uses yeast as a model organism to understand how defects in DNA mismatch repair lead to cancer in higher organisms.

Gammie’s dedication to increasing the representation of women and minorities in biomedical science is evidenced by her former research students, 86% of whom are women and 38% of whom are underrepresented minorities. The advanced, inquiry-based laboratory course that Gammie has designed and taught helps students learn a variety of skills and techniques while conducting original research on the role of DNA mismatch repair and a common hereditary cancer syndrome. The topic was specifıcally chosen to capture the interest of a wide array of students, including those interested in physics, engineering, chemistry, and biology. Because of its success, many educators have contacted Gammie about implementing aspects of her course.

Through her work as Director of the Princeton Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Summer Undergraduate Research Program, and the Diversity Programs & Graduate Recruiting in Molecular and Quantitative & Computational Biology, Gammie has helped the Princeton community increase diversity. The latter program was created by Gammie in order to address the underrepresentation of certain minority students in the Molecular Biology, Quantitative & Computational Biology, and Neuroscience graduate programs at Princeton. As a result of implementing numerous outreach activities, such as expanding the summer undergraduate research program, increasing Princeton’s presence at national meetings for underrepresented minorities, and reaching out to minority-serving institutions, underrepresented minorities have risen from less than 1% of each incoming graduate class to approximately 23% of each class. The Diversity Program is concerned not only with recruiting talented underrepresented minority students, but also with making sure that these students have the knowledge and skills to succeed as scientists by the completion of their Ph.D. programs. Cynthia Bauerle, assistant director in Science Education at HHMI and former biology chair at Spelman College, has been impressed with Gammie’s Diversity Program, noting that it “reflects an understanding of the need for balancing long-term commitment with ongoing ‘realtime’ efforts to both develop and support a more diverse graduate student population.”

Raymond W. Sarber Awards

The 2013 Raymond W. Sarber Awards have been given to Riley Ennis, undergraduate student, Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H., and Jevgenia Zilberman-Rudenko, M.D.-Ph.D. student, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland. Established in honor of Raymond W. Sarber, whose contributions to ASM have led to the growth and advancement of the Society, these awards acknowledge students at the undergraduate and predoctoral levels for excellence in research and potential.

EnnisDuring Ennis’ fırst biology class, he became fascinated with siRNA. Learning about this primitive immune system triggered a passion for molecular biology and microbiology and, later, a realization of how science can have the social impact to change the world. Ennis credits his love of the ocean for leading him to science at a young age. From a documentary about horseshoe crabs, he learned that horseshoe crabs make a protein that binds to bacteria and tells the body to destroy whatever it is bound to. He wondered whether vaccines against cancer could be based on the horseshoe crab system. In 2010, his elucidation of this insight came in fırst at the Virginia State Science and Engineering Fair and placed second at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. In October of 2010, Ennis started a licensing company, Immudicon LLC, which focuses on licensing cancer vaccine platform technology. This biotechnology company has been recognized by the BIO Convention’s Bio- GENEius Challenge, Fox News Live Solutions America, AXA Equitable Achievement Award, GEFocus Forward Competition, National Young Inventors Gallery, and the Virginia Academy of Science. Lawrence Mahan, Children’s National Medical Center, became a business/scientifıc development mentor for Ennis and describes him as “a bright and energetic entrepreneur in the best sense. His diligence and striving for quality in his work sets him apart from many at his level. His vaccine research, development overview, and Immudicon’s business plan showcased these talents.”

Ennis has had internships at Georgetown University, Children’s National Medical Center, and the Sheikh Zayed Research Institute, confırming his love for science and desire for helping the community. In the fall of 2011 Ennis enrolled at Dartmouth College and began an internship with the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center on magnetic nanoparticle-induced hyperthermia for enzyme-prodrug therapy with Barjor Gimi. The research is focused on engineering bacteria to express a protein that converts inactive chemotherapeutic compounds to active forms. The bacteria are then locally implanted in tumors via nanotubes in order to create a novel local treatment platform. Gimi has been impressed with Ennis’ talents and enthusiasm, saying that Ennis “contributes to lab meetings with impressive new ideas, is enjoyable to work with, and a tremendous asset to the research group.”

Zilberman-RudenkoJevgenia Zilberman-Rudenko has been honored with the Sarber award for her achievements as a postbaccalaureate research fellow at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Her nominator, Richard Siegel, describes her has having “been fearless about trying new techniques, and suggesting and carrying out experiments on her own initiative.”

When she emigrated from Estonia, Zilberman did not anticipate that she would become a scientist. However, after tutoring students at the Math and Science center and working as a chemistry teacher’s assistant, her interest in science was sparked. Her fırst research experience was at San Diego Mesa Community College where, under the guidance of her professor, Joseph Toto, Zilberman worked on the development of a novel kinetics experiment to be incorporated into the junior college curriculum. Her growing interest in pharmacology led her to spend the summer before transferring to University of California, Berkeley, working as a medicinal chemistry intern at Novartis, where she focused on the design, synthesis, and purifıcation of a small-molecule antagonist of lymphocyte-specifıc protein kinase that has been implicated in diabetes II. At the University of California, Berkeley, where Zilberman earned her baccalaureate degree in Chemical Biology, her passion for research continued to grow. During her two years there, she took on an independent research project at the department of molecular biology and biochemistry alongside Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Eva Nogales, studying actions of microtubule binding protein CLASP1. Zilberman produced and purifıed over two dozen CLASP1 mutants to identify specifıc protein domains required for spindle organization and microtubule tracing, which were used in proteomic and functional assays checking for active spindle apparatuses in the Xenopus extracts.

Fascinated by using biochemistry and microbiology to understand human disease pathogenesis, Zilberman pursued a two-year postbaccalaureate research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health, where she worked with Richard Siegel, clinical director of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), studying a rare primary immunodefıciency disease associated with single- protein mutations affecting transcriptional balance and cell response dynamics. Under guidance of her primary supervisor and mentor, Eric Hanson, a Metzger Scholar in Translational Medicine, Zilberman has taken the lead in a study of the molecular basis of clinical phenotypes of patients with NF-κB Essential Modulator (NEMO) protein mutations, both by producing cell lines with clinically and biochemically relevant mutants, as well as studying primary patient samples. Hanson describes her as someone who has “embodied unwavering enthusiasm, intellectual curiosity, and the capacity for rigorous critical thinking about her work.” Zilberman defıned a distinct subset of mutations within NEMO Cterminus that affect its binding specifıcity to differently polyubiquitinated proteins important for balanced NF-κB signaling and implicated in NEMO syndrome inflammatory disease propagation as well as potential therapeutic targets.

Outside of the laboratory, Zilberman is an active member of her community, heavily invested in science education and service. Zilberman has been involved in numerous science outreach events, including serving as an elementary school science module designer and teacher in a project directed by the Lawrence Hall of Science, leading scientifıc activities for patient advocacy and SEED school visits as part of the NIAMS Offıce of Scientifıc Director team, and presenting at middle school science fairs and the 2012 USA Science & Engineering Symposium in Washington, D.C. She served as patient liaison at different hospitals and led recruitment and outreach efforts as a cofounder of a nonprofıt organization, Fruitful Minds, which seeks to battle juvenile obesity through education. Zilberman plans to continue this long tradition of service while at the OHSU, where she has already established herself as part of the local student-run nonprofıt SW clinic and education commission involved in organization of local science outreach events.

Scherago-Rubin Award

Brown-ElliottBarbara A. Brown-Elliott
, M.S., M.T.(ASCP)SM, University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler (UTHSCT) Mycobacteria/Nocardia Laboratory, has been honored with the 2013 Scherago-Rubin Award. The Scherago-Rubin Award was established by the late Sally Jo Rubin in memory of her grandfather, Professor Morris Scherago, to recognize an exceptional, bench-level microbiologist. Brown-Elliott’s nominator, Richard Wallace, University of Texas Health Science Center, says of her, “She embodies everything a clinical microbiologist should be, keeping the laboratory an integral part of patient care.”

Brown-Elliott is a registered medical technologist who graduated from Houston Baptist University with her B.S. in medical technology and later earned her M.S. from the University of Texas at Tyler. Prior to working at the UTHSCT, she was a microbiology supervisor in a clinical microbiology laboratory, a consultant for a clinical microbiology reference laboratory, and an instructor in several medical technology and medical laboratory programs. In 1988 she began her work in the Mycobacteria/Nocardia Laboratory at the UTHSCT with Wallace. “Due to her dedication and close attention to detail when working on the bench, this laboratory has become recognized nationwide as the premier reference laboratory for identifıcation and susceptibility testing of nontuberculous mycobacteria and Nocardia species,” says Gail Woods, Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System.Woods continues, “Her work has made a signifıcant contribution to what is currently known about these two groups of organisms and led to the development of guidelines for their identifıcation and susceptibility testing. Today she is recognized locally, nationally, and internationally as one of the few technologists who is an expert in these areas.” In addition to being a Research Assistant Professor and Supervisor of the UTHSCT Mycobacteria/Nocardia Laboratory, Brown-Elliott has also served as the study coordinator for several mycobacterial clinical investigational drug trials at the UTHSCT.

In addition to her duties at the UTHSCT, she is an active member of the community. According to Steven Holland, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, “Her capability and achievements are reflected in her service on numerous University and national committees, where she is known as someone who works hard, accomplishes much, and is a national resource.” She is amember of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists, ASM, and the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) Subcommittee on Antimycobacterial Susceptibility Testing. Woods, who was the Chair of the CLSI Subcommittee on Antimycobacterial Susceptibility Testing, considers Brown-Elliott an essential part of the subcommittee. Woods explains, “Because of her benchwork experience with these organisms, Ms. Brown-Elliott was a major contributor to sections related to nontuberculous mycobacteria and Nocardia. I personally relied on her expertise to develop these sections, and I can honestly say that without her input, the document would not be as informative as I believe it is.” In addition to serving on committees, Brown-Elliott is also the author of more than 160 scientifıc articles and chapters and has presented more than 100 abstracts/posters at international meetings. She has been an invited speaker at local, national, and international meetings, including the ASM General Meeting. She is also a 2009 recipient of the Becton Dickinson Gardner Middlebrook Award for signifıcant contributions in the fıeld of mycobacteriology.

Not only is Brown-Elliott an exceptional microbiologist, she is also a great person to work with. According to Holland, “She is never too busy to answer questions and give advice to anyone in need.” He concludes, “She is indefatigable in the performance of superb mycobacteriology and nocardiology and an irrepressible teacher of technicians, collaborators, and students alike.”

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