Carey-Ann Burnham, Ph.D., D(ABMM), F(CCM), Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes Jewish Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri, has been honored with the 2013 Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics Young Investigator Award. This award is given to a young clinical scientist who has done outstanding laboratory research in clinical microbiology or antimicrobial agents. According to her nominator, Michael Dunne, bioMerieux, Burnham “is an outstanding individual with great promise as a leader in the field of diagnostic clinical microbiology.”
Burnham completed her Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Science and PhD in Medical Sciences at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. Her doctoral studies were conducted under the direction of Dr. Greg Tyrrell and focused on the pathogenesis of Group B streptococcus. Burnham then completed the CPEP Medical and Public Health Microbiology Fellowship under the supervision of Michael Dunne at the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis.
Upon completion of her Fellowship training, Burnham became the director of microbiology at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and later the director of microbiology at Barnes Jewish Hospital, with faculty appointments at Washington University School of Medicine. “I have been very fortunate to work in an environment that is very supportive of research pursuits while attending to my clinical responsibilities. I have great collaborators. All of this has been key to getting my research up and running,” says Burnham. Burnham is the Program Director for the CPEP Medical and Public Health Microbiology Fellowship at Washington University and is the co-author of the “Medical Microbiology Question of the Day.” She also works closely with trainees in Clinical Pathology and Infectious Diseases.
To date, Burnham has approximately 30 peer reviewed publications. Burnham’s research focuses on transmission and epidemiology of Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile, and development of new diagnostic methods for clinical microbiology, including sequence based diagnostics and MALDI-TOF MS. Burnham is actively involved in optimization of MALDI-TOF MS methods for routine identification of microorganisms in the laboratory, as well as for direct detection of organisms in some types of clinical specimens, such as urine. Robert Rennie, University of Alberta, says Burnham “has also made important strides in molecular diagnostics for identification of fungal pathogens in clinical samples. New insights and database improvements in this area are important for early recognition in compromised hosts and Burnham is in the forefront here.” In addition, she is involved in multi-disciplinary projects, including one evaluating the role of the asymptomatic host in nosocomial C. difficile transmission.
Burnham belongs to several societies including ASM where she is currently serving on the editorial board for The Journal of Clinical Microbiology. She has been honored with numerous awards including a Paul E. Strandjord Young Investigator Award from the Academy of Clinical and Laboratory Physicians and Scientists in 2010, and the 2005 Laboratory Medicine and Pathology Research Day MacGregor Award from the University of Alberta.