The 2013 USFCC/J. Roger Porter Award has been presented to Lenie Dijkshoorn, Ph.D., Leiden University Medical Center, Netherlands. The award, given in memory of J. Rodger Porter, honors extraordinary efforts by a scientist who has demonstrated the importance of microbial biodiversity through sustained curatorial or stewardship activities for a major resource used by the scientific community. Joan Bennett says “Dijkshoorn’s willingness to follow through on projects large and small, her high professional standards and her rigor as a taxonomist, make her an ideal candidate for the USFCC/J. Roger Porter Award.”
Dijkshoorn started her career as a technical microbiologist at the Leiden University Hospital and then moved to the Higher Laboratory Education Institute (currently University of Applied Sciences) in Rotterdam as a microbiology teacher. For several decades, she combined this position with studying biology at the University of Utrecht, followed by Ph. D. study at the Rotterdam University Hospital, and later research positions. In the 1990s she moved to the Leiden University Medical Center to set up a highly focused facility for typing nosocomial pathogens with emphasis on Acinetobacter. The first studies, described in Dijkshoorn’s dissertation, focused on the development of typing methods to study organism transmission. Dijkshoorn has had major achievements in the epidemiology and taxonomy of Acinetobacter and the development and validation of reliable methods for strain and species identification. She initiated a culture collection that currently comprises more than 8,000 Acinetobacter cultures and an AFLP genomic fingerprint database covering the known diversity within the genus. This collection is a highly valued resource for research. Jaap van Dissel, Leiden University Medical Center, says “working together with an international network of dedicated colleagues, Dijkshoorn’s work was instrumental in describing new species within the genus, development of molecular methods for species identification (ARDRA, AFLP and rpoB sequence analysis) and the description of various clones within Acinetobacter baumannii. Lenie contributed greatly to the knowledge of this bacterial pathogen in the field of healthcare-associated infections.”
Dijkshoorn has recruited and trained numerous students in Applied Science, Biology, and Medicine and supervised 6 Ph. D. candidates. She played an active role as member and chair of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID) Study Group of Epidemiological Markers (ESGEM). She was also on the board of the Netherlands Society for Microbiology as Educational Officer and set up a section on education within this society. She served as president of the Netherlands Working Party of Epidemiological Typing and sat on the organizing committees of multiple international meetings, including meetings on Acinetobacter and the International Meetings of Microbial Epidemiological Markers (IMMEM), one of which was co-organized with ASM.
As editor of Research Microbiology she initiated a special issue on Microbial Research Commons. This work, with contributions from numerous researchers, emphasizes the importance of public culture collections and biological resource centers in the exchange of materials and data in basic and applied microbiology. Last year, on the occasion of the Centennial of the Netherlands Society for Microbiology, she initiated the issue of a stamps series by the Dutch post and a public lecture program at the Leiden University on microbiology in the Netherlands.
Dijkshoorn recently retired officially from her position as associate professor but is still active in several collaborative projects concerning the pathogenicity and diversity of acinetobacters.