John C. Sherris, Professor Emeritus, Department of Microbiology, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, is the 2004 laureate of the Hardy Diagnostics ABMM/ABMLI Professional Recognition Award. Supported by Aventis Pharmaceuticals, the award recognizes a Diplomate of the American Board of Medical Microbiology (ABMM) or the American Board of Medical Laboratory Immunology (ABMLI) for outstanding contributions to the professional recognition of clinical microbiologists and/or immunologists.
Throughout his career, Sherris has been a tireless advocate for the profession of clinical microbiology. Early on, he became interested in antibiotic resistance and was a driving force behind the development of standardized susceptibility testing, culminating in the standardized disk diffusion test, now known as the Kirby-Bauer or Bauer-Kirby test. His achievements are recognized internationally, through his years of service with the World Health Organization's Expert Advisory Panel on Biological Standardization and the International Collaborative Study on Antibiotic Sensitivity Testing. He also holds an honorary medical degree from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.
A hallmark of Sherris's contributions to the profession is his leadership as an educator. After he was recruited by the University of Washington Hospital as the first director of its clinical microbiology laboratories, Sherris and colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quickly established the first postdoctoral training programs in medical and public health laboratory microbiology in this country. These programs, recognized by the American College of Microbiology Committee on Postgraduate Educational Programs, prepare clinical microbiologists and immunologists for work in laboratories, research, and industry. He has also been deeply involved in medical school teaching and curriculum development. One of his most enduring achievements is the highly regarded textbook Sherris Medical Microbiology, now in its fourth edition under the editorship of two of the original authors.
Sherris's legacy with ASM is a profound one. He is a past president of the Society and served as both vice chair of the Board of Governors of the Academy of American Microbiology and ABMM chair. He has been a major force in ASM's publications programs, as founding editor and editor in chief of the Cumitech series of clinical microbiology techniques, editorial board member for the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, and section editor of the popular Manual of Clinical Microbiology.
Sherris earned his medical degree and doctoral degree in pathology from the University of London, United Kingdom. After seven years of training and working primarily in clinical microbiology, he joined the Department of Bacteriology at the University of Manchester in England. He was appointed to the University of Washington faculty in 1959. A Fellow of England's Royal College of Pathologists, he is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and has been an ABMM Diplomate since 1966.
ASM honored Sherris for his achievements as a clinical microbiologist when he became the first recipient, in 1978, of the BD Award for Research in Clinical Microbiology. The bioMerieux Sonnenwirth Award for Leadership in Clinical Microbiology followed in 1988. He was nominated for the ABMM/ABMLI Professional Recognition Award by Academy Fellow and ABMM Diplomate Marie B. Coyle.