Barbara A. Brown-Elliott, MS, MT(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 identification and susceptibility testing of nontuberculous mycobacteria and Nocardia species,” says Gail Woods, Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System. Woods continues, “Her work has made a significant contribution to what is currently known about these two groups of organisms and led to the development of guidelines for their identification 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, NIH, “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 a member of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists, the American Society for Microbiology, 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 bench-work 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.” Not only has Brown-Elliott served on committees, she is also the author of more than 160 scientific 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 American Society for Microbiology. She is also a 2009 recipient of the Becton Dickinson Gardner Middlebrook Award for significant contributions in the field 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.”