María Soledad Ramírez, Ph.D., Fellow, National Scientific and Technical Research Council, Buenos Aires, Argentina, has been awarded a 2012 ICAAC Young Investigator Award. Ramírez is honored for her outstanding work in the area of integron participation in gene capture and dissemination. “Ramírez has been involved with almost every aspect of resistance work in microbiology,” says Gabriel Gutkind, Universidad of Buenos Aires. “Among her many skills, she possesses extensive experience in the study of the mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance, both in the biochemical characterization and the genetic analysis of the structures associated with the encoding genes.”
Ramírez graduated from the University of Buenos Aires, Faculty of Pharmacy & Biochemistry, Argentina, with a major in Biochemistry. After graduating, she gained clinical research training at the Fundación Favaloro, one of the leading research institutions for research in cardiovascular diseases and organ transplants. Upon completion of her training, Ramírez was awarded a fellowship in Daniela Centrón’s laboratory where she earned her Ph.D. with the thesis for the characterization of class 2 integrons in clinical and environmental isolates. This work was presented at national and international meetings, and resulted in five publications in such journals as Antimicrobial Agents & Chemotherapy. In 2007, Ramírez was awarded the IUMS-UNESCO-SGM Fellowship to spend three months in the laboratory of nominator Marcelo Tolmasky at California State University, Fullerton, where she not only generated results for five publications but also established long-term collaborative projects.
After receiving her Ph.D., Ramírez successfully applied for a very competitive postdoctoral fellowship that permitted her to continue her work on antibiotic resistance. During her postdoctoral years she published five papers in prestigious journals. Her success led her to earn one of the few openings to become one of the youngest members of the Research Career of CONICET in Argentina, where she flourished as a scientist and a teacher. She started her own lines of research and maintained an extremely busy professional service record. “During this time, Ramírez established a research collaboration with my laboratory, published six papers, started to mentor a Ph.D. graduate student, and became a foreign mentor for an NIH-funded international training program,” describes Tolmasky. “In addition, she continued to teach a variety of courses, was a member of the governing body of the Argentine Association of Microbiology, organized the tri-annual meeting of the same association and maintained their website, and organized special courses and workshops for young scientists, including workshops for improving English scientific writing.”
Ramírez has published 22 papers and presented 63 works at national and international meetings. She has been awarded several honors including an ICAAC Infectious Diseases Fellows Grant, a Young Scientist Travel Grant FEMS-ESCMID, a Fulbright Research Fellowship, and the IANAS Short Visits Fellowship.
Ramírez’s work has great implications for public health. “Resistance to antibiotics can have devastating clinical results. Around the world, Acinetobacter infections are becoming increasingly severe due to resistance to multiple antibiotics. Her works have made profound contributions to these problems,” explains Robert Bonomo, Louis Stokes VA Medical Center. Tolmasky summarized, “It is not hard to imagine that Ramírez will soon be a leader in the field of microbiology in Argentina, and will continue contributing important findings in the area of dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes.”
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