2003 General Meeting Awardees

The Committee on Awards is pleased to present part three of the three-part series on the 2003 General Meeting Awardees.

Abbott-ASM Lifetime Achievement Award

The Abbott-ASM Lifetime Achievement Award laureate is Stanley Falkow, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif. Falkow is honored for a distinguished career of remarkable research that merged medical microbiology and molecular biology, effectively shaping the modern field of bacterial pathogenesis.

Among just the earlier contributions by Falkow are the 1966 demonstration that R factors encoding transmissible drug resistance were composed of extrachromosomal DNA, the development of the simple technique of visualizing plasmids by agarose gel electrophoresis that sped molecular genetic research worldwide, and the characterization of plasmid RSF1010 that provided the critical component in Cohen and Boyer's recombinant DNA technology. In yet another classic series of papers, Falkow and colleagues described the critical structural and genetic features of different transposons encoding drug resistance, particularly the Tn1(3) family.

As the first to apply molecular techniques to clinical microbiology, Falkow advanced understanding of the structure and properties of transposons and plasmids, including those encoding drug resistance and virulence determinants. He pioneered the use of DNA probes in clinical diagnosis and evolutionary analysis of microbial pathogens. His lab was the first to identify a bacterial invasin and a two-component regulatory system in a pathogenic bacterium. Coined "Molecular Koch's Postulates," Falkow's approach of identifying a gene responsible for disease in only disease strains, disrupting that gene in the disease strain to cause avirulence, introducing the gene into an avirulent strain to cause virulence, and showing that the gene was expressed during infection established the role of genes and their products in pathogenesis-and began to replace traditional biochemical methods used at the time. Falkow, writes his nominator, American Academy of Microbiology Fellow Vincent A. Fischetti, "nearly single-handedly applied genetic techniques to key pathogenic bacteria to identify those genes and their respective molecules responsible for disease."

Falkow's work has covered nearly all major classes of bacterial pathogens and utilized biochemical, genetic, molecular biological, cell biological, epidemiological, genomic, and bioinformatic approaches to understand the mechanisms involved in virulence. He continues to develop new tools as well, including the recent mutational improvement of green fluorescent protein for use in studies of pathogenesis.

Also recognized as a remarkable teacher, mentor, and colleague, Falkow is well known for entertaining and inspiring lectures and seminars that are relevant to both basic scientists and clinicians. His world-class laboratory has trained some of today's premier researchers in bacterial pathogenesis. Extensive editorial and professional service, including a term as ASM president, further demonstrate Falkow's lifelong commitment to microbiology.

Falkow is a graduate of the University of Maine, Orono, who earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at Brown University, Providence, R.I. Before moving to Stanford to chair the Department of Medical Microbiology in 1981, Falkow was a faculty member at the University of Washington, Seattle, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington D.C.

Falkow is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, he is a past laureate of the Robert Koch Award, the Bristol-Meyers Squibb Award for Achievement in Infectious Disease Research, the Paul Ehrlich-Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize, the Maxwell Finland Award of the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases, and the BD Award for Research in Clinical Microbiology. Stanley Falkow will present the Abbott-ASM Award Lecture, "The Second Lifetime: Genomes, Microarrays, and Cancer," at the ASM General Meeting.

bioMérieux Sonnenwirth Award for Leadership in Clinical Microbiology

The bioMérieux Sonnenwirth Award for Leadership in Clinical Microbiology, proudly sponsored by bioMérieux, Inc., since 1986, honors J. Michael Miller, a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM) and Diplomate of the American Board of Medical Microbiology (ABMM). At the General Meeting, Miller will present the bioMérieux Sonnenwirth Award/ASM Division C Lecture, "The Imperatives of our Profession."

Miller earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, La., and received his basic medical laboratory training in the U.S. Army at Fort Sam Houston, Tex. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio in 1976 and first came to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as a postdoctoral resident in public health and medical laboratory microbiology.

He is currently Acting Chief, Hospital Environment Laboratory Branch, Hospital Infections Program, and Chief, Laboratory Response Branch, Bioterrorism Preparedness Program. Miller plays a key role in national efforts related to bioterrorism, developing new detection methods for bioterrorism agents and emerging pathogens and serving on a variety of important national committees setting bioterrorism research agendas, training and preparedness standards, and response policies.

Further exemplary efforts illustrate Miller's leadership in clinical microbiology. He is the creator and champion of ClinMicroNet, the Internet listserv that has become a crucial educational tool for microbiologists worldwide. More than 300 clinical microbiologists from different countries use ClinMicroNet to communicate important information and get questions related to everything from laboratory management to the diagnosis of exotic diseases answered in real time. Miller is the author of A Guide to Specimen Management in Clinical Microbiology, a practical guide to the transportation of specimens now necessitated by the economics of managed care, and a frequent contributor to the seminal reference works The Manual of Clinical Microbiology and Topley and Wilson's Microbiology and Microbial Infections. Also recognized as an outstanding teacher, Miller has directed the postdoctoral training program at CDC and is highly active as an invited speaker at symposia and workshops.

Miller has served as representative, Divisional Group I; member, PSAB Subcommittee on Laboratory Regulation, BD Award for Research in Clinical Microbiology Selection Committee, bioMerieux Sonnenwirth Award Selection Committee, and the American Academy of Microbiology's Bioterrorism Threats to our Future Colloquium Steering Committee; and chair, ASM Division C (1997-98). He was nominated for the award by Peter Gilligan, AAM Fellow, ABMM Diplomate, and 2001 laureate of the bioMerieux Sonnenwirth Award.

Eli Lilly and Company Research Award

The Eli Lilly and Company Research Award will be presented to Angelika Amon, Assistant Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Center for Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge. ASM's oldest award, proudly supported by Eli Lilly and Company since 1936, the prize recognizes scientists on the threshold of careers in microbiology for fundamental research of unusual originality and merit.

Amon is honored for remarkable research on a central problem in biology-regulation of the cell cycle. Her work has already changed the field through advancing deep mechanistic understanding and the discovery of novel pathways. Chief among her contributions is the elucidation of how cells exit from mitosis. In a series of elegant experiments, her lab showed the complex roles of the phosphatase Cdc14p in this crucial function. Cdc14p increases the levels of Sic1p, the inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinases. It dephosphorylates and so stabilizes it, and dephosphorylates and activates a transcription factor important for CDC14 expression. She further demonstrated that dephosphorylation of another Cdc14p substrate induces degradation of mitotic cyclins. These activities converge to inactivate mitotic cyclins, a requirement for precise exit from mitosis.

In sorting out the regulation of Cdc14p itself, Amon showed that from G1 through metaphase, Cdc14p was held in inactive complex with its inhibitor, Cfilp, and sequestered in the nucleolus. At anaphase, Cdc14p is released into the nucleus and cytoplasm-a release mediated by Tem1p, a small GTPase. Tem1p is bound to the spindle pole body that enters the daughter cytoplasm during mitosis, and its interacting exchange factor, Lte1p, is itself sequestered in the bud as soon as it is synthesized. This geometry guarantees that Tem1p only comes into contact with its exchange factor when mitosis has progressed so that the spindle projects into the daughter cell. This mechanism assures that the end of mitosis-and the beginning of cytokinesis-is coupled with successful chromosome partitioning.

Amon's contributions are continuing at a rapid pace as she examines important controls in mitotic exit and crucial events in meiosis. She earned her B.A. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Vienna, Austria, and was a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellow at the MIT-affiliated Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. She is a past laureate of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and serves on the editorial boards of Genes & Development, Developmental Cell, and Journal of Cell Biology. She was nominated for the Eli Lilly Award by two Fellows of the American Academy of Microbiology, Frank Solomon and 1993 Nobel laureate Phillip Sharp.

Procter & Gamble Award in Applied and Environmental Microbiology

Two Procter & Gamble Awards will be presented in 2003. Proudly supported by Procter & Gamble Company since 1977 and granted for extraordinary achievement in applied and environmental microbiology, the awards honor the groundbreaking research of two distinguished scientists.

Kenneth H. Nealson, Wrigley Professor of Geobiology, University of Southern California (USC), is recognized for contributions to the microbiology of marine, freshwater, terrestrial, and other environments. He was the first to identify autoinduction in Vibrio fischeri, inspiring subsequent research and leading to current understanding that bacterial cells communicate with each other via chemical signals in the phenomenon now called quorum sensing. Nealson's investigations have been central to the illustration of the biogeochemical importance of microbial manganese oxidation; the characterization of bacterial genes and gene products involved in the reduction of iron, manganese, toxic metals, and radionuclides; and the use of bacterial genomics to understand physiological diversity.

His recent work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) led to the development of Raman spectroscopic instrumentation that measures and spatially resolves minute quantities of biomarkers like tryptophan and electron molecules associated with cells. This instrumentation can now be operated in the field and will eventually be used in space, potentially to recognize the presence of life and relate its spatial location.

Nealson graduated from the University of Chicago, Ill., earning his Ph.D. there in 1969. Widely recognized as an inspiring lecturer, teacher, and mentor, he was Distinguished Professor at the Center for Great Lakes Studies of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, from 1985-1997 and Senior Scientist at JPL/Caltech before joining the faculty at USC.

A Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM) and past recipient of the Distinguished Leader in Life Sciences Award of the National Academy of Sciences, Nealson recently authored, with AAM Fellow William Ghiorse, the highly successful AAM report "Geobiology: Exploring the Interface between the Geosphere and the Biosphere." At the General Meeting, he will deliver a Procter & Gamble Award in Applied and Environmental Microbiology Lecture: "Nutritional Extremophily as a Way of Life: Geobiology in Action." Nealson was nominated by AAM Fellow John Lennox.

Eugene Rosenberg, Professor of Microbiology, Tel Aviv University, Israel, is honored for a lifetime of fundamental discovery, innovation, and application in applied and environmental microbiology that includes critically important work on oil bioremediation and coral reef bleaching. He will present "Bacterial Bleaching of Corals: Three Kingdoms in One Polyp" as a Procter & Gamble Award in Applied and Environmental Microbiology Lecture.

In the early 1970s, Rosenberg discovered several of the important principles on which subsequent work in bioremediation is based. He demonstrated the requirement for supplementation with utilizable N and P compounds, illustrated the role of cell surface hydrophobicity in adhesion of bacteria to hydrocarbons for growth on water-soluble substrates, and discovered the bioemulsifier emulsan. Using these principles, Rosenberg, with David Gutnick, cleaned the cargo compartment of an oil tanker during its ballast voyage, thereby conducting the first controlled experiment in bioremediation.

A second area of major contribution is Rosenberg's work on coral bleaching, a problem affecting reefs around the world. Rosenberg showed that the bleaching of corals in the Mediterranean and Red Seas and the Indian Ocean results from bacterial infection. Through subsequent research on Vibrio shiloi, the agent of disease affecting the coral Oculina patagonica, Rosenberg demonstrated that virulence factors of V. shiloi (the adhesin, toxin, and superoxide dismutase) are only produced at higher-than-normal seawater temperatures-findings that present possibilities for technologies to combat the disease and conserve coral reefs. Other significant work by Rosenberg includes the discovery of antibiotic TA produced by Myxococcus xanthus and the development and patenting of methods that use microbial thermal and alkali-stable xylanases to bleach wood pulp and microbial arabinofuranosidases to delignify wood, minimizing pollution from paper production.

Rosenberg earned his B.Sc. at the University of California, Los Angeles, and his Ph.D. in biochemistry at Columbia University, New York, N.Y. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM), a past NIH Fogarty International Scholar, and a 2001 laureate of the Sakov Prize of the Israel Society of Microbiology. He was nominated for the Procter & Gamble Award by AAM Fellow Ronald Weiner.

USFCC/J. Roger Porter Award

Gary J. Olsen, Professor, Department of Microbiology and Center for Biophysics and Computational Biology, University of Illinois, Urbana, will receive the United States Federation for Culture Collections and J. Roger Porter Award. Olsen has made remarkable contributions to microbial taxonomy, the understanding of diversity, and the collection, curation, and analysis of ribosomal RNA gene sequences. He will deliver the J. Roger Porter Award Lecture, "Ribosomal RNA, Gene Transfer and the Meaning of a Tree of Life."

As an early leader in ribosomal RNA sequence analysis, Olsen has played key roles in shaping current understanding and future research directions in bacteriology and microbial ecology. He contributed significantly to the inference of phylogenies from rRNA sequence data, and was a principal in establishing norms for the field. Showing clear vision for the future, he spearheaded the conceptual development and implementation of the Ribosomal Database Project (RDP), the central organizing framework for subsequent studies using rRNA sequences. Since 1992, the RDP (http://rdp.cme.msu.edu) has assumed a crucial role within the scientific and educational communities and has grown to serve more than 3,500 unique users per month, including scientists from 65 countries. Olsen continues to influence the project, advising on future directions and proposed changes. Another tool developed by Olsen and offered through the RDP is FastDNAml, a protocol for maximum likelihood analysis of sequences. Olsen adapted and streamlined the more computationally intensive DNAml program, speeding calculations and utility for real-life problems in microbial diversity. FastDNAml has become a method of choice for phylogenetic sequence analysis.

Olsen is an active teacher and frequent, invited participant in national and international workshops, meetings, and courses, including the recent National Science Foundation's Evolutionary Synthesis Center Workshop and the 2002 USC Wrigley Institute- and Agouron Institute-sponsored course "Geobiology: an Intensive Training Course in a Rapidly Evolving Field." He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM) who has served as a member of the National Research Council Space Studies Board and is a member of the Advisory Board of the National Biological Computing Resource, San Diego Supercomputing Center. Olsen is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, who earned his Ph.D. at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. He was nominated for the award by AAM Fellow Thomas M. Schmidt.

Promega Biotechnology Research Award

The Promega Biotechnology Research Award honoring contributions to biotechnology through microbiological research will be presented to Patrick O. Brown, M.D., Ph.D., Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University School of Medicine, California. Brown is honored for work at the forefront of the development and application of simple, accessible methods for the functional analysis of genes and genomes. He will deliver the Promega Biotechnology Research Award lecture, "Exploring Biology with DNA Microarrays," at the General Meeting.

His remarkable innovations include methods for genetic linkage mapping, or mismatch scanning; the analysis of gene function on a genome-wide scale (genetic footprinting); and for the construction and use of cDNA and microarrays to monitor DNA-protein interactions, gene amplifications and deletions, and expression changes for every gene in the genome. Nicholas R. Cozzarelli, nominator for the Promega Award, wrote of Brown, "He is the person most responsible for the emergence of DNA microarray technology as the preeminent tool for massive parallel analysis of gene expression."

The application of these technologies by Brown and colleagues has revolutionized the study of gene expression and function from microbes to humans, assigning functions to thousands of genes in biological processes that range from development in yeast to the response of human cells in culture to environmental stress. Further innovation has brought the development of novel informatics tools for the analysis and display of the massive amounts of data that derive from microarray experiments. In still another contribution to the science and the community, Brown has been a leader in the movement to make all underlying data readily available once a paper is published.

The most immediate, important consequence of the Brown microarray system has been its application to tumor types and subtypes based on patterns of gene expression. Successes in this area include the discovery of subtypes of diffuse, large-cell lymphoma that otherwise have not been clinically distinguishable, yet have proven to be clinically significant in terms of mortality. Similar studies have been published on subtypes of breast, lung, and liver cancer, and promise dramatic improvements in diagnosis, choice of therapy, and statements of prognosis.

Brown earned his B.A. in chemistry, Ph.D. in biochemistry, and M.D. from the University of Chicago. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a past laureate of the National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology and the Millennium Pharmaceuticals Award for Genomics Research in Clinical Immunology.