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Four Named Fellows of Microbiology Academy

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September 20, 2005

Four Northwestern University faculty members have been elected fellows of the prestigious American Academy of Microbiology.

They are Laimonis A. Laimins, professor of microbiology-immunology; E. Terry Papoutsakis, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Chemical Engineering and professor of biomedical engineering; Steven M. Wolinsky, M.D., Samuel J. Sackett Professor of Medicine and division chief of infectious diseases; and Richard B. Thomson Jr., professor of pathology.

The American Academy of Microbiology is the honorific leadership group within the American Society of Microbiology. The fellows are chosen through a highly selective peer-reviewed process based on their records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology.

Laimins's research is concerned with cancer biology, molecular biology and genetics. In particular he studies the molecular biology of human papillomaviruses and their association with cervical cancer. The goal is to understand why infection by specific HPV types contributes to the development of malignancy.

Papoutsakis has also received the Amgen Biochemical Engineering Award, one of the highest awards in biochemical engineering, in recognition of research excellence and leadership in the field. The award was presented at the biennial Biochemical Engineering Conference.

Papoutsakis’s research focuses on three areas: bioengineering of stem cells and hematopoiesis, the process by which mature blood cells are generated from stem cells in the bone marrow; metabolic engineering, including the molecular biology of anaerobic bacteria and the construction of recombinant cells with altered cellular programs and pathways; and the molecular biology of T-cell differentiation in the context of cellular immunotherapy.

Wolinsky’s research has provided an evolutionary perspective for RNA virus population dynamics in vivo. This work has significant implications for understanding the basic biology of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection relevant to the rational clinical management of HIV disease.

Thomson, who also is director of the microbiology laboratories at Evanston Hospital, investigates molecular methods for diagnosis and antimicrobial testing and methods for recognition of hospital infections. A member of several editorial boards, he is editor of Microbiology Frontline, Excerpta Medica, Inc. and serves on the board of the American College of Microbiology.

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