American Academy of Microbiology
Bonnie L. Bassler, Ph.D.
Chair, Board of Governors
The Academy’s mission is to “recognize scientists for outstanding contributions to microbiology and provide microbiological expertise in the service of science and the public.” AAM Fellows are elected to the AAM on the basis of scientific excellence and stellar achievements, and in 2012, 80 new Fellows were elected, including 21 international scientists (26%), and 11 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences or Institute of Medicine.
The BOG convened in January 2012 at ASM headquarters in Washington D.C. for its annual board meeting and to review nominations to the AAM.
In accordance with the recommendations of a 2011 task force on election to fellowship, Division leaders were asked to solicit nominations from their divisions. Furthermore, an ad hoc nominating committee made up of seven recently elected Fellows was asked to suggest potential nominees from cross-cutting and emerging areas of microbiology. The committee suggested 43 potential nominees, of whom 19 were nominated and 17 elected.
The BOG began a strategic planning process at its 2012 meeting. In addition to a strategic planning working group headed by Bonnie Bassler and Susan Gottesman, four task forces were put in place to explore how the American Academy of Microbiology could contribute to encouraging the use of microbiology to solve major societal challenges in the areas of health, energy, environment, and food.
The Academy was involved in some new activities in 2011. First, the Academy proposed a plenary session topic as part of the new ASM General Meeting format. The topic “How Microbes Can Help Feed the World” convened five scientists whose work focuses on how microbes can help plants adapt to a variety of stresses including heat, drought, or limited nutrients and can help protect harvested crops from spoilage. An article summarizing the session was published in Microbe magazine and a colloquium exploring the topic more fully will be held in 2012. Second, the Academy worked with the Public and Scientific Affairs Board to draft a response to a White House request for comments on the administration’s proposed “Bioeconomy Blueprint.” ASM’s comments detail the many ways that microbiology can contribute to a vibrant economy and highlight a number of relevant AAM colloquium reports that provide additional insight.
The Academy convenes colloquia to strategically address critical issues in microbiology and to develop reports that are scientifically analytical, practical, and objective. Since 1992, the Academy has sought and received over $2.25 million in grants and contributions for the colloquia program—from federal agencies, foundations, and the corporate sector. Colloquia reports have been downloaded in the aggregate over 150,000 times in the last 5 years.
In 2010, the Academy began a new program – the FAQ mini-colloquium series. Traditional Academy reports are based on multi-day colloquia that examine complex or emerging topics in microbiology. They are usually targeted at academic or science policy audiences. The FAQ series is based on single-day “mini-colloquium” meetings of approximately 20 experts to develop clear, science-based answers to frequently asked questions about a newsworthy topic in microbiology. The audience for FAQ reports is the general public. In keeping with the aim of responding to topics in the news, FAQ series final reports are published as quickly as possible, usually in 2-3 months, after the mini-colloquium is held. Alternative formats for FAQ reports are under active development. Information from the FAQ on Adult Vaccination has been developed into a tri-fold brochure suitable for printing by doctors’ offices for distribution to patients. A poster is being developed based on the E. coli FAQ for distribution at the U.S. Science and Engineering Festival in April. The Academy has also arranged for participants in the E. coli FAQ to answer questions about the topic at a “Science Café” in a local pub.
In 2011, the Academy welcomed its first “Colloquium Fellow”. Michael Ingerson-Mahar joined the Academy in June 2011 for an intensive, one-year immersion in the field of science policy and outreach. Michael has been involved in entire colloquium process, including the generation of topic ideas, development of ideas and fund-raising, participant recruitment and logistics, colloquium discussion management, and report writing and review. He has also spearheaded the development of new outlets for colloquium and FAQ reports. Applications are currently being accepted for the 2012 Colloquium Fellowship. In September 2012, he will leave AAM to begin a prestigious AAAS Science and Technology Fellowship.
Five colloquium reports were released in 2011/early 2012:
Three of these reports were based on colloquia held in 2011:
• Educating the Microbiologist of the Future: the Role of Summer Courses (August 2011) details the value of summer courses in microbiology. The report also offers insight into how to best make use of limited funds in the development of future summer courses. The report is available at: http://bit.ly/GK3biB.
• Incorporating Microbial Processes into Climate Change Models (January 2012) describes the profound effect that microbial processes exert on the biogeochemical cycles that influence the Earth’s climate. The report offers recommendations on how the disparate fields of climate science and microbiology can be integrated to the advantage of both fields. The report is available at: http://bit.ly/xRUDiK.
• Making New Technology Count: Designing Point-of-Care Diagnostics for Resource Limited Settings (anticipated March 2012) was held in September 2011. The report will summarize participants’ discussions identifying medical conditions that would benefit most from point-of-care diagnostics, the areas of science and technology where advances would be most useful in the design of point-of-care tests, the characteristics that should be considered in designing a successful point-of-care test, and the key obstacles to successful design and deployment of tests.
Two reports were published in 2011 based on colloquia held in 2010:
• Microbial Evolution (August 2011) examines how the core principles of evolutionDarwin described in On the Origin of Species pertain to the microbial world. The report identifies characteristics of microbes that complicate understanding of microbial evolution and highlights key areas of research needed to overcome these challenges. The report is available at: http://bit.ly/GRahFR.
• The Rare Biosphere (August 2011) highlights microbial species that while rare individually; collectively make up as much as 75% of the biomass of some microbial communities. The report identifies new techniques and technologies that allow for the study of the rare biosphere and makes recommendations of how to undertake the herculean task. The report is available at: http://bit.ly/GR2yDA.
Three traditional colloquia are in the planning stages for 2012:
- The Microbiology of Built Water Distribution Systems, chaired by Norman Pace (April 11-13th, 2012, Boulder CO). The colloquium has been sponsored by the Sloan Foundation.
- Designing Drugs that Last, chaired by Margaret Riley (July 22-24th, 2012, Philadelphia PA). An application for partial funding for the colloquium has been submitted to the NIH.
- How Microbes Can Help Feed the World, chaired by Ian Sanders (in planning).
Three FAQ series mini-colloquium reports were released in 2011/early 2012:
• Microbes and Oil Spills (February 2011), the first report of the new FAQ series, focuses on the naturally occurring microbes in the Earth’s oceans that have the capacity to biodegrade components of crude oil. The report illustrates the diversity of microorganisms and their role in bioremediation. The report is available at: http://bit.ly/zrHO6I.
• E. coli: the Good, the Bad, and the Deadly (November 2011) introduces the role of E. coli in health and science. The report covers E. coli pathogenesis, but also delves into roles of the bacterium as a scientific tool and as a natural and beneficial member of the microbial community living in the human gut. The report is available at: http://bit.ly/xdJoIq.
•Vaccines for Adults: a Grown-Up Thing to Do (February 2012) describes how vaccines work, why they are so safe, and the vaccination options available for adults. The report stresses the importance of vaccines, not only to the health of the individual, but to the health of their loved ones and the community. The report is available at: http://bit.ly/xtnvMq.
The Academy plans to convene three FAQ series colloquia in 2012:
- The Microbiology of Brewing: Beer, chaired by Chris White (in planning).
- Influenza, chaired by Jeffrey Taubenberger (in planning).
- The Human Microbiome
Academy-administered ASM awards recognize outstanding microbiologists and bring their accomplishments to the attention of the scientific community and the public-at-large. The Academy administered the nomination and selection process for 25 awards in 2011 (for a total of 31 laureates). The awards presented at the 2011 General Meeting marked the first year that the Academy took over administration of the Moselio Schaechter Distinguished Service Award, which honors leadership and commitment towards the furthering microbiology in the developing world. This award was created by the International Board in 2009 in time for the 2010 General Meeting, and was administered by the International Department for its first year.
Contracts were renewed this year with Siemens (for the Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics Young Investigator Award) and Abbott (for the Abbott Laboratories Award in Clinical and Diagnostic Immunology). The Abbott Laboratories laureate for 2012 is Bruce S. Rabin, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The 2012 Siemens Award laureate is Aaron R. Jex, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
The awards deadline was shifted to July 1 in 2011 (for awards presented at the 2012 GM) to allow for award lectures to be discussed at the GMPC meeting and placed in the most appropriate sessions based on the laureate’s science. This should result in more heavily attended sessions for the laureates. This year there were 63 new nominations, which, combined with nominations that were still eligible from past years, resulted in 181 nominations for the selection committees to review—above the average of the past five years, which was 171.
At its 2011 meeting, the Committee on Awards reviewed the prize amounts and travel funds for award laureates and decided to request $500 more for cash prize and travel amounts for the awards funded by ASM, allowing ASM to lead corporate sponsors by example. Increased amounts will be requested from corporate sponsors as awards are renegotiated over the next few years.
The ASM sponsors special awards in microbiology each year at the Intel Science and Engineering Fair. About 80 students present projects in this category. The top ten projects receive a cash prize and a certificate. All entrants in microbiology receive student membership to ASM and a letter from the ASM President. The full list of students participating in the microbiology category is printed in Microbe.
AAM staff continues to work with sponsors and volunteers to ensure the financial viability of the awards program. Several hundred AAM Fellows and other ASM members volunteer their time to ensure ASM awards are the very best in our science.
The winners of the 2012 awards to be presented at the General Meeting are:
Abbott Award in Clinical and Diagnostic Immunology honors a distinguished scientist in the field of clinical or diagnostic immunology.
Bruce S. Rabin, M.D., Ph.D., Medical Director, Clinical Immunopathology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, PA
Abbott-ASM Lifetime Achievement Award honors an individual whose made sustained contributions to the microbiological sciences.
Stuart B. Levy, M.D., Director, Center for Adaptation Genetics and Drug Resistance, Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA
ABMM/ABMLI Professional Recognition Award recognizes an ABMM or ABMLI Diplomate for outstanding contributions to the professional recognition of clinical microbiologists and/or immunologists.
L. Barth Reller, M.D., Director of Clinical Microbiology, Professor of Pathology and Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham
ASM Founders Distinguished Service Award recognizes a member of ASM for outstanding contributions to the Society in a volunteer capacity at the national level.
Ellen Jo Baron, Ph.D., Director, Medical Affairs, Cepheid, Sunnyvale, CA
ASM Graduate Microbiology Teaching Award honors an individual for exemplary teaching of microbiology and mentoring of students at the graduate and postgraduate levels and for encouraging students to subsequent achievement.
Joanna B. Goldberg, Ph.D., Professor, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
BD Award for Research in Clinical Microbiology honors a distinguished clinical microbiologist for outstanding research accomplishments leading to or forming the foundation for important applications in clinical microbiology.
Patrice Courvalin, M.D., Head of the Antibacterial Agents Unit, Insitut Pasteur, Paris, France
bioMérieux Sonnenwirth Award for Leadership in Clinical Microbiology recognizes a distinguished microbiologist for the promotion of innovation in clinical laboratory science, dedication to ASM, and the advancement of clinical microbiology as a profession.
Susan E. Sharp, M.S., Ph.D., Director of Microbiology, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Portland, OR
Carski Foundation Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award recognizes a mature individual for distinguished teaching of microbiology to undergraduate students and for encouraging them to subsequent achievement.
Lilliam Casillas-Martinez, Ph.D., Full Professor, University of Puerto Rico, Humacao
DC White Research and Mentoring Award recognizes distinguished accomplishments in interdisciplinary research and mentoring in microbiology.
E. Peter Greenberg, Ph.D., Professor of Microbiology, University of Washington, Seattle
Eli Lilly and Company Research Award rewards fundamental research of unusual merit in microbiology or immunology.
Akiko Iwasaki, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
Gen-Probe Joseph Public Health Award honors a distinguished microbiologist who has exhibited exemplary leadership and service in the field of public health.
I. Kaye Wachsmuth, Ph.D., International Public Health Consultant, Independent Consultant, DeLand, FL
GlaxoSmithKline International Member of the Year Award honors a distinguished microbiologist who has exhibited exemplary leadership in the international microbiological community.
Geoffrey L. Smith, Ph.D., Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow and Head, Department of Pathology, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Maurice Hilleman/Merck Award honors outstanding contributions toward fostering the research training of underrepresented minorities in microbiology.
Myron M. Levine, M.D., Grollman Distinguished Professor and Director, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore
Merck Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award recognize and award excellence in basic research in medical microbiology and infectious diseases.
Joseph D. Mougous, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Microbiology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle
Anthony Richardson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Microbiology & Immunology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Moselio Schaechter Distinguished Service Award honors an ASM member who has shown exemplary leadership and commitment towards the substantial furthering of the profession of microbiology in research, education or technology in the developing world.
Jayaraman Gowrishankar, Ph.D., Director, Staff Scientist, Laboratory of Bacterial Genetics, Centre for DNA Fingerprinting & Diagnostics, Hyderabad, India
Procter & Gamble Award in Applied and Environmental Microbiology recognizes distinguished achievement in research and development in applied (non-clinical) and environmental microbiology.
Bess Ward, Ph.D., William J. Sinclair Professor of Geosciences, Princeton University, New Jersey
Promega Biotechnology Research Award honors outstanding contributions to the application of biotechnology through fundamental microbiological research and development.
Bernhard Palsson, Ph.D., Galetti Professor of Bioengineering, University of California, San Diego
Raymond W. Sarber Awards recognize students at the undergraduate and predoctoral levels for research excellence and potential.
Jeff Chen, University of California, Davis
Sandeep Kishore, Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) Fellow, Weill Cornell/Rockefeller/Sloan- Kettering Tri‐Intuitional, New York, NY
Roche Diagnostics Alice C. Evans Award honors a member of ASM for major contributions toward the full participation and advancement of women in microbiology.
Micah I. Krichevsky, Ph.D., Chairman, Bionomics International, Wheaton, MD
Scherago-Rubin Award recognizes an outstanding, bench-level clinical microbiologist.
Brent Barrett, Indiana State Department of Health Laboratory, Indianapolis
Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics Young Investigator Award recognizes research excellence and potential to further the educational or research objectives of an outstanding young clinical scientist.
Aaron R. Jex, Ph.D., University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
USFCC/J. Roger Porter Award recognizes outstanding efforts by a scientist who has demonstrated the importance of microbial biodiversity through sustained curatorial or stewardship activities for a major resource used by the scientific community.
Stephen J. Giovannoni, Ph.D., Professor, Oregon State University
William A. Hinton Research Training Award honors outstanding contributions toward fostering the research training of underrepresented minorities in microbiology.
LaJoyce H. Debro, Ph.D., Professor of Biology, Jacksonville State University, AL