MARTIN S. HIRSCH, MD, FIDSA, a world leader in research on the pathogenesis and treatment of herpes group viruses and HIV-1, is the recipient of IDSA’s 2012 Alexander Fleming Award for Lifetime Achievement. This award recognizes a career that reflects major contributions to the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge about infectious diseases. Dr. Hirsch’s efforts have helped lead to the development of the first effective treatments for herpes simplex encephalitis and neonatal herpes simplex infections, establishing that drug therapy of viral infections was possible.
Dr. Hirsch has had an exemplary 40-year career as a clinician scientist and laboratory investigator focused on viral diseases. He has spent nearly his entire professional career at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School (HMS), achieving the rank of professor of medicine at HMS, professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard School of Public Health, and senior physician at MGH. Dr. Hirsch founded a diagnostic virology laboratory at MGH, and served as its director for 17 years.
After earning his medical degree in 1964 from Johns Hopkins University Medical School, he completed an internship and junior residency in internal medicine at the University of Chicago. He then conducted research at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, and the National Institute of Medical Research in London, England, before completing his ID training at MGH and Harvard in 1971.
Dr. Hirsch was one of the first to recognize the significance of what was to become the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s. His laboratory conducted numerous pioneering studies on HIV pathogenesis and therapy, and many of his trainees have become international leaders in AIDS research. Among several other observations, his laboratory’s findings gave credence to the concept that HIV-1 could be sexually transmitted. He also effectively organized investigators at Harvard and Boston University hospitals to become one of the most productive AIDS Clinical Trials Groups (ACTG) in the country.
As one of the premier clinical-translational virologists in the world, Dr. Hirsch has helped to usher in the modern era of antiviral therapy. His group conducted landmark laboratory and clinical antiretroviral studies, demonstrating that different combinations of drugs could be synergistic, additive or antagonistic in inhibiting HIV replication. His impact on the field of viral therapeutics will extend for many years to come.
Dr. Hirsch has authored or co-authored more than 240 articles that have appeared in peer-reviewed publications, as well as over 170 chapters and clinical guidelines. He currently serves as editor-in-chief of The Journal of Infectious Diseases. Other editorial achievements include serving as an infectious diseases editor of the online textbook UpToDate, an associate editor for Clinical Infectious Diseases, and serving on numerous editorial boards, including The New England Journal of Medicine.
Dr. Hirsch has held major national and international leadership positions, including chairing the NIH ACTG program, the NIH AIDS Program Advisory Committee, and the International AIDS Society-USA Panel on Antiretroviral Resistance.
Dr. Hirsch was the first recipient of the IDSA Mentor Award and has been an IDSA Enders lecturer. IDSA is proud to present Dr. Hirsch with yet another award for his outstanding contributions to the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge about infectious diseases—the 2012 Alexander Fleming Award for Lifetime Achievement.
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