ERIC R. HOUPT, MD, FIDSA, a clinician-scientist who has broken important new ground in the development of molecular diagnostics for infectious diseases, is the recipient of IDSA’s 2015 Oswald Avery Award for Early Achievement. This honor recognizes members or fellows of IDSA age 45 or younger who have demonstrated outstanding achievements in an area of infectious diseases. Dr. Houpt is the Jack M. Gwaltney Jr. Professor in Infectious Diseases at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where he also serves as vice chair for research in the Department of Medicine. His research has quickly earned him an international reputation. Dr. Houpt’s research on enteric infections in children in resource-limited settings has produced significant findings with the potential to fundamentally change how infectious diarrhea is recognized, prevented, and treated.This work, including major studies published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases in 2013 and Lancet Infectious Diseases in 2014, found that diarrhea in these settings is often a multipathogen event and a state of enteropathogen excess above a high carriage baseline. Assays developed for this research are now being used to study the changing etiology of diarrhea in the context of rotavirus vaccination and to identify vaccine-derived polio. Dr. Houpt is the principal investigator for a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded project that is using similar molecular diagnostic methods at multiple sites around the world to further discern the etiology of childhood diarrhea and malnutrition, leading causes of mortality. Dr. Houpt’s group has also developed assays that enable susceptibility testing of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis within a few days of culture. This represents a substantial advance over traditional culture-based drug susceptibility testing, which can take weeks. A member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Council for the Elimination of Tuberculosis, Dr. Houpt also serves as a tuberculosis consultant for the Virginia Department of Health, where he has developed the state’s program into a national leader for its therapeutic drug monitoring efforts and clinical research. As a junior fellow, Dr. Houpt developed a mouse model of colitis with the parasite Entamoeba histolytica that is now the standard for the field. The model, which has been critical for early vaccine development, allowed for the identification of protective interferon-gamma and interleukin-17 mediated immunity, and demonstrated that the mechanism of malnutrition-induced susceptibility is via leptin receptor signaling in the intestinal epithelium. Dr. Houpt earned a medical degree from Emory University in Atlanta in 1996. He completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at the University of Chicago and an infectious diseases fellowship at the University of Virginia, where he joined the faculty in 2002. An integral part of the clinical, teaching, and mentoring activities there, Dr. Houpt attends on the general medicine and infectious diseases consult service. He works frequently at field sites in Bangladesh and Tanzania, where more than 40 medical students, housestaff, and undergraduates from the University of Virginia have participated in rotations. The author of more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, Dr. Houpt was elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation in 2011. He has received several honors, including the IDSA Wyeth-Lederle Vaccines Young Investigator Award in Infectious Diseases (2002), the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America Basic Career Development Award (2006), and the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Bailey K. Ashford Medal (2010). For his groundbreaking research in molecular diagnostics and their application to challenging questions in infectious diseases, IDSA is proud to honor Dr. Houpt with IDSA’s 2015 Oswald Avery Award for Early Achievement.
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