CAROL J. BAKER, MD, FIDSA, FSHEA, FPIDS, a strong advocate for children’s health who has greatly advanced the understanding of group B streptococcal (GBS) disease, is one of two recipients of IDSA’s 2016 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.
Beginning with her groundbreaking recognition of early and late GBS infections in young infants in 1973, Dr. Baker has expanded our knowledge of the pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, and changing epidemiology of this often devastating neonatal infection. Her work dissected the role of bacterial polysaccharide capsules and the interaction of these capsules with the human immune system in GBS infection. Since the mid-1990s, when Dr. Baker’s research and advocacy helped lead to universal screening and targeted prophylaxis recommendations for GBS among pregnant women in the U.S., the rate of this disease among newborns in the first week of life has declined by 80 percent. Due in large part to her tireless efforts over many years, a promising glycoconjugate vaccine for women to further prevent young infant GBS infections is currently in development.
A champion of vaccination, Dr. Baker has greatly impacted the nation’s public health through her service as both a member and chair of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Under her leadership as chair from 2009 to 2012, ACIP made critical decisions about how to best utilize vaccines to prevent human papillomavirus, varicella, meningococcal disease, pertussis, pneumococcal disease, rotavirus, measles, Japanese encephalitis, yellow fever, and influenza, including during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the first time in history a vaccine was available during a pandemic. Dr. Baker has also been a member of or led ACIP working groups focused on pregnancy, pertussis, yellow fever, and meningococcal disease. She currently serves as IDSA’s liaison to ACIP.
The author of 325 peer-reviewed publications and 77 book chapters, Dr. Baker has served as an associate editor for five editions of the American Academy of Pediatrics Red Book, an essential reference for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of infectious diseases in children that is used by health care providers around the world. Highly sought after for her expertise, she has served on advisory boards and committees for the Food and Drug Administration, the Institute of Medicine, and several pharmaceutical companies, and has served on the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center’s Board of Scientific Counselors and the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Baker is professor of pediatrics, molecular virology, and microbiology at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where she also earned her medical degree. After an internship at the University of Southern California Los Angeles County Medical Center, she completed her residency and a fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at Baylor. Following a research fellowship at Harvard Medical School and a clinical fellowship in medicine at Boston City Hospital, Dr. Baker returned to Baylor, where she has been on the faculty since 1975 and served as head of the Section of Pediatric Infectious Disease from 1982 to 2007.
An IDSA Maxwell Finland Lecturer in 1994, Dr. Baker has served on several IDSA committees and the IDSA Council, and was president of IDSA from 2000 to 2001, a time of significant membership growth for the organization. The recipient of a Society Citation in 2011 for her contributions to the field and her commitment to IDSA, she chaired a special panel that extensively reviewed IDSA’s Lyme disease clinical practice guidelines, completing its work in 2010. Dr. Baker has also served on several PIDS committees, the PIDS Council, as PIDS secretary, and she is a past president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. She has served on the editorial boards of several scientific journals.
Dr. Baker has received several teaching awards and has inspired countless medical students and residents to pursue careers in pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases. As a committed clinician, scientist, and educator dedicated to improving the health of patients and public health, Dr. Baker has been a caring mentor for many infectious diseases trainees who now hold important clinical, research, and leadership positions in infectious diseases in the U.S. and beyond. Dr. Baker has received numerous honors, including the PIDS Distinguished Service Award (1997) and Distinguished Physician Award (2007), an IDSA Mentor Award (2008), the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases John P. Utz Leadership Award (2009), and the National Meningitis Association Health Achievement Award (2015).
A renowned expert in the fields of GBS disease and vaccination policy, Dr. Baker’s important contributions and strong commitment have greatly benefited the lives of pregnant women, newborns, their families, and the broader public health. IDSA is proud to recognize Dr. Baker with a 2016 Alexander Fleming Award for Lifetime Achievement.
P. FREDERICK SPARLING, MD, FIDSA, a recognized leader in the study of Neisseria gonorrhoeae and the pathogenesis of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), is one of two recipients of IDSA’s 2016 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. Sparling’s interdisciplinary research has contributed enormously to the field of sexually transmitted bacterial infections throughout his 45-year career. This began with landmark papers describing a genetic system for studying N gonorrhoeae, and the genetics of gonococcal chromosomal antibiotic resistance, still the basis of modern work. These were followed by two articles published in Science and Nature in the late 1970s describing the discovery of the conjugal transfer of penicillinase-producing plasmids among N. gonorrhoeae. His research elucidated the structure and function of outer membrane proteins, including porins and iron receptors, demonstrating how these pathogens acquire iron in vivo and the essential role this plays in pathogenesis. These findings led to many additional important discoveries that contributed much to what is known today about the mechanisms of pathogenicity and antimicrobial resistance of this organism. Despite being firmly rooted in bacterial molecular genetics, however, Dr. Sparling’s work never strayed far from the clinical implications of discoveries in the laboratory and how they should inform policy decisions.
Emeritus professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology at the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine, Dr. Sparling retired in 2014. An adept physician-scientist, clinician-educator, and administrator at UNC, he served as chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases in UNC’s Department of Medicine (1976-1981), chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology (1981-1989), and chair of the Department of Medicine (1989-1999). He also directed the Southeast Regional Center of Excellence in Biodefense and Emerging Infections, a multi-institution effort based at UNC, and the UNC Sexually Transmitted Diseases Cooperative Research Center, in addition to serving on multiple university committees
Continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) throughout his career, Dr. Sparling in 1988 received an NIH Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award in recognition of his research accomplishments. He has published more than 130 peer-reviewed publications, authored more than 70 book chapters, and co-edited several textbooks on STDs. A sought after consultant, he has served on numerous study sections, committees, task forces, working groups, and scientific advisory boards. He has been a member of several Institute of Medicine (IOM) committees, including the Committee on Emerging Microbial Threats to Health, which produced a landmark report in 1992 that defined the concept of emerging and reemerging infections. Dr. Sparling served on IOM’s Forum on Emerging Infections (now the Forum on Microbial Threats) from its inception in 1996 until 2014, serving as vice chair from 2004 to 2007.
Widely regarded for his clinical acumen, approach to patients, and ability to link molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis to the presentation and outcome of infections, Dr. Sparling has recruited numerous young physicians to the ID field with his enthusiasm for understanding and managing infectious diseases. He has mentored countless fellows and junior faculty, and has inspired a sustained appreciation for the understanding of the basis of disease and the ability to use that knowledge to mitigate the impact of infections. Many of his trainees now hold leadership positions at other academic institutions, and he continues to mentor young faculty and students in his retirement.
An IDSA Joseph E. Smadel Lecturer in 1988 and a Maxwell Finland Lecturer in 2000, Dr. Sparling served on the IDSA Council and was president of the Society from 1996 to 1997. He has received several awards, including the UNC Medical Alumni’s Distinguished Faculty Award (1993) and multiple outstanding teacher awards. He has been elected to both the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians, which in 2015 selected Dr. Sparling to deliver the George M. Kober Lecture, the organization’s highest honor, awarded once every three years. He has received numerous other named lectureship honors during his career and served as a visiting professor at institutions around the country.
Dr. Sparling earned a medical degree from Harvard Medical School, followed by an internship and residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and a position at the U.S. Public Health Service’s Venereal Diseases Research Laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. He completed his fellowship training in infectious diseases at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital before joining the UNC faculty in 1969, where he greatly influenced the development of programs in infectious diseases, microbiology, and STDs.
A skilled physician, scientist, and administrator, Dr. Sparling’s contributions to the science of microbial infections and to those he has supported as a mentor and colleague throughout his distinguished career have been profound. IDSA is proud to recognize him with a 2016 Alexander Fleming Award for Lifetime Achievement.
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