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  • The Watanakunakorn Clinician Award

    Current Winner

    JamesJAMES M. HORTON, MD, FIDSA, a committed and passionate infectious diseases clinician and researcher for more than 30 years, is the recipient of IDSA’s 2015 Watanakunakorn Clinician Award. Named to honor the memory of Dr. Chatrchai Watanakunakorn, this award is presented by the IDSA Education and Research Foundation to recognize an IDSA member or fellow for outstanding achievement in the clinical practice of infectious diseases.
    Following six years in private practice, Dr. Horton joined the faculty of the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC, in 1991, where he has served as chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and as a clinical professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ever since. Widely recognized as a first-rate clinician-educator, he carries a full clinical load in the general infectious diseases and HIV clinics, and attends on the general medicine and infectious diseases consult services, in addition to his many administrative responsibilities. In May of this year he was awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

    The HIV clinic that Dr. Horton started has become a model of “one-stop” HIV care in the community. It now serves more than 1,400 patients, including the homeless and the uninsured, with a multidisciplinary staff. In recognition of his compassionate care of patients infected with HIV, Dr. Horton received the House of Mercy Award from the Sisters of Mercy of the Catholic Church in 1995 and the Jim Oehler Award for community service in 1991 and again in 2004. Honored as one of Charlotte’s citizens of the year in 1992, he is admired for his ability to empathize with patients, including those with severe illness. In 2006, a grateful patient and her family named a private park after him.

    A model clinician-investigator, Dr. Horton has maintained an active research program despite his heavy clinical load. His studies have included numerous phase II and III clinical trials of several important HIV antiretroviral drugs, inpatient treatment studies of candidemia, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-sponsored studies of rifapentine for the treatment of tuberculosis. He and his colleagues also conducted some of the early trials evaluating goal-directed therapy for sepsis beginning in the emergency department. Most recently, his research has examined the skin microbiome in the setting of MRSA skin abcesses. His many contacts in the medical research field have also helped his patients with unusual conditions access needed specialized services.

    In addition to his work as a clinician and researcher, Dr. Horton served on IDSA’s Standards and Practice Guidelines Committee, including as the committee’s chair from 2011 to 2013. During his time on the committee, it reviewed and helped bring to publication 15 clinical practice guidelines covering a wide range of important infectious diseases topics, including diabetic foot infections, skin and soft tissue infections, and Clostridium difficile infections. Under his leadership, the committee also implemented new standards for evidence-based guideline development and con.ict of interest management, aligning IDSA guidelines with best practices in these areas.

    A graduate of Duke University in Durham, NC, Dr. Horton received a medical degree from Duke’s School of Medicine in 1977. After pursuing an internship and residency at the University of Florida in Gainesville, he completed his Infectious Disease fellowships at Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans and at the University of Colorado in Denver—before entering private practice in 1984.

    For his great compassion and dedication to clinical practice, which has bene.ted countless patients in his community and beyond, IDSA is proud to recognize Dr. Horton with the 2015 Watanakunakorn Clinician Award.

    Past Winners of the Watanakunakorn Clinician Award 

    2014      Eliot W. Godofsky, MD
    2013      Johan S. Bakken, MD, PhD and Thomas M. File, Jr., MD, MSc
    2012 David N. Gilbert, MD, FIDSA
    2011 Stan Deresinski, MD, FIDSA
    2010     Marvin J. Tenenbaum, MD, FIDSA
    2009 Lawrence J. Eron, MD, FIDSA
    2008 Michael L. Butera, MD
    2007 Timothy T. Kuberski, MD, FIDSA
    2006 Barbara H. Wade, MD, FIDSA
    2005 James S. Tan, MD
    2004 Donald M. Poretz, MD
    2003 Steven Jon Berman, MD, FACP and Richard N. Olans, MD
    2002 William A. Agger, MD
    2001 H. Gunner Deery, MD and Peter T. Frame, MD
    2000 Martin C. McHenry, MD, MS and Chatrchai Watanakunakorn, MD
    1999 Gonzalo Ballon-Landa, MD and Thomas G. Slama, MD
    1998 David S. McKinsey, MD and Daniel J. Sexton, MD
    1997 Ramon E. Moncada, MD
    1996 George Atkinson, MD Pankey, MD and Alan D. Tice, MD
    1995 Ellie J.C. Goldstein, MD
    1994 George Thornton, MD
    1993 Edward Septimus, MD


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