IDSA Recognizes Leading Infectious Diseases Experts
The Infectious Diseases Society of America is honoring 12 exemplary leaders in the field at IDWeek 2021. IDSA is pleased to recognize the following members for excellence in the field of infectious diseases:
Alexander Fleming Lifetime Achievement Award: David Relman, MD, FIDSA
David Relman, MD, FIDSA, a pioneer in the study of the human microbiome, is the recipient of IDSA’s 2021 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.
A trailblazing researcher, Dr. Relman developed the first cultivation-independent, molecular approach to identify previously uncharacterized microbes in humans. His work has inspired a revolution in ID molecular diagnostics. Dr. Relman is the Thomas C. and Joan M. Merigan Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology, and a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, where he joined the faculty in the early 1990s. He is also chief of infectious diseases at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System in Palo Alto, California.
A clear voice for ethics, transparency and the public good in the scientific enterprise, Dr. Relman has led many important national committees on microbial pathogens, genetics, bioterrorism and gastroenterological diseases. He has contributed to national policy discussions in multiple areas including gain-of-function research and most recently, the search for the origins of the SARS-CoV2 virus.
“Dr. Relman’s work has inspired a new field of discovery and transformed the way we think about the maintenance and restoration of health. We congratulate him on his revolutionary work and are honored to award him with the 2021 Alexander Fleming Award for Lifetime Achievement,” said Barbara Alexander, MD, FIDSA, President of IDSA.
Other awards presented during IDWeek 2021 include:
- The D.A. Henderson Award for Outstanding Contributions to Public Health, named to honor the memory of Dr. Donald Henderson, who led the successful eradication of smallpox, recognizes a lifetime of achievement in public health. The recipient of this honor is Lawrence C. Madoff, MD, FIDSA. A champion of public health and medical director of the Massachusetts Department of Health’s Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences, Dr. Madoff has been a key leader of the state’s COVID-19 response, including coordinating SARS-CoV-2 testing and updating the public on developments throughout the pandemic.
For nearly 20 years before stepping down in 2021, Dr. Madoff also served as editor of ProMED-mail, created by the International Society for Infectious Diseases to quickly identify unusual health events related to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and toxins affecting humans, animals and plants. In addition to his work in public health at the state and international levels, Dr. Madoff is a professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and also attends on the inpatient ID consult service at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center in Worcester. As a mentor, he has demonstrated tireless dedication to his trainees and to promoting the next generation of epidemiologists and ID physicians.
- The Watanakunakorn Clinician Award honors the memory of Dr. Chatrchai Watanakunakorn and recognizes an IDSA member for outstanding achievement in the clinical practice of infectious diseases. This year’s awardee is Steven W. Parker, MD, FIDSA. In 1984, Dr. Parker founded Sierra Infectious Diseases, a medical group that provides high-quality comprehensive ID inpatient consultative and outpatient services, serving all the major medical centers in Reno, Nevada, and neighboring areas. The practice, which has grown to include five physicians and four advanced practice registered nurses, has negotiated with a number of hospital systems regarding the value of ID services and fair compensation.
He has brought this experience to his service on several IDSA committees, including the Clinical Affairs Committee, the Standards and Practice Guidelines Committee, and the Development and Professional Equity Committee. As an IDSA delegate to the American Medical Association since 2010, he has also championed the value of ID physician services. Dr. Parker’s work in sustaining high-quality ID care in his region for nearly 30 years has paved the way for his peers and greatly benefited patients in Reno and surrounding rural areas who otherwise might not have received the ID care they needed without travelling long distances.
- The Walter E. Stamm Mentor Award, which honors late past-president Walter E. Stamm, MD, is presented to an IDSA member who has been exceptional in guiding the growth of ID professionals. This year’s winner is Michael Wessels, MD, FIDSA. The John F. Enders Professor of Pediatrics and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, Dr. Wessels served as chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Boston Children’s Hospital for 18 years, from 2000 to 2018, where he continues to serve as a senior physician. During his time as chief, he guided hundreds of faculty, fellows and students to academic success, serving as a strong supporter of both the clinical and basic science branches of the division. He ensured that he connected personally with all faculty and fellows and that he was familiar with their research projects, providing encouragement as well as intellectual and practical advice.
Dr. Wessels’ mentees praise his ability to offer guidance supporting their clinical, research and professional development at various stages of their careers. As a scientist researching the pathogenesis of streptococcal pathogens, he has directly trained 39 faculty and fellows, the majority of whom have continued to conduct research or hold clinical positions in infectious diseases. Under his mentorship, these trainees have contributed to more than 100 high-impact manuscripts.
- The Oswald Avery Award for Early Achievement recognizes outstanding achievement in infectious diseases by a member of IDSA who is 45 or younger. This year’s recipient is Michail Lionakis, MD, ScD, FIDSA. An outstanding physician-scientist, Dr. Lionakis is a senior investigator at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, where he is also chief of the Fungal Pathogenesis Section and deputy chief of the Laboratory of Clinical Immunology and Microbiology. His research has identified novel genetic and immunologic factors that can explain susceptibility to fungal infections. More recently, recognizing the need for novel approaches to the management of COVID-19, he has also provided leadership to a group assessing the inhibition of BTK-dependent NF-kB and inflammasome activation in macrophages on the progression of COVID-19. This work formed the basis for phase II and III trials of acalabrutinib.
The author of more than 160 articles in peer-reviewed publications and a global leader in his field, Dr. Lionakis has built a clinical program at NIH that is a magnet for young investigators and is rapidly expanding its scope and accomplishments. He has served on multiple committees at NIH and elsewhere and has received several honors, including the NIH Director’s Award and the NIAID Merit Award.
- The Clinical Practice Innovation Award recognizes members who devote the majority of their time to patient care and who have significantly advanced the clinical practice of infectious diseases within the last 5 years through innovation in clinical practice design or management, or advocacy on behalf of IDSA that fosters change to better recognize the value of ID practice. This year IDSA presents this award to two individuals: Erin K. McCreary, PharmD, BCPS, BCIDP, and Vera Luther, MD, FIDSA.
Through her adept use of different media platforms, Dr. McCreary shares cutting-edge information about ID therapeutics with speed and expertise. As the executive producer and host of “Breakpoints”, the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists podcast, Dr. McCreary has grown the program’s reach to nearly 90,000 streams reaching 52 countries on six continents. On Twitter, her engaging educational threads that break down novel evidence have been widely followed and shared.
At the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Infectious Disease Connect Inc., where she serves as the director of stewardship innovation, Dr. McCreary leads the development of evidence-based, novel therapeutic strategies. By designing a therapeutic interchange policy that allowed all patients to be treated in the context of a clinical trial, she has pioneered a system of 59 centers that have treated over 3,000 patients with COVID-19 monoclonal antibodies. She also serves as the lead pharmacist investigator for the global REMAP-CAP trial and worked to embed the trial into UPMC’s electronic health record so patients in hospital, community and rural sites all had equal opportunity to enroll.
From design to implementation, Dr. Luther has worked with IDSA staff and led the society’s Antimicrobial Stewardship Curriculum Work Group to create two successful offerings, the Core AS Curriculum and the Advanced AS Curriculum, both available through the IDSA Academy. The core program has been incorporated into 78 fellowship programs and completed by 311 fellows. More than 800 students at medical schools have also completed the program. The advanced curriculum recently finished a promising pilot year, with 223 participants from 28 institutions.
Dr. Luther is a professor of medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine’s Section of Infectious Diseases at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she also serves as director of the ID fellowship program. In addition to her leadership in the area of stewardship, she has also worked to improve patient care through trainee education, engaging learners so they see the value of the ID physician and recruiting the best and brightest to the field.
- The Society Citation Award is a discretionary award given in recognition of exemplary contribution to IDSA, an outstanding discovery in the field of infectious diseases or a lifetime of outstanding achievement. This year IDSA presents this award to four individuals: Dial Hewlett Jr., MD, FIDSA, Suzanne F. Bradley, MD, FIDSA, Henry Masur, MD, FIDSA, and Tina Tan, MD, FIDSA.
As medical director of the Division of Disease Control and deputy to the commissioner of health in the Westchester County Department of Health in New York, Dr. Hewlett has played a major role in the county’s pandemic response. As a member of the National Medical Association’s COVID-19 Task Force, he has disseminated the science of COVID-19 throughout the United States, educating physicians and members of the public.
Through his numerous media appearances, including as a spokesperson for IDSA, he has dispelled myths and misconceptions about COVID-19 vaccines, especially in the African American community. Dedicated to promoting inclusion and diversity in IDSA, Dr. Hewlett has been instrumental in bringing young physicians of color into IDSA and in growing the society’s George Counts Interest Group.
As a member and chair of IDSA’s Standards and Practice Guidelines Committee, Dr. Bradley has played a major role in the society’s efforts to complete timely guidelines that advance excellence in clinical care. During her tenure as chair from 2017 to 2020, 18 guidelines were completed, including the revised Lyme disease and Babesiosis guidelines, which were large and complicated projects. Dr. Bradley’s tenure as chair extended throughout the first many months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and under her leadership, IDSA stood up a robust panel of experts to develop rapid living guidelines on COVID-19—the first guidelines of their kind at IDSA. She was instrumental in leading the committee into a new era of innovation in best practices, the engagement of a broader and more diverse committee, improvements in analytics and new standards for streamlining the group’s work.
A nationally recognized expert in the problem of infections in older adults, Dr. Bradley is a professor of internal medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Michigan Medical School and hospital epidemiologist for the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System. Dr. Bradley has shown extensive commitment and dedication in leading the Standards and Practice Guidelines Committee in developing timely and relevant guidelines that have greatly improved the treatment of patients around the world.
As IDSA’s liaison to the Surviving Sepsis Campaign Guidelines Committee, Dr. Masur has brought balance by emphasizing the importance of weighing the potential harms of unnecessary antibiotic use against the risks of delayed treatment. Since 2017, he has served as chair of IDSA’s Sepsis Task Force, which is charged with enhancing the quality of sepsis care. Under his leadership, this group has been working to reduce the risk of antibiotic overuse in U.S. hospitals by recommending changes to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ SEP-1 national sepsis quality measure.
Dr. Masur has fostered efforts to develop position papers articulating IDSA’s position and to bring together multiple professional societies to identify key areas within the measure that can be improved, demonstrating that IDSA’s concerns are shared by many. A highly respected leader in the field, Dr. Masur is chief of the Critical Care Medicine Department at the NIH’s Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, a position he has held since 1989.
Under Dr. Tan’s leadership as chair, IDSA’s Inclusion, Diversity, Access and Equity Task Force has been a consistent voice for trusted experts to address long-standing health care disparities and inequalities for vulnerable and underserved communities. She has led the group through the development of several published articles highlighting racial disparities uncovered and reinforced by COVID-19 including in the African American, Hispanic/Latinx, LGBTQ+ and rural communities.
A professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and an attending physician at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Dr. Tan is also the medical director for the hospital’s International Adoptee Clinic, where she provides evaluations for children being adopted from around the world. She has participated in numerous IDSA podcasts, news briefings and media interviews. Dr. Tan has championed the underserved and underrepresented by sharing her expertise and cultural perspectives with mentees, colleagues and the public, advocating for the equal treatment for all patients. She has been instrumental in advancing the society’s inclusion, diversity, access and equity initiatives.
- The Clinical Teacher Award honors a career dedicated to teaching clinical infectious diseases to fellows, residents and medical students, and recognizes excellence as a clinician and motivation to teach the next generation of physicians. This year the award goes to Carlos Isada, MD. During his 25 years as the program director of the ID fellowship training program at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, Dr. Isada pioneered innovative ways to teach years before these approaches were introduced elsewhere to improve medical education. Separating the components of clinical and diagnostic reasoning, he has developed intentional methods to convey individual decision points, where true learning begins, and to evaluate a learner’s performance.
Dr. Isada has received numerous awards for his teaching, including multiple teacher-of-the-year honors from the Cleveland Clinic, where he is the vice-chair of the Department of Infectious Diseases and a staff physician. He also serves as associate program director of the internal medicine residency training program. He has trained more than 100 fellows and has influenced and mentored countless teachers from across the country who have sought to become more intentional medical educators.
“These outstanding members have made lasting contributions to the field of infectious diseases and on behalf of the Society, I am proud to award each of them for their efforts. Despite the challenges our field is facing in fighting a pandemic, it is important that we take the time to recognize those who have been going above and beyond, whether as a leader, mentor, or innovator,” said Dr. Alexander.
For full awards descriptions, recipient biographies and information about other awards given to Society members this year, please visit www.idsociety.org/about-idsa/society-awards/.
About the Infectious Diseases Society of America
IDSA is a leader on issues of importance to ID professionals, including education and training, policy and advocacy, setting guidelines for patient care, and developing resources for clinical practice. It remains at the forefront of global health issues such as COVID-19, antimicrobial resistance and HIV/AIDS. Housed within IDSA is the HIV Medicine Association, (HIVMA) which represents medical providers and researchers working on the front lines of HIV. More than 12,000 IDSA and HIVMA members work across the United States and in nearly 100 other countries on six different continents. For more information visit www.idsociety.org. Follow IDSA on Facebook and Twitter.