What's In a Name?: Organism Named for Einstein Scientist

Dr. Louis Weiss has been a fan of tropical fish since childhood. He got his first fish tank at age 8. So, it seems rather fitting that he recently received an unusual honor that both reflects his expertise in the study of unicellular organisms and indirectly connects with his fascination with tropical fish: A newly identified form of microsporidium (parasite), called Ichthyosporidium weissii, which has been found to cause tumor-like collections (called xenomas) in the ovaries of female arrow goby fish, now bears his name.

"Arrow gobies are a California salt water species," said Dr. Weiss, whose own fish collection currently includes 20 tanks at his home, though they contain only fresh water species. "I've owned several species of gobies over the years, but never an arrow goby."

He explained, "The microsporidium that has been named for me replicates rapidly causing xenomas and eventually it can kill the fish."

Description of I. weissii is detailed in the May-June 2012 issue of the Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology. Among the papers authors is a visiting faculty member at Einstein, Dr. Peter Takvorian, who often collaborates with Dr. Weiss and is on faculty at Rutgers University. Under the subhead "Taxonomic Summary," the paper notes: "Etymology.  The species is named after the prominent protistologist, Dr. Louis Weiss, USA."

Dr. Weiss is professor of medicine (infectious diseases) and of pathology (parasitology), as well as co-director of the Einstein Global Health Center. In 1999, he co-authored a textbook, The Microsporidia and Microsporidiosis (American Society for Microbiology), with Einstein colleague Dr. Murray Wittner. The book addresses all aspects of microsporidia and microsporidiosis while providing a thorough, modern perspective of this group of parasites.

An arrow goby
An arrow goby
Dr. Weiss amid his collection of fish tanks at home
Dr. Weiss amid his collection of fish tanks at home
Dr. Weiss with the textbook on microsporidia that he co-authored with Einstein colleague Dr. Murray Wittner
Dr. Weiss with the textbook on microsporidia that he co-authored with Einstein colleague Dr. Murray Wittner
 

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