Dr. Arturo Casadevall recently spoke about the infectious-disease crisis in delivering the Kass Lecture at the annual meeting of the IDSA/ICAAC in Washington, D.C. The lecture, which is given to an assembly of the entire meeting, honors the memory of Edward H. Kass, and is considered among the highest honors bestowed in the field of infectious diseases.
Dr. Casadevall, chair and Forchheimer professor of microbiology and immunology, became the first member of the Einstein faculty to receive this special honor. ï¿½The alarming rise in anti-microbial-resistant strains, the increasing frequency of serious infections in immunocompromised patients, and the paucity of new types of antibiotics suggest the need for re-evaluation of the manner in which infections are treated,ï¿½ he noted in his lecture. He then described how science has approached the problem. He also noted, however, that in recent years broad spectrum antibiotic use has been associated with many conditions ranging from breast cancer to asthma, problems that may result from unintended disruption of the microbes that normally populate our bodies.
In closing, Dr. Casadevall suggested that the field of infectious disease needs to adapt a new approach in the future. He recommended the use of pathogen-specific drugs that target disease-causing microbes without affecting beneficial microbes that exist in us in a symbiotic state, and help to protect us from disease. One example of these symbionts is the E.coli bacteria that populate the human intestine and help to suppress salmonella, shigella and other disease-causing intestinal bacteria. Therefore, Dr. Casadevall suggested that ï¿½kill the microbeï¿½ ï¿½ the slogan familiar to those in the field of infectious diseases ï¿½ should be changed to ï¿½protect the symbiont.ï¿½
The Kass Lecture is one of several honors that Dr. Casadevall has received in 2008. Earlier this year he was given the William A. Hinton Research Training Award for his influence as a mentor to underrepresented minority students in microbiology. He also received a Faculty Mentoring Award for basic science at Einsteinï¿½s Davidoff Education Day in honor of his work in helping students, post-doctorates, and residents during his career at Einstein.
Posted on: Wednesday, November 26, 2008