Leading Infectious Diseases Experts Honored at IDWeek 2019 with IDSA Society Awards
Among the eight exceptional individuals being honored by IDSA and the IDSA Foundation at IDWeek 2019 in Washington, DC, W. Michael Scheld, MD, FIDSA, is the recipient of the Alexander Fleming Award for lifetime achievement. IDSA is pleased to recognize the following individuals for excellence in the field of infectious diseases:
Alexander Fleming Lifetime Achievement Award: W. Michael Scheld, MD, FIDSA
W. Michael Scheld, MD, FIDSA, is an accomplished scientist and scholar whose research has greatly expanded our knowledge of serious life-threatening infections including infective endocarditis, bacterial meningitis, and sepsis. Over his 40 years as an investigator and educator, Dr. Scheld drove forward our understanding of the pathophysiology of these infections by his exceptional work using molecular tools and animal models. The recipient of more than 100 research grants over his career, his impact has extended from the bench to the bedside, influencing recommendations for treatment.
Dr. Scheld is the Bayer-Gerald L. Mandell Professor of Infectious Diseases, a professor of medicine, and a clinical professor of neurosurgery at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, where he has also served as the director of the Pfizer Initiative in International Health. He has contributed more than 230 peer-reviewed publications to the literature; has edited more than 15 books, including Infections of the Central Nervous System, considered a gold standard in the field; and has served on the editorial boards of several journals.
A past president of IDSA, Dr. Scheld formed and was a member of the Society’s Antimicrobial Availability Task Force, established to help address the concerning drop in antibiotic development by the pharmaceutical industry in the face of increasing drug resistance. He has served on IDSA’s annual meeting program committee and the panels that authored clinical practice guidelines for the management of bacterial meningitis, encephalitis, and healthcare-associated ventriculitis and meningitis.
“Dr. Scheld’s four decades of seminal research, scholarship, and teaching have had a tremendous and lasting impact on the field, on our knowledge of multiple serious life-threatening infections, and on those he has collaborated with and taught. The Society is proud to honor him with the 2019 Alexander Fleming Award for Lifetime Achievement,” said Cynthia Sears, MD, FIDSA, President of IDSA.
Other awards presented during IDWeek 2019 include:
The A. Henderson Award for Outstanding Contributions to Public Health, named after the late epidemiologist who directed the international effort to eradicate smallpox. The recipient of this honor is Catherine M. Wilfert, MD, FIDSA. A relentless advocate for the treatment and prevention of HIV in infants, Dr. Wilfert has made many seminal contributions in this area during her long career. These include leading the development of treatments for children infected with HIV and leading the effort to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV in North Carolina, which resulted in a 90 percent reduction in just 3 years, followed by similar efforts to reduce perinatal HIV transmission across the U.S. and around the world, leading to a 47 percent decrease in new infections globally.
A professor of pediatrics and microbiology and division chief of pediatric ID in the Department of Pediatrics at Duke University School of Medicine for many years until the mid-1990s, Dr. Wilfert joined the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation as its scientific director in 1996. She spent many months of each year working in Africa, designing and implementing strategies to interfere with mother-to-child transmission. Her studies were the basis for policy changes, including at the World Health Organization. Dr. Wilfert has been a world leader in the tremendous progress that has been made in the reduction of perinatal HIV transmission.
The Watanakunakorn Clinician Award honors the memory of Dr. Chatrchai Watanakunakorn and is given by the IDSA Foundation to an IDSA member or fellow in recognition of outstanding achievement in the clinical practice of infectious diseases. This year’s awardee is Virginia D. Banks, MD, MBA, FIDSA. An infectious diseases physician with Northeast Ohio Infectious Disease Associates in Youngstown, Ohio, Dr. Banks is nationally known for providing leadership and innovative solutions for infection control in hospitals including developing comprehensive care systems, effective outreach activities, creative educational programs, and rigorous clinical studies during her time at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Horizon Health System. Dr. Banks has provided expertise in HIV treatment and prevention, influenza, immunization, and hepatitis C, among other topics, in her role as an active partner with the National Medical Association, the nation’s largest and oldest organization representing African American physicians and their patients.
Dr. Banks has contributed to IDSA in many ways, including as co-chair of the Professional Development and Equity Committee and as a member of the Education Committee. She has served on HIVMA’s Nominations Committee and Minority Fellowship Committee. Earlier this year, she was named to IDSA’s newly established Leadership Development Committee.
The Walter E. Stamm Mentor Award, which honors late past-president Walter E. Stamm, MD, is presented to an IDSA member or fellow who has been exceptional in guiding the growth of infectious diseases professionals. This year’s winner is David L. Thomas, MD, MPH, FIDSA. A leader in the field of viral hepatitis who strongly believes in the importance of fostering the next generation of ID clinicians and researchers, Dr. Thomas has nurtured the careers of numerous trainees with his skilled mentorship. He is the Stanhope Bayne Jones Professor of Medicine in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he also serves as chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, and is a professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. He has played a large role in mentoring many of the current ID leaders in the field of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, where his own important contributions have advanced our understanding of the disease’s epidemiology and natural history.
Forming training plans collaboratively with those he mentors based on their interests, Dr. Thomas has helped numerous trainees and junior faculty at his own institution and elsewhere achieve their goals by providing support, guidance, honest advice, and opportunities. His trainees have received more than $100 million in National Institutes of Health-funded awards and have authored more than 1,200 peer-reviewed publications in prestigious journals.
The Oswald Avery Award for Early Achievement recognizes outstanding achievement in infectious diseases by a member or fellow of IDSA who is 45 or younger. This year’s recipient is Nasia Safdar, MD, MS, PhD, FIDSA, FSHEA. Safdar uses multidisciplinary approaches, including human factors ergonomics, mathematical modeling, clinical trials, implementation science, and bench-based microbiome research to tackle C. difficile infection prevention comprehensively. Her transformative and innovative work has changed the paradigm for effective C. difficile prevention in many healthcare systems and has been incorporated into national guidelines.
An avid believer that research must be applied in real-world settings to have an impact on patient outcomes, Dr. Safdar has created a network of healthcare facilities that participate in the active adoption, evaluation, and dissemination of research findings. Her contributions to implementation science have resulted in greater adoption of evidence-based practices for infection prevention, narrowing the gap between evidence generation and practice. She is the recipient of a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers—the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers—and a National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award, given to highly creative investigators.
The Society Citation Award is given in recognition of exemplary contribution to IDSA, outstanding discovery in the field of infectious diseases, or a lifetime of outstanding achievement in a given area – whether research, clinical investigation or clinical practice. This year IDSA presents this award to two individuals: Steven K. Schmitt, MD, FIDSA and Brian S. Schwartz, MD.
Schmitt, staff physician in the Department of Infectious Disease at the Cleveland Clinic, has been a leading voice for the appropriate recognition of the value of the infectious diseases specialist. For more than a decade, Dr. Schmitt has represented IDSA and its members with several key advisory committees of the American Medical Association, including those that define reimbursement value for the healthcare delivered by ID clinicians, making effective representation crucial for the specialty. As chair of IDSA’s Value of ID Specialists Task Force, he led the group’s efforts resulting in two seminal publications in Clinical Infectious Diseases: The first, in 2014, reported data demonstrating the value of ID physician consultation in the care of hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries. The second, in 2019, provided similar data for privately insured patients under the age of 65. The two studies have formed the backbone of efforts to demonstrate the value of ID physicians to the systems where they practice.
Whether hearing him speak to fellows at IDSA’s Clinical Fellows Meeting, to lawmakers on Capitol Hill on behalf of members and patients, or at state, regional, and national meetings for invited lectures, Dr. Schmitt’s passionate advocacy for ID physicians and their value is readily apparent.
A collaborative innovator, Dr. Schwartz has played a leading role in driving IDSA’s efforts to support ID medical education and to develop it as an area of concentration. As increasing numbers of physicians seek careers in medical education and as the ID specialty works to attract applicants to the field, Dr. Schwartz’s efforts to enhance ID medical education have been particularly critical. He has been instrumental in the development of a robust medical education track that now runs throughout ID He has also led efforts to enhance preclinical microbiology education, an important opportunity to interest medical students in careers in ID.
A past member of IDSA’s Education Committee, Dr. Schwartz served as the founding chair of the Society’s Medical Education Work Group, and, with others, has been leading efforts to launch IDSA’s Medical Education Community of Practice, the organization’s first community of practice. The group will support IDSA members to become better teachers of all learner groups, and will support and advocate for the career development of clinician educators, with the end goal of helping to recruit the best and brightest to the field of ID. Dr. Schwartz is an associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
The Clinical Teacher Award honors a career dedicated to excellence in teaching fellows, residents or medical students, and motivating them to teach the next generation. This year the award goes to William L. Salzer, MD who, sadly, passed on Sunday, October 29. In his decades of service, Dr. Salzer became a legendary teacher and mentor to students, several of whom are now faculty members at his own institution, the University of Missouri School of Medicine. Passionate about patient care, physician training, medical education, community outreach, and mentorship, he contributed greatly to the patient-based learning curriculum as a case and exam writer; he did so since the curriculum, in which students collaboratively learn from real clinical cases, was introduced at the University of Missouri 25 years ago.
Arriving early to the office and among the last to leave each day, Dr. Salzer was readily available to answer student questions and to respond to pressing educational needs, including when expert lectures were needed on short notice. Listed among US News and World Report’s Best Doctors in America for 2009-2010, Dr. Salzer received more than 30 teaching awards during his career.
“On behalf of IDSA, I am truly honored to recognize each of these outstanding individuals and the contributions they have made to the field of infectious diseases. Each is an innovator, a mentor, and an inspiration. They have set a standard for future generations of infectious diseases physicians and scientists to which we all can aspire,” said Dr. Sears.
For full awards descriptions, recipient biographies and information about other awards given to Society members this year, please visit www.idsociety.org/societyawards.