[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 13-Sep-2011
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Contact: Garth Hogan
ghogan@asmusa.org
American Society for Microbiology

The American Society for Microbiology honors Benjamin P. Howden

Benjamin P. Howden, Ph.D., Austin Health, Melbourne, Australia, has been chosen by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) to receive a 2011 ICAAC Young Investigator Award. Sponsored by the ASM, this award recognizes an early career scientist for research excellence in microbiology and infectious diseases.

Dr. Howden is an Infectious Diseases Physician and Medical Microbiologist at Austin Health, a leading tertiary hospital in Melbourne, Australia, and Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Melbourne. His nominator, M. Lindsay Grayson of Austin Health, calls Dr. Howden "an outstanding infectious diseases physician and microbiologist whose key research focus has been the pathogenesis of serious bacterial infections, particularly Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant Entercoccus faecium (VRE)."

Dr. Howden obtained his M.B.B.S. in 1993 from Monash University, and subsequently completed training as an Infectious Diseases Physician (as a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians) and Medical Microbiologist (as a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia). During his doctoral studies at Monash University, Dr. Howden used new comparative and functional genomics approaches to understand in vivo evolution of S. aureus during persistent infection, with a focus on antimicrobial resistance mechanisms. These studies have led to new insights into the molecular basis of vancomycin-intermediate S. aureus (VISA), and have revealed a novel mechanism of reduced linezolid susceptibility in S. aureus.

His most recent research, based on the results of large-scale comparative genomics, has uncovered an important link between antimicrobial resistance and virulence in S. aureus. He is one of the leaders of an integrated bacterial research program based in the Austin Centre for Infection Research (ACIR) at Austin Health, a program focused on investigating the clinical and molecular aspects of virulence and antimicrobial resistance of the human bacterial pathogens S. aureus and E. faecium.

"Dr. Howden has been extraordinarily productive, and has made major contributions to our understanding of the genetic basis of this phenomenon," says a supporter of his nomination, John Turnidge of Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide, South Australia. With 45 peer reviewed publications that have attracted over 700 citations, Dr. Howden is using his position as an active physician and medical microbiologist to develop a sophisticated clinical and molecular research program that is addressing some of the most pressing issues in human infectious diseases medicine. The second supporter of his nomination, Roy Robins-Browne of The University of Melbourne, expands on Dr. Howden's accomplishments: "he has already received a number of prestigious awards for his professional achievements from such bodies as the Premier of the State of Victoria, Australia, The Royal Australasian College of Physicians, ICAAC, The Australian Society for Antimicrobials (which recently appointed Dr Howden as its vice president), and the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine."

"Without question, Dr. Howden is one of the rising stars in infectious diseases research—both nationally and internationally," summarizes Dr. Grayson.

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The ICAAC Young Investigator Award will be presented during ASM's 51st Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC), September 17-20, 2011 in Chicago, IL. ASM is the world's oldest and largest life science organization and has more than 40,000 members worldwide. ASM's mission is to advance the microbiological sciences and promote the use of scientific knowledge for improved health, economic, and environmental well-being.



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