PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Oct. 18, 2012 -- Dr. Paul Keim, Director of the Pathogen Genomics Division of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the Cowden Endowed Chair of Microbiology at Northern Arizona University (NAU), will receive the 2012 Bioscience Researcher of the Year award from the Arizona BioIndustry Association (AZBio).
"Dr. Keim was nominated by members of the Arizona Bioscience Community and selected by an independent, statewide panel of leaders for this recognition of his research and innovation in the field of pathogen genomics and microbiology," said AZBio President and CEO Joan Koerber-Walker.
His award will be presented at the 7th annual AZBio Awards on Oct. 23 at the Phoenix Convention Center. An industry showcase and student discovery session are scheduled from 3-5:30 p.m., and the awards gala is from 6-9 p.m.
"AZBio's recognition of Dr. Keim is extraordinarily well deserved," said TGen President and Scientific Director Dr. Jeffrey Trent. "Paul's unique achievements in interpreting the microbial genomes of pathogens -- both those that naturally cause disease, but also those made into weapons by terrorists -- are of profound importance. His research, coupled to his dedications to his students and to the cause of public health globally, place him in the upper echelon of premier scientists, and puts Arizona on the map in this critical growing area of research."
Dr. Keim is a world-renowned expert in anthrax and other infectious diseases. At TGen and NAU he directs investigations into how to bolster the nation's biodefense, and to prevent outbreaks -- even pandemics -- of such contagions as flu, cholera, E. coli, salmonella, and even the plague.
"Our science has been completely transformed by the rapid advancements of technology. Now, TGen's job is to rapidly advance our science to make great impacts on human health. We have that ability, therefore, we feel that we have that responsibility," said Dr. Keim, a Professor at TGen and Regents Professor of Microbiology at NAU.
Dr. Keim also is Director of NAU's Microbial Genetics & Genomics Center, a program that works with numerous government agencies to help thwart bioterrorism and the spread of pathogen-caused diseases.
Since 2004, he has been a member of the federal government's National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB). He helped draft national guidelines for blunting bioterrorism while elevating ethical standards and improving the quality of scientific research. Dr. Keim's work at the NSABB includes recently serving two years as the acting Chair.
While TGen this year celebrates a decade of progress, TGen's Pathogen Genomics Division, also known as TGen North in Flagstaff, is celebrating five years of protecting human health though genomic investigations of some of humankind's most deadly microbes.
"Paul Keim's work ranges broadly -- from plague in prairie dogs, to cholera in Haiti," said NAU Provost Laura Huenneke. "Here at NAU, literally hundreds of students, both undergraduate and graduate, have participated in that research and launched from there into successful careers. His research group has also grown into the strong partnership between the university and TGen North -- a huge economic development dividend for Flagstaff.''
With the recent completion of its Phase III expansion in the Flagstaff Airport Business Park, TGen North now covers 11,000 square feet, 2.5 times as big as when it opened in 2007.
Besides its Biosafety Level 1 and 2 laboratories for handling pathogens and conducting molecular epidemiologic and forensic analysis of infectious agents, TGen North also has access to the extensive Biosafety Level 3 facilities on the nearby NAU campus, and the comprehensive genomic research facilities of TGen's headquarters in Phoenix.
Dr. Keim's lab was involved in the investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks. Anthrax samples from the U.S. House and Senate buildings were rushed under heavy guard to Dr. Keim's laboratory for analysis. At the time, the FBI didn't have a biosafety Level 3 lab. Dr. Keim's lab became the major repository for anthrax samples gathered for comparison by the FBI from across the globe.
TGen North collaborates with local, national and international universities, biotech companies, security agencies, health care providers, public health departments and other institutions in its quest to protect human health.
TGen North's newly developed tests include: rapid detection assays for MRSA (a drug-resistant form of Staph that kills more Americans than HIV); highly virulent strains of E. coli; and Valley Fever, an important cause of pneumonia and neurological diseases in the Southwest. Other TGen tests can detect antiviral resistance in new influenza strains, and antibiotic resistance in a large number of strains of hospital bacteria.
AZBio - The Arizona BioIndustry Association - is comprised of member organizations in business, research, government, and other professions involved in biosciences. AZBio supports the members of the Arizona bioscience community by providing access to the key resources, connections, and information that support their ability to Connect, Collaborate, Innovate and Succeed thus supporting the growth of a thriving economic ecosystem for Arizona's Bioscience Industry.
The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes. TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research where investigators are able to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities, TGen believes it can make a substantial contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. For more information, visit: www.tgen.org.
TGen Senior Science Writer
NAU Office of Public Affairs