Throughout a distinguished career, Sherris has been a tireless advocate for the profession of clinical microbiology. He was a driving force behind the development of standardized susceptibility testing, culminating in the standardized disk diffusion test, now known as the Kirby-Bauer or Bauer-Kirby test. His achievements are recognized internationally, through his years of service with the World Health Organization's Expert Advisory Panel on Biological Standardization and the International Collaborative Study on Antibiotic Sensitivity Testing. He also holds an honorary medical degree from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.
Another hallmark of Sherris's contributions to the profession is his leadership as an educator. As the first director of the University of Washington Hospital's clinical microbiology laboratories, Sherris, with colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, quickly moved to establish the first postdoctoral training programs in medical and public health laboratory microbiology in this country. These programs, recognized by the American College of Microbiology's Committee on Postgraduate Educational Programs, prepare clinical microbiologists and immunologists for work in laboratories, research, and industry. He has also been deeply involved in medical school teaching and curriculum development. One of his most enduring achievements is the highly regarded textbook Sherris Medical Microbiology, now in its fourth edition.
Sherris earned his medical degree and doctoral degree in pathology from the University of London, England. After gaining additional training and work experience, primarily in clinical microbiology, he joined the Department of Bacteriology at the University of Manchester in England. He was appointed to the University of Washington faculty in 1959.
A past president of ASM, Sherris was honored by the Society for his achievements as a clinical microbiologist when he became the first recipient of the BD Award for Research in Clinical Microbiology in 1978. The bioMérieux Sonnenwirth Award for Leadership in Clinical Microbiology followed in 1988. Sherris is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and of the Royal College of Pathologists in England. He has been an ABMM Diplomate since 1966.
The ABMM/ABMLI Professional Recognition Award will be presented at the 104th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), May 23–27, 2004, in New Orleans, Louisiana. ASM is the largest single life science society, composed of over 42,000 scientists, teachers, physicians, and health professionals. Its mission is to promote research and training in the microbiological sciences and to assist communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public to improve health, economic well-being, and the environment.