RICHMOND, Va. (Aug. 5, 2009) - An internationally recognized Virginia Commonwealth University physician has been named a recipient of the 2010 Maxwell Finland Award for his pioneering contributions that have advanced the understanding of infectious diseases, joining an esteemed group of past recipients who have made a remarkable impact on clinical practice, public health and research.
The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases awarded the honor to Richard P. Wenzel, M.D., an internationally known expert on infectious disease and chair of internal medicine at the VCU School of Medicine. Some past recipients include C. Everett Koop, M.D., (1988), a pediatric surgeon who invented techniques used in infant surgery, and the 13th Surgeon General of the United States; Joshua Lederberg, Ph.D., (1997), a molecular biologist who received the 1958 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for discovering that bacteria mate and exchange genes; and Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., (1992), an internationally renowned cardiac surgeon.
Wenzel has contributed significantly to clinical practice, research and helped train future leaders. As a leader in the field of infectious diseases, Wenzel has helped shape guidelines on prevention and control of hospital-acquired infections that have had positive impact on public health, and a national expert on antibiotic resistance and its impact, according to the foundation.
A 2004 editorial Wenzel wrote for the New England Journal of Medicine called for scientists, the federal government and the pharmaceutical industry to work together quickly to solve the growing crisis of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
"Richard Wenzel is a true pioneer in the field and a dedicated physician, researcher and teacher. Even more, he has acted with the best interest of young and old alike as a health advocate protecting patients from infectious diseases. His efforts have translated to improved standards in the prevention and control of infection in a hospital-setting," said Jerome F. Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the VCU School of Medicine.
Wenzel, past-president of the International Society for Infectious Diseases, is the author of "Stalking Microbes: A Relentless Pursuit of Infection Control." He is the first editor-at-large of the New England Journal of Medicine and was among the leading commentators on swine flu and the SARS outbreak. He was at the forefront of the national debate on smallpox vaccination.
His research focuses on the epidemiology of hospital-acquired infections and clinical trials of antisepsis scrub agents to treat or prevent infections caused by antibiotic resistant pathogens.
In 2008, Wenzel helped implement a professional development program for 77 women healthcare workers from Africa, Asia and the Asian sub-continent. The program provided an opportunity for women with careers in medicine, nursing, public health and infectious diseases to network with leaders and experts of International Society for Infectious Diseases, gather information and apply the new knowledge to improve the standard of care for women with infectious diseases in their home countries.
In many developing nations, there is a critical need to boost the global shortage of physicians and improve patient care - especially for women suffering from various infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, drug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria and others.
Wenzel is a frequently sought editorialist for leading medical journals because of his vision of the field, critical appraisal of data and clear writing style. He is the editor of five textbooks and more than 450 scientific articles and has received several awards for research and teaching. He has received numerous awards for research and teaching. Wenzel was named chairman of VCU's Department of Internal Medicine in 1995.
The Maxwell Finland Award for Scientific Achievement recognizes scientists who have made 'outstanding contributions to the understanding of infectious diseases or public health.' The award is named for Maxwell Finland, M.D., a distinguished scholar and scientist who pioneered work in epidemiology and antimicrobial resistance, and helped 'define the discipline of infectious diseases as we know it today.'
Wenzel will be presented with the award at a ceremony next year in Washington, D.C.
The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases is a national, non-profit foundation established in 1973, dedicated to educating the public and health care professionals about the causes, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases.