Andres Vazquez-Torres honored with 2004 Merck Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award

04/30/04

WASHINGTON, DC--APRIL 23, 2004--Andres Vazquez-Torres, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Microbiology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center (UCHSC), Denver, will receive the 2004 Merck Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award from the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). Supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Merck Research Laboratories, Inc., two Sigal Awards are presented for excellence in basic research in medical microbiology and infectious disease. The awards are given in memory of Irving S. Sigal, who was instrumental in the early discovery of therapies to treat human immunodeficiency virus/AIDS.

Although still in the early stages of his career as a researcher and teacher, Vazquez-Torres is already well known as a leader in studying how Candida and Salmonella cause disease, and how a host tries to fight off infections by these important pathogens. While completing his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin, he worked on host-parasite interactions in mucosal and systemic candidiasis. He and his colleagues published several articles on the interactions between Candida albicans and macrophages (cells that help the body fight infection). Their research detailed the ways in which nitric oxide contributes to resistance to candidiasis and the effects of peroxynitrite on the ability of macrophages kill off Candida.

At present, Vazquez-Torres is studying the mechanisms of Salmonella infection and Salmonella's response to defenses mounted by the infected host. He found that one species, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, can even deflect the movement of phagocytes and other structures in the body that emit chemicals designed to help immobilize the infection. In another facet of his research, Vazquez-Torres discovered a new pathway by which cells in the affected host are able to "sample" the intestinal lumen, migrate to the spleen, and trigger a systemic immune responses to microbes that these cells have encountered in the gut.

Vazquez-Torres received his D.V.M. degree from the University of Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in immunology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in infectious diseases at UCHSC. Since joining the UCHSC faculty in 2001, he has won an award for Excellence in Teaching and has received a prestigious Schweppe Foundation Career Development Award.

The Merck Irving S. Sigal Memorial Awards 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.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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