Tufts University's Andrew Camilli named Howard Hughes Medical Investigator


Third Tufts scientist in infectious diseases to be selected for award

BOSTON, MA -- Embargoed until March 21, 2005, 5:00 p.m. ET -- Andrew Camilli, PhD, associate professor of molecular biology and microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine, was named one of 43 new Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigators today. The HHMI appointment awards Dr. Camilli with unrestricted funds to further his research work at Tufts University. He is the third HHMI investigator in infectious diseases at Tufts University to be appointed by the Institute.

Dr. Camilli's work focuses on how cholera bacteria and pneumonia bacteria gain virulence in the human body. He was a pioneer in the development of methods to determine how bacteria act within an infected host and is working to understand more about how bacteria behave and regulate their gene expression within the body. He, along with his team, are recognized for discovering that the bacterium that cause cholera gain momentum and strength while passing through the digestive tract, potentially solving a long-standing medical mystery on the virulence of the disease.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute appoints new investigators approximately every three years through a national competition. The 43 new scientists will join 298 current HHMI investigators at more than 60 institutions around the country.

"I'm working to understand the basic mechanisms of how bacterial pathogens cause disease. If we can understand how pathogens travel and present themselves within the body, we are a step closer to the development of more effective vaccines and antibiotics," said Camilli. "Diarrheal diseases and pneumonia are worldwide threats and these two bacterial pathogens are emblematic of numerous other pathogens. Unraveling these mysteries may help to understand other pathogens in addition to bringing us closer to controlling cholera and pneumonia."

"One of the biggest challenges facing medicine here and around the world is better understanding and treatment of infectious diseases," said Michael Rosenblatt, dean of the Tufts University School of Medicine. "Dr. Camilli, and his colleagues in the department of molecular biology and microbiology at the Sackler School of Graduate Medical Sciences at the School of Medicine at Tufts have distinguished themselves in this critical work and we are honored to be recognized by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute." Dr. Camilli's research contributes to the body of knowledge that will help eradicate or fully control diseases that plague us."

Ralph Isberg, PhD, and Matthew Waldor, MD, PhD, both faculty members at the Tufts University School of Medicine in the department of molecular biology and microbiology, are also HHMI investigators in the field of infectious diseases. Dr. Isberg's research focuses on how bacteria enter and grow within cells, while Dr. Waldor's work investigates the evolution of bacterial pathogens.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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