New Classes of Antimicrobials Committee Biographical Sketches
Christopher T. Walsh (Chair) is the Hamilton Kuhn Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology (BCMP) at Harvard Medical School. He has had extensive experience in academic administration, including Chairmanship of the MIT Chemistry Dept (1982-1987) and the HMS Biological Chemistry & Molecular Pharmacology Dept (1987-1995) as well as serving as President and CEO of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute (1992-1995). His research has focused on enzymes and enzyme inhibitors, with recent specialization on antibiotics. He and his group have authored over 600 research papers, books on Enzymatic Reaction Mechanisms (1979); Antibiotics: Origins, Actions, Resistance (2003); Posttranslational Modification of Proteins: Expanding Nature’s Inventory (2005). He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Philosophical Society.
He has been a consultant to government and academic institutions, including NIGMS, and a Trustee of the Whitehead Institute and the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation. He has been a consultant to large pharmaceuticals (Merck, Roche, and Abbot), and been involved in scientific advisory capacity for Genzyme, Immunogen, Leukosite, Kosan Biosciences, Millennium, Versicor, Transform Pharmaceuticals, Critical Therapeutics, and MPM capital. He sits on the Board of Directors of Critical Therapeutics, Kosan, Microbia, and Vicuron. At HMS he has recently served as co-chair of a committee to review the HMS Conflict of Interest policies. He is chair of the executive committee of the Harvard Integrated Life Sciences graduate programs.
Bonnie L. Bassler is a Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University. She received a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of California at Davis and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Johns Hopkins University. She performed postdoctoral work in Genetics at the Agouron Institute. She joined the Princeton faculty in 1994. Her research focuses on the molecular mechanisms that bacteria use for inter-cellular communication. This process is called quorum sensing. Bassler is the Director of Graduate Studies in the Molecular Biology Department, and she teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses. She was elected to the American Academy of Microbiology in 2002, and she was elected a fellow of AAAS in 2004. She was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2002, and she is the 2003 Theobald Smith Society Waksman Award recipient. Bassler received the New Jersey Thomas A. Edison Patent Award for Medical Technology in 2003 and the New York Intellectual Property Lawyer’s Association chose her as the 2004 Inventor of the Year. Bassler is an editor for Molecular Microbiology, and on the editorial boards of the Journal of Bacteriology, Genetics, and Molecular and Cellular Proteomics. She serves on many grant, fellowship, and award review panels.
Carl F. Nathan is Chairman, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and co-chairman, Graduate Program in Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University. He joined the faculty in 1985 as the Stanton Griffis Distinguished Professor of Medicine. Prior to his current appointment, he was the founding director of the Tri-Institutional M.D.-Ph.D. Program and served as Senior Associate Dean for Research and Acting Dean of Cornell University Medical College. He previously was on the faculty at the Rockefeller University. Dr. Nathan’s research furnished some of the first molecular explanations for macrophage activation and antimicrobial mechanisms of macrophages. He has made several fundamental discoveries about cytokine activation of macrophages, and determined that a major mechanism of host defense is expression of inducible nitric oxide (NO) synthase (iNOS). He holds an M.D. from Harvard Medical School. After training at Massachusetts General Hospital, the National Cancer Institute and Yale, he was board-certified in internal medicine and oncology.
Thomas F. O’Brien is Senior Physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Medical Director of the Microbiology Laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and Associate Professor
of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Following graduation from Harvard Medical School, Dr. O’Brien was a medical resident for two years at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston, a Harvard University Mosley Fellow for one year at Cambridge University, England, an active duty Captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps for two years, and a research fellow in the Department of Microbiology at Harvard Medical School for another two years before a final year as a senior medical resident at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. His dual role as clinician consulting on complicated infections and director of a laboratory identifying the microbes causing the infections and measuring their resistance to antibiotics prompted Dr. O’Brien to focus on the problems of antibiotic resistance and especially their molecular basis and epidemiology. This work led to the designation of his laboratory as World Health Organization Collaborating Center for the Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance and the development of software called WHONET, which now links laboratories in resistance surveillance networks in more than eighty countries.
Margaret Riley is a Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She received her Ph.D. in population genetics from Harvard University and performed postdoctoral research in microbial population genetics with a Sloan Postdoctoral Fellowship in Molecular Evolution. She joined the faculty at Yale in 1991 and recently moved to UMass Amherst. She has a broad set of research interests that range from studies of experimental evolution of microbes to developing novel antimicrobials and redefining the microbial species concept. Dr. Riley studies the evolution of microbial diversity, with a particular emphasis on the ecology and evolution of microbial toxins. Her recent work has revealed that the production of toxins is a primary force in the generation and maintenance of microbial diversity. These studies led to an interest in applying ecological and evolutionary theory to the design of novel antimicrobials for use in animal and human health. She is co-founder of Origin Antimicrobials, Inc., whose mission is to discover and refine novel antimicrobials to address the challenge of antibiotic resistance. Dr. Riley is the Director of the Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Program and the Director of the Museum of Natural History at UMass Amherst. From 1999-2002 she chaired the Gordon conference on molecular evolution and from 2003-2005 she chaired the Gordon conference on microbial population biology and evolution. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiologists.
Richard J. White is Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer at Vicuron Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company specializing in antimicrobial agents. For the last thirty years he has worked in pharmaceutical research, specializing in infectious diseases and natural products-based drug discovery. His research was carried out at Glaxo, Lederle and Bristol Myers Squibb in positions of increasing responsibility. He was Vice President for Infectious Disease Drug Discovery at Bristol Myers Squibb for twelve years and was involved in the discovery and development of cefepime and cefprozil. He has published more than 60 research papers, most of which are on the discovery, mechanism of action, mechanism of resistance, and biosynthesis of antibiotics. Dr. White has been on the editorial board of the Journal of Antibiotics for 15 years. He obtained an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology and a Ph.D.in Microbial Biochemistry from the University of Oxford in 1966.
Gerard D. Wright is Professor and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, and the Director of the McMaster Antimicrobial Research Centre. He received his B.Sc. in Biochemistry (1986) and his Ph.D. in Chemistry (1990) from the University of Waterloo. He followed this up with 2 years of postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School in Boston and joined the Department of Biochemistry at McMaster in 1993. He holds a Canada Research Chair in Antibiotic Biochemistry and has received Canadian Institutes of Health Research Scientist (2000-2005) and Medical Research Council of Canada Scholar (1995-2000), Premiers’ Research Excellence (1999) and Polanyi Prize (1993) awards. He is a member of the Canadian Bacterial Diseases Network Centre of Excellence and the Director of the American Chemical Society Short Course on Antibiotics and Antibacterial Agents. Dr. Wright is co-founder, with Dr. Eric Brown, of the McMaster High Throughput Screening Facility.
Dr. Wright’s laboratory conducts research on the molecular mechanisms of antibiotic resistance including resistance to aminoglycoside, glycopeptide and streptogramin families of antibiotics, on the mechanisms of antibiotic biosynthesis, and on the discovery of new antimicrobial targets, in particular antifungal agents. He is the author of over 90 published papers and book chapters.