Professor Stanley Falkow – 1934-2018 – father of molecular microbial pathogenesis

It is with sadness that we share the news that Professor Stanley Falkow of Stanford University School of Medicine, esteemed member of the editorial committee for the Annual Review of Microbiology, co-author of three review articles and an autobiographical article,  passed away (5th May 2018) at the age of 84.

Those of us who didn’t know Professor Falkow can get a vivid impression of him by reading his autobiographical article entitled: The Fortunate Professor. The title makes it clear that this was a man with an abundance of gratitude. The abstract of his article says simply:

My professional life can be summarized by a quote from the Talmud.

Much have I learned from my teachers,

More from my colleagues,

But most from my students.

It is the fortunate professor who learns from the student.

All of us at Annual Reviews feel equally fortunate to have Professor Falkow play a part in the success of our organization. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends, co-workers and of course his students, from whom he learned so much.

MacArthur Fellows, Class of 2016

Our warmest congratulations to the 23 people honored this year by the MacArthur Foundation for “breaking new ground in areas of public concern, in the arts, and in the sciences, often in unexpected ways.”

Among them is Dianne K. Newman, a Microbiologist at the California Institute of Technology and of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She is also an Editorial Committee Member of the Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences.

Dianne Newman
Dianne Newman, 2016 MacArthur Fellow, Caltech, Pasadena, CA, 09.08.2016.

Dr. Newman’s research in microbiology spans across disciplines, from geobiology to biomedicine: she and her group study bacteria that thrive in low-oxygen environments, such as bacteria that “breathe” arsenic or iron, as was the case in Earth’s early atmosphere. This work has taken them to study the metabolism of Pseudonoma aeruginosa, an opportunistic bacterium that thrives in mucus-filled lungs where oxygen is limited, such as those of cystic fibrosis patients. This could open the door to more effective treatment of these infections. Browse the articles she wrote for Annual Reviews here.

Another 2016 MacArthur Fellow is Bioengineer Rebecca Richards-Kortum, of Rice University.

Rebecca Richards-Kortum
Rebecca Richards-Kortum, 2016 MacArthur Fellow, BioScience Research Collaborative at Rice University, Houston, August 31, 2016.

Dr. Richards-Kortum and her students create cheap and effective solutions that seek to redress imbalances in access to health care across the world. Their products have helped overcome challenges in the diagnosis of various types of cancers, but also for the care of premature newborns or babies with jaundice. Read her article for the Annual Review of Physical Chemistry here.

Photo credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

2016 Lasker Awards

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Lasker awards.

1. Basic Medical Research Award:

William G. Kaelin, of Dana Farber-Harvard Cancer Center.

Gregg L. Semenza, of Johns Hopkins University.

They helped identify how all animals react to variations in oxygen. They share the award with Peter J. Ratcliffe, of Oxford University. Click on their names to read the articles they wrote for various Annual Reviews journals.

2. Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award:

Charles M. Rice, of Rockefeller University.

He shares the award with Ralf  F. W. Bartenschlager, of the University of Heidelberg, and Michael J. Sofia, of Arbutus Biopharma. Drs. Rice and Bartenschlager were able to find a way to make the Hepatitis C virus replicate in laboratory conditions, which allowed research to proceed. Dr. Sofia then developed a drug that made it possible to treat the disease.  Click on Dr. Rice’s name to browse the articles he wrote for various Annual Reviews journals.

3. Lasker-Koshland Award for Special Achievement in Medical Science:

Bruce M. Alberts, of the University of California, San Francisco.

He was recognized for his work in molecular biology and his efforts toward science education. Click on his name to browse the articles he wrote for the Annual Review of Biochemistry.

Our Microbial Partners

Congratulations to Ed Yong on his new book, I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, in which he explores the microbes that live and multiply all over humans and other animals, helping us thrive and shaping our behavior.

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While our view of microbes is still heavily skewed by the germ theory of disease, which paints them solely as pathogens, recent research has shown that an estimated 50% of the cells we carry around are microbial in nature, and only a fraction of these actually make us ill.

In fact, each animal is an ecosystem and our individual microbiomes play an essential role in keeping us healthy. They help us evolve, break down nutrients from the food we eat so we can better assimilate them, teach our immune system how to defend us from disease, and favor brain development, among other things. Scientists even found that germ-free mice exhibited autism-like behavior, and that probiotic therapies can have positive effects on depression and anxiety.

Yong cited seven of our articles in his book, all of which you can access for free for the next 30 days

The Influence of Milk Oligosaccharides on Microbiota of Infants: Opportunities for FormulasAnnual Review of Food Science and Technology
Biofilms and Marine Invertebrate Larvae: What Bacteria Produce That Larvae Use to Choose Settlement SitesAnnual Review of Marine Science
The Microbiome in Infectious Disease and InflammationAnnual Review of Immunology
Ecological Physiology of Diet and Digestive SystemsAnnual Review of Physiology
Vaginal Microbiome: Rethinking Health and DiseaseAnnual Review of Microbiology
Human Milk Glycans Protect Infants Against Enteric PathogensAnnual Review of Nutrition
The Human Gut Microbiome: Ecology and Recent Evolutionary ChangeAnnual Review of Microbiology

For more, listen to Yong discussing his book with Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross on August 18, 2016.