The Threat of Superbugs – Robert A. Weinstein, Robert S. Daum, Scott Franzblau, and Michael Federle

Tuesday, April 28, 2015 at Northwestern Baldwin Auditorium

Infectious disease has been a big problem for living things since long before there were humans. Humans have used various medicines for thousands of years to reduce the impact of infectious disease, but the development of antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs over the last 100 years has been one of the greatest advancements in medicine. These drugs have saved countless lives from otherwise fatal infections. Unfortunately, this good news doesn’t last.

Disease-causing organisms across the world are evolving resistance to the drugs we use to fight them. Malaria, tuberculosis and HIV are three of the deadliest diseases in the world – all of them have evolved drug-resistant strains. Here in Chicago, MRSA and other drug-resistant bacteria are on the rise in the community and in hospitals. Coping with these new “superbugs” is a problem the world is currently facing, and this problem continues to worsen. This program, featuring experts on infectious disease, will cover the current state of this crisis, the causes, and possible solutions in development.

Robert A. Weinstein, M.D. is a Professor of Medicine at Rush University Medical College, as well as the former System Chair and Department Chair of Medicine for the Cook County Health and Hospitals System, and Founding Chief Operating Officer of the Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center for the Prevention, Care, and Research of Infectious Diseases. His clinical and research interests focus on healthcare-acquired infections, particularly those that are resistant to antibiotics. Since 1998, he has worked in collaboration with the CDC, most recently as Principal Investigator for the Chicago Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Prevention Epicenter (C-PIE). He earned his medical degree at Cornell University Medical College.

Robert S. Daum, M.D. is a nationally and internationally known expert in Pediatric Infectious Diseases. In the last 10 years, Dr. Daum has turned his attention to molecular mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance in Staphylococcus aureus. More recently, an epidemic of community-acquired methicillin resistance in Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains circulating in the Chicago area, and, now many locales across the United States and elsewhere in the world has caught the attention of the laboratory. Dr. Daum has been a reviewer for more than a dozen clinical and scientific journals. He is frequently asked by the NIH and CDC and other agencies to serve on grant review panels related to bacterial infections in children, vaccine delivery and bacterial pathogenesis. Dr. Daum earned his medical degree at McGill University.

Scott Franzblau, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognocy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Director of the Institute for Tuberculosis Research. Originally focusing on leprosy, Dr. Franzblau has been studying tuberculosis for over 20 years. His work involves creating new treatments for tuberculosis, some of which are currently in clinical trials. As part of his research, he collaborates with pharmaceutical companies on developing and testing new drugs. Dr. Franzblau has a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Arizona.

Michael Federle, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry. His work investigates chemical communication pathways among bacteria, a process known as quorum sensing, and how microbial social behaviors contribute to health and disease. A long-term goal of the Federle laboratory is to develop methodologies that disrupt bacterial communication and manipulate microbial behavior with the intention of improving health outcomes following bacterial infections. Dr. Federle’s research is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, and the Chicago Biomedical Consortium. He earned his Ph.D. degree from Emory University and trained at Princeton University before joining UIC in 2008.

Cristal Thomas, M.P.P. is Vice President for Community Health Engagement at the University of Chicago Medical Center and Senior Advisor to the Vice President for Civic Engagement at the University of Chicago. Prior to her appointment as Deputy Governor, Cristal served as Region V Director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Cristal has a Bachelor of Science in molecular genetics from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio and a Master’s degree in Public Policy Studies from the University of Chicago. She will moderate this program.

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