American Society for Microbiology honors Miriam Barlow

March 11, 2010

The 2010 American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics Young Investigator Award is being presented to Miriam Barlow, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of California, Merced, for her work on antimicrobial resistance. This award recognizes outstanding laboratory research in clinical microbiology or antimicrobial agents. Barlow's research spans the fields of microbiology, molecular biology, evolution, population biology, biochemistry, chemistry, and clinical microbiology. She received her Ph.D. and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Rochester, NY. Her thesis focused on developing and applying an entirely novel experimental method for predicting the natural evolution of antibiotic resistance genes. Her interest in evolution led her to use phylogenetic approaches to study antibiotic resistance. She worked with thesis advisor, Barry G. Hall, Ph.D., and amassed a large volume of work on how beta-lactamase resistance genes evolved. Her first paper showed that some pre-antibiotic era strains of C. freundii were antibiotic sensitive and carried functional, yet silent, resistance genes in their chromosomes. Barlow went on to show that these antibiotic resistance genes were a threat and with Hall and colleagues developed tools that could screen for and isolate novel cryptic resistance genes. A patent was awarded for this method. Currently, Barlow is using micro-calorimetry to rapidly assess antibiotic resistance in infection and has been able to distinguish antibiotic-resistant from antibiotic-sensitive pathogens. Her research also showed that different pathogens have unique signals which make it possible to identify the organisms. She is developing differential scanning calorimetry and isothermal titrative calorimetry as methods for identifying clinical isolates and characterizing their resistance phenotypes. Her approach could reduce the assays time from three days to three hours which is critical in treatment of many antibiotic-resistant infections.
The Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics Young Investigator Award will be presented during the 110th General Meeting of the ASM, May 23-27, 2010 in San Diego, CA. ASM is the world's oldest and largest life science organization and has more than 43,000 members worldwide. ASM's mission is to advance the microbiological sciences and promote the use of scientific knowledge for improved health and economic and environmental well-being.

American Society for Microbiology

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