The American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) has elected a physician scientist from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School into its prestigious membership. Dr. Cesar Arias, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases UTHealth Medical School, was given the honor of joining this society of more than 3,000 physician scientists (those who hold both MDs & PhDs).
Membership is granted to physicians who have made major contributions to the medical sciences. Dr. Arias fits this criteria, as he is pursuing research on the prevention and treatment of antibiotic resistant superbugs such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and has made great strides in advancing treatment options for these devastating infections.
When previously asked about the many important contributions Dr. Arias has already made in such an early stage of his career, Dr. Herbert DuPont, M.D., past president of the IDSA and director of the Center for Infectious Diseases at The University of Texas School of Public Health, holder of the Mary W. Kelsey Chair in the Medical Sciences at the UTHealth Medical School, said, “Dr. Arias received the top award for early achievement by a clinician scientist in infectious diseases in the United States. Dr. Arias’ imaginative research focuses on antibiotic resistance that causes countless suffering and death, and costs our country more than $30 billion each year. His research is global and the impressive center he established in Colombia adds to his important contributions to the field and furthers international medical knowledge on antibiotic resistance recognizing the worldwide movement of disease-causing microbes.”
The laboratory he is referring to is the Molecular Genetics and Antimicrobial Resistance Unit at Universidad El Bosque in Bogota, Colombia. Dr. Arias founded the lab in 2000 and supports the research conducted there with a British Wellcome Trust grant. The lab is a major surveillance center for resistance pathogens in South America.
In a press release about the induction, Dr. Arias’s Supervisor, Dr. Barbara Murray MD, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases, Center for Emerging and Re-emerging Pathogens, and holder of the J. Ralph Meadows Professorship in Internal Medicine, stated: “Cesar A. Arias is an internationally known physician-scientist, whose major contributions involve recognizing and characterizing novel aspects of antibiotic resistance in Gram-positive pathogens, particularly in the areas of molecular epidemiology and mechanisms of bacterial multidrug-resistance. Examples include his innovative work on resistance to daptomycin, the drug of last resort for enterococci, and on vancomycin resistance in a community clone of staphylococci. He has also been pivotal in promoting antimicrobial resistance research in developing countries.”
Dr. Arias earned his medical degree from the Universidad El Bosque, Bogota, Colombia in 1992, an MSc in clinical microbiology from the University of London in 1996, and his PhD in molecular biology and biochemistry from The University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom in 2000. He completed both his residency and infectious disease fellowship at UTHealth Medical School and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is a staff physician at both Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and Harris Health Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital.
The ASCI represents active physician-scientists who are at the bedside, the research bench and the blackboard. Many of its senior members are widely recognized leaders in academic medicine.
It is dedicated to the advancement of research that extends our understanding and improves the treatment of human diseases, and members are committed to mentoring future generations of physician-scientists. The ASCI considers the nominations of several hundred physician-scientists submitted from among its members each year and elects up to 80 new members annually for their significant research accomplishments. Because members must be 50 years of age or younger at the time of their election, membership reflects accomplishments by its members relatively early in their careers.