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Peggy Lillis Foundation honors Dr. Sherwood Gorbach for career combating C. diff infection

BROOKLYN, NY October 17, 2011 The Peggy Lillis Memorial Foundation will present Sherwood Gorbach, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Vice President of Optimer Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Distinguished Professor (Emeritus) of Public Health and Medicine at Tufts University, with an achievement award to recognize his nearly four decades of visionary research and pursuit of new treatments for Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) a bacterial infection in the lining of the gut that can cause severe diarrhea, inflammation of the colon and in some cases death. Dr. Gorbach's achievement will be recognized at the Foundation's annual benefit, "FIGHT C. diff," on October 22 in Brooklyn, NY. The event brings together a celebration of the life and legacy of Peggy Lillis and Dr. Gorbach's 40 years of pioneering research, with the shared goal of generating increased C. diff awareness and prevention measures.

"It is our great pleasure to recognize Dr. Gorbach for his longstanding commitment to infectious disease research and contributions to the fight against Clostridium difficile infection," said Christian Lillis, Co-founder and Director of the Peggy Lillis Memorial Foundation. "Dr. Gorbach and the Peggy Lillis Memorial Foundation have a shared goal to increase prevention and minimize death and disability resulting from C. diff. We are thrilled to honor Dr. Gorbach for his lifetime commitment to helping patients and look forward to continuing our efforts to raise awareness about this disease."

As a young infectious disease researcher in 1973, Dr. Gorbach's interest was aroused by the first report from New Zealand of several severe cases of diarrhea and bowel inflammation in patients who had become ill following treatment with an antibiotic. Five years later at Tufts University, he and fellow infectious disease researchers identified Clostridium difficile bacteria as the cause of the outbreak, a discovery that paved the way for his continued pursuit to find treatments for the infection. Most recently, he contributed his expertise to Optimer in its development and FDA approval of DIFICID (fidaxomicin) tablets, the first FDA-approved therapy in more than 25 years for the treatment of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD) in adult patients.

"I am honored and humbled to receive this award from the Peggy Lillis Memorial Foundation," said Dr. Gorbach. "I would like to commend the Foundation for its efforts to bring awareness to C. difficile, including the physical and emotional burdens of the disease. The tragic case of Peggy Lillis illustrates why more must be done to combat this disease, and why I have dedicated much of my career to pursuing new treatment options for C. difficile."

The Peggy Lillis Memorial Foundation was created in memory of Brooklyn kindergarten teacher Peggy Lillis, who lost her life to a C. diff infection in April 2010. She only was ill for six days. The Foundation is the first national organization dedicated to reducing and eradicating Clostridium difficile infections, or CDIs, through education and advocacy.

CDIs have become a significant medical problem in hospitals, long-term care facilities and in the community. The incidence and severity of CDI has increased dramatically in the U.S. over the past decade and is continuing to rise each year, with current estimates suggesting it may affect more than 700,000 people annually, though the incidence may be higher as many cases are believed to be undiagnosed, untreated and underreported. CDI is a serious illness resulting from infection of the inner lining of the colon by C. difficile bacteria, which produce toxins that cause inflammation of the colon, severe diarrhea and, in the most serious cases, death. One of the most common symptoms of CDI is Clostridium-difficile associated diarrhea (CDAD).

Dr. Gorbach has served as Optimer's Senior Vice President, Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer since November 2005 and was recently promoted to Senior Vice President, Research and Development and Chief Scientific Officer in February 2011. In addition to serving on the faculties of Johns Hopkins, University of Illinois and UCLA, Dr. Gorbach has been at Tufts University School of Medicine since 1975 as, among other things, Professor of Medicine, Public Health and Community Health and a Professor in the School of Nutrition and Social Policy. Dr. Gorbach was also Chief of Infectious Diseases at New England Medical Center from 1975 to 1987. In 1990, he served as the President of the Massachusetts Infectious Diseases Society, and in 1995, he was the President of the Society of Microbial Ecology and Disease.

Dr. Gorbach received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Recognition of Exemplary Dedication and Leadership at the 3rd Congress on Anaerobic Bacteria and Infections held in Glasgow, Scotland in 2003. He was presented the Alexander Fleming Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2007 by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. In 2008, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Anaerobe Society of the Americas, and in 2009, he received the Tufts University Alumni Association distinguished Service Award. He has served as editor of Clinical Infectious Diseases for the past ten years. Dr. Gorbach received his M.D. at the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston.


Contact: Brittany Yurick
Edelman Public Relations

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