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The American Society for Microbiology honors Jörn Coers

Jrn Coers, Ph.D., Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, is honored by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) to receive a 2011 ICAAC Young Investigator Award for his work studying the molecular and genetic determinants that enable mammalian host cells to mount immune responses against intracellular pathogens. Sponsored by Merck, U.S. Human Health Division, this award recognizes an early career scientist for research excellence in microbiology and infectious diseases. Dr. Coers' nominator, Michael Starnbach of Harvard Medical School, describes him as "an accomplished and extraordinarily creative scientist who is certain to become a star in the field of pathogenesis."

Dr. Coers received his M.Sc. in Biology from the University of Konstanz, Germany. While enrolled at the University of Konstanz, Dr. Coers spent two and half years in Craig Roy's laboratory at SUNY Stony Brook and later at Yale University, studying how the bacterial pathogen Legionella pneumophila survives and replicates inside macrophages. Dr. Roy, a supporter of the nomination and American Academy of Microbiology Fellownow at Yale Universitysays he is "confident that Dr. Coers will continue to break new ground in understanding host pathogen interactions, and will emerge as a leader in his field." Dr. Coers then continued to the University of Basel, Switzerland for his doctoral training in the laboratory of Radek Skoda, where he employed transgenic mouse models to study the role of cytokine signaling in myeloproliferative diseases.

Dr. Coers returned to the topic of host-pathogen interactions for his postdoctoral training, applying his knowledge of mouse genetics to the study of infectious disease in the labs of Dr. Starnbach and Bill Dietrich at Harvard Medical School. The project, a collaborative venture between these two laboratories, was to map and identify mammalian genes responsible for susceptibility to Chlamydia trachomatis infection. It was here that his work caught the attention of his nominator, who was "amazed that Dr. Coers and the other team members were able to narrow the search down to two proteins, Irgb10 and Irgm3 (Igtp)both members of the gamma inducible GTPases known as IRGs."

In 2010, Dr. Coers became Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Duke University Medical Center. Research in his independent laboratory focuses on interferon-induced host defense mechanisms targeting intracellular bacterial pathogens and host-pathogen-microbiota interactions that shape the outcome of genital infections with Chlamydia trachomatis.

Another supporter of the nomination, Raphael Valdivia of Duke University, explains that Dr. Coers' studies have "revealed key insights into the host-pathogen interactions underlying diseases caused by Chlamydiathe leading causes of infectious blindness and sexually transmitted infections of significant clinical and public health importance." His research has been published in high-impact journals including Nature Cell Biology, PNAS, Blood and PLoS Pathogens. Dr. Valdivia continues: "he brings to the field of infectious diseases a unique blend of expertise in mammalian genetics, bacterial pathogenesis and cellular microbiology. This multidisciplinary training places him among few individuals well-poised to take advantage of upcoming mammalian genetic and genomic technologies and break new ground in infectious diseases research. Dr. Coers has a proven track record of creative and innovative research and shows considerable potential as an investigator."


Contact: Garth Hogan
American Society for Microbiology

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