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The American Society for Microbiology honors Geoffrey L. Smith

Washington, DCJune 6, 2012 Geoffrey L. Smith, Ph.D., Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow and Head, Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, and Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, has been bestowed the 2012 GlaxoSmithKline International Member of the Year Award, recognizing exemplary leadership in the international microbiological community. His nominator, Molly Hughes of the University of Virginia, says Smith is "internationally recognized as an outstanding scientist due to his numerous original contributions to the field of virology and the role he plays as a leader in a number of scientific institutions."

Smith received his B.Sc. in Microbiology and Biochemistry from the University of Leeds, and his Ph.D. from the National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, London, while working with influenza virus in the laboratory of Alan Hay. He then held a Wellcome Trust Fellowship at the National Institute for Medical Research, before becoming a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health in the laboratory of Bernard Moss. There, together with Michael Mackett, he developed vaccinia virus as an expression vector and established the use of genetically engineered viruses as live vaccines, a principle applied subsequently to other viruses and microorganisms.

After returning to the United Kingdom, Smith continued working with poxviruses at the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, and the Imperial College London. He is now Head of the Department of Pathology at the University of Cambridge, where he studies the interactions of poxviruses (particularly vaccinia virus) with the host cell and immune system. His research group has contributed to the current understanding of how these poxviruses replicate and spread and how they interfere with innate immunity, findings that provide an "important contribution to not only the field of poxviruses, but have also had widespread implications, particularly in the field of immunology," says Hughes.

"Smith has played an important role in promoting microbiology and advising on science policy both nationally and internationally," says Michael Oldstone of Scripps Research Institute. His sweeping service record demonstrates his commitment to the international community. Smith is currently President of the International Union of Microbiological Societies, Chairman of the WHO Advisory Committee for Variola Virus (smallpox) Research, Chairman of the Royal Society Committee for Scientific Aspects of International Security, a member of the Royal Society Science Policy Advisory Group and the UK Defence Scientific Advisory Council, and a Governor of the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine. He is a Corresponding Member of the Gesellschaft fr Virologie, and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Institute of Biology, the European Academy of Microbiology, the German National Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina), and the Royal Society. In 2003 he became Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of General Virology. He was awarded the Feldberg Foundation Prize in Medical and Biological Science to promote Anglo-German Friendship.

"Smith has been a tireless contributor to the science of microbiology in general and virology in particular throughout his career. His ability to maintain an enormous and global variety of research, teaching, and service activities and do each expertly is awe-inspiring," says Richard Condit, University of Florida.


Contact: Garth Hogan
American Society for Microbiology

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