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UTHealth professor to receive service award from American Society for Microbiology

Known nationally for her research into single-cell organisms that affect oral health, Millicent "Mimi" Goldschmidt, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), has been selected to receive the 2011 American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Founders Distinguished Service Award.

The award honors members who have made significant contributions to the society. Goldschmidt joined the ASM in 1949 and has served as Texas branch president, newsletter editor and member of the national ASM Board of Directors. The award will be presented at the ASM General Meeting Awards Banquet and Dinner in New Orleans on May 22.

"Dr. Goldschmidt has furthered the understanding of the basic microbiology of the mouth," said Larry R. Kaiser, M.D., president of UTHealth. "She has done an exemplary job of serving her professional community, her scientific community and her teaching community."

Microbiology is the study of cells that are invisible to the naked eye. These tiny cells include bacteria, viruses and fungi. Goldschmidt studies microbes involved with dental decay, gum disease and oral cancer, as well as rapid methods of detection (biosensors, microarrays and nanoparticles).

Before joining the UTHealth faculty in the early 1970s, Goldschmidt was the coordinator of the protocol to plan the biological tests that would be employed in the lunar receiving laboratory on the first returned moon rocks. She was also instrumental in developing isolation protocols for Apollo astronauts returning from the moon, which ensured that infectious organisms would be detected and contained.

When she started her professional career in Texas five decades ago, Goldschmidt said there were really no rapid methods to detect microorganisms. Her research contributed to the development of rapid immunological and biosensor types of detection methods to pinpoint salmonellae, Escherichia coli (E. Coli) and oral microbes. She consults and lectures nationally and internationally on biosensors, microarrays and nanoparticles.

"Throughout her illustrious career, Mimi has received several prestigious awards and this ASM Founders Distinguished Service Award confirms what we have known all along, that Mimi has been a true leader in the field of microbiology," said Sam Kaplan, Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at the UTHealth Medical School.

Noting that there were not many female faculty members when she started her academic career, Kaplan said Goldschmidt is active in organizations that promote science careers for women including the Association for Women in Science. She is on the ASM Committee on the Status of Women in Microbiology and helped fund the Purdue University Women in Science Programs.

Goldschmidt is also on the faculty of the UTHealth Dental Branch, the UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She received her doctorate at Purdue University and completed postdoctoral fellowships at The University of Texas at Austin and the UTHealth Dental Branch.


Contact: Robert Cahill
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

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