Why microbiology matters — and an invitation to hear more on Oct. 12 about multidrug-resistant bacteria, a growing global health threat

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Pictured: Doctoral Candidate Albert To, in the Tropical Medicine vaccine development lab of Dr. Axel Lehrer at UH JABSOM. Photo by Deborah Manog Dimaya.

Living on an archipelago of paradise where the temperature is always warm, the beaches never end, and the lush hiking trails await your exploration, it’s easy to forget that you are on an island. One that is thousand of miles away from our nearest academic neighbor. As a student in Hawaiʻi, our isolation presents a unique challenge to our ability to interact with the greater scientific community. While University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa (UHM) affiliated guests play a vital role in expanding our knowledge, the diversity of the audience is limited to those with connections to the university.

For the past 30+ years, the Hawaiʻi Branch of the American Society for Microbiology (HI-ASM) has been hosting biannual meetings featuring a keynote lecture by a Distinguished ASM speaker. The purpose of the talk is to communicate the recent advances and diversity in microbial research. The greatest benefit and hallmark of our gatherings is our inclusion of student and professionals from various institutions statewide. This provides an opportunity for individuals from different universities, hospitals, government agencies, the military and biotechnology companies to interact with one another. We hope that our meetings can serve as a platform for facilitating scientific discussion and interdisciplinary networking.

This year we are pleased to have Dr. Bettina Fries, the Chief of the Infectious Disease Division at Stony Brook University, present her lecture, “The epidemiology of multidrug resistant Klebsiella and other Enterobacteriaceae in the U.S. Does antibody-mediated treatment of multidrug resistant Klebsiella have a future?” Her talk examines the increasing clinical prevalence of multidrug-resistant bacteria, which recently, under the umbrella term “Antimicrobial Resistance,” has been identified by the World Health Organization as one of ten Global Health Threats. Dr. Fries will also discuss the challenges of developing novel treatments and present her cutting-edge research on immunotherapies.