Mitchell Announces Retirement

July 20, 2011

Thomas G. Mitchell, PhD, will retire from his position as Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and Director of the Molecular Mycology and Pathogenesis Training Program (MMPTP) on August 1, 2011. He has been a faculty member in the Department since 1974 and Director of the MMPTP since its inception in 2003.

Mitchell’s career was largely devoted to the field of microbial pathogenesis, elucidating fungal-immune cell interactions, population structures of human pathogens, and how sex enables pathogen emergence. Another commitment of major proportion was his involvement in the teaching, mentoring and research training of numerous post-doctoral fellows and undergraduate, graduate, and medical students.

In addition, Mitchell supervised the Serology (1974-1982) and Clinical Mycology and Mycobacteriology (1974-1991) sections of the Duke Hospital Clinical Microbiology Laboratory. He also served as the Program Director of the tri-institutional Molecular Mycology and Pathogenesis Training Program (2003-2011), which is the only NIH-funded training grant that specifically supports postdoctoral fellows engaged in research focused on fungi as model organisms or pathogens of plants or animals.

His contributions to medical education span 32 years (1975-2007). During this time, he organized and taught the internationally-recognized Duke Summer Mycology Course and Medical Mycology and was a small group laboratory instructor/director in the first-year course of Microbiology and The Body and Disease. He also served as the study program director for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. His publication record includes 85 research papers and 68 chapters and reviews.

“I have had the pleasure to work very closely with Tom for the last 18 years here at Duke,” said Joseph Heitman, MD, PhD, Chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology.  “Tom has been a truly outstanding faculty member, a leader in the field of medical mycology, a tireless mentor for students and post-doctoral fellows, and a very active member of the Duke community.”

Mitchell received his undergraduate degree in biology and chemistry from the University of North Texas in 1963 and his PhD degree in medical mycology from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1971. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Minnesota Medical School where he investigated the chemotaxis and phagocytosis of C. albicans by human neurophils.

Mitchell is an elected Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (1991), the American Academy of Microbiology (1994) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2008). In 2004, he received the MMSA Cooper Award for Achievements in Clinical Mycology and Mycological Education.  Mitchell will continue his dedication and involvement with the Duke University School of Medicine as an Emeritus faculty member.