Heitman Bloom

Congratulation to Joe Heitman and Kerry Bloom on their election to the National Academy of Sciences in 2021.

Joseph Heitman, James B. Duke Professor and Chair of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology and Program Director for the Tri-I MMPTP, was one of two Duke professors elected into the National Academy in 2021. Heitman’s recent research has focused on a novel kind of drug resistance called epi mutation in which a microbe’s genes can be silenced through an RNA silencing pathway, causing mutant-like behavior, without any change in the DNA sequence.

Mentor and faculty member Kerry Bloom, Thad L. Beyle Distinguished Professor and Chair of Biology at UNC-CH, was one of four UNC professors named to the National Academy this year. Kerry Bloom is recognized for his work studying dynamic aspects of the cytoskeleton and chromosomes in live cells. He is known for work on the chromatin structure of active genes and most recently biophysical studies demonstrating the physical basis for how centromeric chromatin is built into a molecular spring that resists microtubule-based extensional forces in mitosis.

Heitman awardHeitman received Mycological Society of America’s distinguished mycologist award.  Joseph Heitman, MD, PhD received the 2021 Distinguished Mycologist Award from the Mycological Society of America this week. He joins other distinguished honorees including John Taylor, Rytas Vilgalys, Meredith Blackwell, Jim Anderson, Linda Kohn, and others.  See previous honorees here.  Dr. Heitman thanked his laboratory and collaborates in the following statement.  “This is truly a reflection of all of your amazing efforts advancing the science, and a testament to all of your contributions to mycology.  From my perspective, it is humbling to be considered a mycologist, let alone a distinguished one.  That reflects the impact of Tim James and Rytas Vilgalys many years ago in teaching a myopic yeast geneticist about the wonder and mystery of the fungal kingdom.”

Joseph Heitman has also been elected to the German National Academy of Sciences -Leopoldina in 2021.

NielsenNielsen Elected to American Academy of Microbiology (AAM). Congratulations to Kirsten Nielsen, Post-doctoral Fellow Alumnus in the Heitman lab, on being one of 65 new Fellows elected into AAM. The American Society for Microbiology is one of the largest professional societies dedicated to the life sciences and is composed of 30,000 scientists and health practitioners. ASM’s mission is to promote and advance the microbial sciences. To read more click here.


HeitmanHeitman joins American Academy of Arts & Sciences (AAAS). Please congratulate Joseph Heitman, Chair and James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, on being elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (AAAS) for 2020. He is among 276 artists, scholars, scientists and leaders honored this year. To read more click here.


SJR Fowler

Distinguished Professorships Awarded. Dr. Sue Jinks-Robertson and Dr. Vance Fowler were among the Duke School of Medicine faculty honored with distinguished professorships this year. Dr. Jinks-Robertson is the Mary Bernheim Distinguished Professor and Dr. Fowler was awarded the Florence McAlister Distinguished Professor of Medicine. To read more, click here.


SJRJinks-Robertson elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Sue Jinks-Robertson, Professor and co-Vice Chair in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, was one of two Duke Faculty members elected to the National Academy of Sciences, which is widely considered one of the highest honors a scientist can receive. To read more about this honor click here.


AlspaughAlspaugh appointed Vice Chair for Academic Affairs.  Andrew Alspaugh, MD, Professor in Medicine (Infectious Diseases), agreed to serve as Vice Chair for Academic Affairs in the Department of Medicine effective April 1, 2019.  Dr. Alspaugh will focus on the oversight of the Department’s appointment, promotion, and tenure process in conjunction whit the associate vice chair for academic affairs.


SteinbachSteinbach elected to the Association of American Physicians.  William Steinbach, MD, Professor in the Department of Pediatrics was elected into the Association of American Physicians (AAP) during a joint meeting on April 6th of the AAP, the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), and the American Physician-Scientists Association (APSA).  Dr. Steinbach was one of 4 Duke physicians to receive this honor.  To read more about Dr. Steinbach’s research, click hereDuke Pediatrics news release.  


Heitman Cowen

Heitman and Cowen awarded a CIFAR research program on Fungal Kingdom: Threats & Opportunities
Joseph Heitman, MD, PhD, James B. Duke Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University and Leah Cowen, PhD, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Microbial Genomics and Infections and Chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto received a Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) research program award in the interdisciplinary area of the Fungal Kingdom: Threats & Opportunities. Dr. Heitman and Dr. Cowen are co-directors for this new program, The Fungal Kingdom. The goal of the Fungal Kingdom program is to address threats of fungi to humans, animals, and plants/agriculture/food security, and to develop ways to mitigate these threats. More detail on the program is available here:

CIFAR is a Canadian-based, global charitable organization that assembles extraordinary research leaders to address science and humanity’s most significant challenges. CIFAR funds collaborative networks of scientists in the range of 15 to 25 investigators who come together over a sustained period of time (programs are funded in five-year increments) to solve important problems. The global call for applications ( announced 4 new programs and 4 returning programs. CIFAR received 120 proposed new programs, 12 finalists were chosen, and four were selected for funding, including the Fungal Kingdom: Threats & Opportunities program.  To read the CIFAR news release click here.

AlspaughAndrew Alspaugh, MD, Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, has received the 2019 Golden Apple Award. The Golden Apple Awards are the highest teaching awards presented by the Duke University School of Medicine student body to recognize outstanding dedication to medical student education. Awardees are selected first by open nomination, then by a vote of the student body. Three awards are given each year: one each to a member of the preclinical (basic science) faculty, clinical faculty, and clinical house staff. To read more, click here.

Congratulations to Colin Maxwell on accepting a job at Zymergen, a biotech company in the Bay area. Colin is excited about the work Zymergen does and is looking forward to his start date.

HeitmanJoseph Heitman, M.D., Ph.D., Chair and James B. Duke Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology have received the 2019 Edward Novitski Prize for his work on human fungal pathogens and for identifying the molecular targets  of widely-used immunosuppressive drugs. Heitman will be presented this prize at the upcoming 30th Fugal Genetics Conference. Click here for the 2019 Edward Novitski Prize announcement.

Luftig, Steinbach, and Tomaras, named AAAS Fellows. Micah Luftig, PhD, Associate Professor, and secondary MGM faculty members, William Steinbach, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Georgia Tomaras, MD, Professor in Surgery were named Fellows of the American Associate for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).  The new fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold-and-blue rosette pin on Saturday, February 16 during the 2019 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.  SOM 


Tri-I MMPTP faculty attended the Scientific Advisory Board meeting in October 2018.  Scientific Advisory Board members, John Perfect, MDJoseph Heitman, MD, PhDWilliam Steinbach, MD,  Andrew Alspaugh, MD, and others met with the Antifungal Drug PO1 team at Duke to hear the progress they’ve made through year three of the grant. Both the internal and external advisory committee members were impressed with how much this group has accomplished and has encouraged the team to focus on where they go from here during the last two years of this grant to ensure that they are reaching as many of their goals as possible.

Joseph Heitman, M.D., Ph.D., Chair and James B. Duke Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology have received 2019 awards from the American Society for Microbiology.  Dr. Heitman received the ASM 2019 Award for Basic Research which recognizes an outstanding scientist whose discoveries have been fundamental in advancing our understanding of the microbial world.  Click here for the School of Medicine Blog post.  Click here for the ASM 2019 Award Winners Announcement.


Benham Award frontBenham Award back

Joseph Heitman, MD, PhD received the 2018 Rhoda Benham Award from the Medical Mycological Society of the Americas (MMSA) for continuous outstanding or meritorious contributions to medical mycology( The award and medal were presented at the MMSA Annual Banquet held in conjunction with the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Microbe meeting in Atlanta, GA on Saturday June 9th, 2018. Rhoda Benham was a luminary and international expert in medical mycology who served on the faculty at Columbia University and Johns Hopkins University. Her work focused on clinical microbiology and in particular emphasized analysis and characterization of pathogenic Candida and Cryptococcus species and dermatophytes. Dr. Heitman joins an illustrious group of previous recipients of the Rhoda Benham award, which has been awarded annually since 1967, including notable Cryptococcus researchers June Kwon-Chung, Arturo Casadevall, John Perfect, and many others ( Dr. Heitman’s research program focuses on both model and pathogenic fungi, including studies on 1) the mechanisms of action and the targets of natural products including the discovery of TOR and FKBP12 as the targets of rapamycin, 2) the evolution and impact of sexual reproduction and the key discovery of unisexual reproduction among eukaryotic microbial pathogens, 3) how pathogenic microbes sense and respond to the host and environmental signals, 4) the structure, function and evolution of fungal mating type loci and fungal genomes, and 5) the role of the phosphatase calcineurin as a globally conserved fungal virulence factor including efforts to develop novel antimicrobial agents that target fungal calcineurin. Dr. Heitman is an elected fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the American Academy of Microbiology, the Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), and the Association of American Physicians, and has previously received the ASBMB AMGEN Award (2002), the Squibb Award from the IDSA (2003), a MERIT Award from NIH-NIAID (2011-2012), and the Stanley Korsmeyer Award from the ASCI (2018). Dr. Heitman is James B. Duke Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University.

Rhoda Benham award talk 2018 and Rhoda Benham Dinner Talk

Drs. Vance Fowler and Sallie Permar, MGM secondary faculty members, are the recipients of the 2018 Research Mentoring Award for Translational Research.   The Research Mentoring Awards were created in 2009 to honor the outstanding research mentors in the Schools of Medicine and Nursing.  Winners of this award demonstrate excellence in numerous aspects of mentoring, including accomplishments of individual mentees, programs implemented by the mentor, or by exceptional creativity in mentoring. These awards will be presented by Dean Mary Klotman at the annual Spring Faculty Meeting, which will be held at the Doris Duke Center, Duke Gardens on Wednesday, May 9, 4:45pm. 

Naggie receives the Oswald Avery Award from IDSA.  Susanna Naggie, PhD. received the Oswald Avery Award from the Infectious Disease Society of America.  Dr. Naggie is the fourth Duke faculty member to receive this award, following William Steinbach, MDVance Fowler, MD, and Joseph Heitman, MD, PhD.  The Oswald Avery Award recognizes outstanding achievement in an area of infectious diseases by a member of the IDSA in their early career.   Read more in the DCRI press release.

Constantino wins BASF Science Competition.  Nasie Constantino, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in laboratory of Ralph Dean was selected as the winner of the 2018 BASF Science competition.  The competition is open to PhD students, postdocs, and young academic researchers from North American universities.  The competition highlights problem solving skills to contribute to a solution of a global challenge.   To read more about the Dean lab research, click here.  Additional articles: BASFNCSU Electrical and Engineering SchoolBASF-Chemistry

Dr. Bill Steinbach, MGM secondary faculty member, is the recipient of the 2018 Ruth and A. Morris Williams Faculty Research Prizefor his outstanding contributions in clinical science research.  This award will be presented  by Dean Mary Klotman at the annual Spring Faculty Meeting, which will be held at the Doris Duke Center, Duke Gardens on Wednesday, May 9, 4:45pm.


Andrew Alspaugh, MD, Professor of Infectious Diseases and Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, has been selected to receive the 2016 Gordon G. Hammes Faculty Teaching Award. Alspaugh is being honored for his continuing excellence in teaching and mentoring and for his exemplary commitment to the education of graduate students.

William J. Steinbach, MD, professor of pediatrics (Infectious Diseases) and professor of molecular genetics and microbiology, will receive the American Federation for Medical Research’s AFMR) highest honor for medical research, the Outstanding Investigator Award.

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