ANNE A. GERSHON, MD, FPIDS, FIDSA, an internationally recognized authority on varicella disease who has added greatly to our understanding of its pathogenesis, treatment, and prevention, is the recipient of IDSA’s 2015 Alexander Fleming Award for Lifetime Achievement. This award recognizes a career that reflects major contributions to the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge about infectious diseases, as well as a lifetime of leadership in the field of infectious diseases. Starting with her first publication on varicella in the Journal of Immunology in 1972, which characterized the antigens of the virus, and continuing over the next four decades, Dr. Gershon has added significantly to our knowledge of this pathogen, from its biology and clinical manifestations to cell-mediated and humoral responses, latency, and reactivation. Her studies were crucial in the U.S. licensure of the live attenuated varicella vaccine in 1995 and have helped guide its now broad use in healthy children and its use in children with compromised immune systems, as well as in adults. This work has impacted vaccine recommendations, clinical practice, and public health by helping drastically reduce infections and resulting hospitalizations from severe cases. She was also one of the first to highlight the impact of herpes simplex virus infection in newborns and has led important antiviral drug studies. Among her many contributions, Dr. Gershon’s research has clarified how varicella zoster virus (VZV) uses the mannose-6-phosphate receptor, the virus’s intracellular trafficking in the trans-Golgi network, and the relative importance of cell-mediated and humoral responses to specific VZV glycoproteins. The fluorescent antibody to membrane antigen assay, which Dr. Gershon helped develop, remains the gold standard for measuring VZV-specific antibodies that correlate with clinical protection from varicella. Today, her investigations of VZV infection in the enteric system, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are again broadening the understanding of viral pathogenesis. Dr. Gershon’s pivotal studies of the safety and efficacy of the liveattenuated varicella vaccine in children with leukemia in remission dramatically changed the management and outlook for these children. Her subsequent research, which showed children with leukemia who received the vaccine were less likely to develop herpes zoster than those with wild-type varicella, was the first to demonstrate this additional benefit of vaccination. These findings were also the first to show that vaccine attenuation also impacted latency and reactivation of the virus, pointing the way to similar studies in other immunocompromised populations. Her research on varicella vaccination in HIV-infected children at different levels of immune competence was critical in demonstrating the safety of the vaccine in these children and resulted in changes in recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Dr. Gershon’s studies of the persistence of specific antibody after vaccination and the benefits of two-dose vaccination in healthy children also played a major role in changes in vaccine dosing recommendations in 2006, leading to further declines in varicella disease. In addition, she has participated in pivotal studies of the zoster vaccine in older adults.Dr. Gershon was, until recently, the director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and professor of pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, positions she has held for more than 25 years. She is also an attending pediatrician at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and has trained and mentored many young investigators who have gone on to productive academic careers. She authored more than 200 peer-reviewed publications and more than 100 reviews and book chapters and has been an invited lecturer around the world. In addition to her significant scientific achievements, Dr. Gershon has contributed notably to IDSA and to the field of infectious diseases. An IDSA John F. Enders Lecturer in 1996, Dr. Gershon served on the Board of Directors of IDSA and was president of IDSA from 2008 to 2009. She has served on the editorial boards for several scientific journals and on various committees and leadership groups, including ACIP, the PIDS Council, and the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Infectious Diseases. Her many honors include election to membership in the American Society for Clinical Investigation (1983) and the PIDS Distinguished Physician Award (2008) and the Stephen E. Straus Memorial Lectureship on Infectious Diseases at NIH (2012). In 2013, Dr. Gershon received the Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal Award from the Sabin Vaccine Institute and was the PIDS Stanley A. Plotkin Lecturer in Vaccinology. She has been recognized as one of the Best Doctors in America and New York multiple times. Dr. Gershon earned a medical degree from Cornell University Medical College in New York in 1964. After a pediatric internship at New York Hospital, she spent a year conducting research at Oxford University in the United Kingdom through a U.S. Public Health Service postdoctoral fellowship and completed a residency in pediatrics at New York Hospital, followed by an infectious diseases fellowship at the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine. She quickly rose to the position of professor of pediatrics at NYU before joining Columbia University in 1986. One of the scientific community’s premier experts on varicella, Dr. Gershon has contributed enormously to the field’s knowledge of the virus and the vaccine used to prevent it over more than four decades of exhaustive research. For those accomplishments and her leadership within infectious diseases, IDSA is proud to recognize Dr. Gershon with the 2015 Alexander Fleming Award for Lifetime Achievement.
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