Infectious Diseases Expert Wins Stockton Kimball Award
A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and
chief of the Division
of Infectious Diseases, has received the 2017 Stockton Kimball
Award for consistent academic accomplishment, significant research
discoveries and contributions to the progress of the university and
the Jacobs School of Medicine and
In presenting the award, Suzanne
G. Laychock, PhD, senior associate dean for faculty affairs and
facilities, noted Russo has been a “valued university citizen
for many years, contributing to teaching in medical and dental
school courses and medical student and fellows training, and
extensive service to the profession, SUNY, university, school,
department and community.”
“Tom’s career exemplifies excellence in its broadest
sense,” she said.
Interested in Infectious Diseases at Outset of Career
Russo, who holds a secondary appointment in the Department of
Microbiology and Immunology, became interested in infectious
disease and research early in his career.
After earning his undergraduate degree from Tufts University and
his medical degree from McGill University, he completed a clinical
and research fellowship in infectious diseases at Harvard Medical
School and Tufts-New England Medical Center.
Following his fellowship, Russo was a senior staff fellow at the
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease’s
Laboratory of Clinical Investigation for five years before being
appointed at UB in 1994.
Russo has been honored at UB with the SUNY Inventor Award, and
as a Top 100 Principal Investigator, and as a visionary inventor
for his technology related to the use of microorganisms as controls
for assay specificity and detection.
In 2012, he received the UB Exceptional Scholar Sustained
Russo has served as a staff physician at the Buffalo VA Medical
Center since 1998 and has served as a reviewer for merit grants
from the VA, as well as a reviewer on several National Institutes
of Health (NIH) study sections, the Canadian Institutes of Health
Research, the Empire Clinical Research Investigator Program, and
for the Institut Pasteur.
Focus on Pathogenesis, Vaccine and Drug Development
Laychock noted that throughout his career, Russo’s
research focus has been on pathogenesis and vaccine and drug
development against extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli (E.
coli), Acinetobacter baumannii (A. baumannii), and a
new pathotype of Klebsiella pneumoniae.
Among his many research highlights:
- He holds a patent on his identification of a vaccine candidate
from an extraintestinal isolate of E. coli.
- His work led to a proposal for a new inclusive designation for
extraintestinal pathogenic isolates of E. coli (ExPEC).
- Russo’s group identified a new iron-regulated virulence
gene, ireA, in ExPEC. He and his colleagues also identified a
potential vaccine candidate in one of the receptors found in ExPEC,
and soon after identified other prospects for vaccine
- He pursued investigations into the capsule polysaccharide from
A. baumannii, a gram-negative bacterium often associated with
nosocomial hospital-acquired infections, as a therapeutic target
with immunization potential. He
and his group also identified dihydroorotase dehydrogenase as a
potential drug target for A. baumannii.
- In 2015, Russo and his colleagues published a review of the
important complexities of the antivirulence target paradigm and
proposed a novel resistance-avoiding approach for treating
Research Funded by NIH and VA Merit Review Grants
Russo has published 88 peer-reviewed papers and 33 book
chapters, including his many chapters in the heralded
Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine.
He is currently principal investigator on an NIH grant for
development of a diagnostic test for hypervirulent Klebsiella
pneumoniae, and he is a co-principal investigator for an
NIH-supported project to develop a high-throughput assay for
inhibitors of aerobactin production in hypervirulent Klebsiella
pneumoniae. He has in the past been funded for many years by the
NIH and VA Merit review grants.
Russo is vice chair of finance for the Department of Medicine
and is the outgoing president of Faculty Council, the governing
body of the medical school.
Award Honors Former Medical School Dean
Russo accepted the honor May 18 during the Jacobs School of
Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ Faculty and Staff
Recognition Awards celebration.
He will deliver the Stockton Kimball Lecture in 2018.
The award and lecture recognize an outstanding scholar and
researcher who has also contributed significantly to the school. It
is named in memory of Stockton Kimball, MD ’29, dean of the
medical school from 1946 to 1958.