The 2009 American Society for Microbiology (ASM) GlaxoSmithKline International ASM Member of the Year Award has been presented to pioneer Shigella researcher Philippe Sansonetti, M.D., director, Unité de Pathogénie Microbienne Moléculaire, Institut Pasteur, Paris.

This award recognizes a distinguished microbiologist who has exhibited exemplary leadership in the international microbiological community. It was presented during the recent 109th General Meeting of the ASM in Philadelphia.

Known as one of the founders of the field of cellular microbiology, Dr. Sansonetti received his M.D. from the University of Paris and did his postdoctoral work in the Department of Enteric Diseases at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington, D.C. This is where he began his work on Shigella pathogenesis, an area of science that has been dominated by Dr. Sansonetti and his lab for the past 20 years.

Dr. Sansonetti established his lab at the Institut Pasteur where he created the Unité de Pathogénie Microbienne Moléculaire. He has supervised 30 postdoctoral fellows and mentored 20 Ph.D. students. His teaching has been recognized with visiting professorships at Harvard Medical School, Rockefeller University, the University of Tennessee, the University of Texas, and Washington University.

In 2008, Sansonetti was named professor and chair of microbiology and infectious diseases at the Collège de France, which was founded in 1530 to “teach science in the making” to the general public. In 1998, he co-founded the journal, Cellular Microbiology, to address a growing new multidisciplinary field of research and continues to serve as the editor of this international, high impact journal.

Dr. Sansonetti’s laboratory is credited with some of the most important contributions to our understanding of intracellular pathogens and seminal discoveries that established the importance of cytoplasmic sensing in surveillance of intracellular pathogens. This work has led to key outcomes resulting in the understanding of how innate immune responses are regulated in response to intracellular pathogens.

ASM claims to be the world’s oldest and largest life science organization with more than 43,000 members worldwide. ASM’s mission is to advance the microbiological sciences and promote the use of scientific knowledge for improved health and economic and environmental well-being.