UTHealth’s Cesar Arias recognized for superbug research

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Cesar A. Arias, M.D., Ph.D.

Cesar A. Arias, M.D., Ph.D.

HOUSTON - (May 17, 2011) - A physician scientist at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School has been recognized for his investigations into antibiotic-resistant bacteria by a major infectious disease association in Latin America.

Assistant Professor of Medicine Cesar A. Arias, M.D., Ph.D., was awarded the Isidro Zavala Trujillo Medal by the Pan-American Society of Infectious Diseases at an Apr. 8 meeting in Punta del Este, Uruguay. The medal recognizes outstanding research of high-impact in Latin America performed by a researcher younger than 45 years of age.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as superbugs, are a threat to humankind, according to the World Health Organization. Infections caused by these bacteria can lead to longer illnesses, extended hospital stays and in some instances death. Antibiotic resistance is on the rise and alternative treatments are frequently suboptimal.

Arias leads the UTHealth Medical School Laboratory for Antimicrobial Research, which is studying the clinical and molecular aspects of antibiotic resistance, attempting to understand the complex mechanisms by which superbugs become resistant to antibiotics and then designing news strategies to fight them.

Arias’ laboratory receives support from the National Institutes of Health and has collaborations with several Latin American countries to study specific types of antibiotic-resistant bacteria affecting Latin America. Arias is also the founder and scientific director of the Molecular Genetics and Antimicrobial Resistance Unit at Universidad El Bosque in Bogota, Colombia. This research unit, created in 2000 with the support of the British Wellcome Trust, has become a major surveillance center for resistance pathogens in Colombia.  This collaborative work, derived from these two laboratories, has identified novel trends in antimicrobial resistance and has characterized the emergence  of particular superbugs in the region.

Arias received his medical degree from Universidad El Bosque, Santa Fe de Bogota, Colombia in 1992. He obtained his MSc in Clinical Microbiology from the University of London in 1996. In 2000, he received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Microbiology Biochemistry from The University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.  Arias carried out his internal medicine residency/infectious disease fellowship at the UTHealth Medical School and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is on the medical staff of Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital.

Rob Cahill
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