AAAS recognizes Dr. Keim for contributions to microbiology, genetics, genomic analysis, evolution, forensics and public health
Dr. Paul Keim, Director of the Pathogen Genomics Division of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the Cowden Endowed Chair of Microbiology at Northern Arizona University (NAU), has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Election as a Fellow of AAAS is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers for meritorious efforts to advance science or its applications.
Dr. Keim’s peers recognized him for “distinguished contributions to the fields of microbiology, evolution and genetics through the use of genomic analysis for applications in forensics, biology and public health,” according to the AAAS, which will formally announce this year’s Fellows in the Nov. 27 issue of the organization’s journal Science.
Dr. Keim and other new Fellows also will be recognized Feb. 13 at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2016 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Keim is a world-renowned expert in anthrax and other infectious diseases. At TGen and NAU he directs investigations into how to bolster the nation’s biodefense, and to prevent outbreaks — even pandemics — of such contagions as flu, cholera, E. coli, salmonella, and even the plague.
“There is no question that AAAS’s recognition of Dr. Keim is extremely well deserved,” said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen President and Research Director. “Paul’s achievements in revealing the genomes of microbial pathogens — both natural and those made into weapons — are of profound worldwide importance. His research, along with his dedication to his students and to the cause of public health, place him in the upper echelon of premier scientists, and cements Arizona’s place on the map in this critical and growing area of research.”
“Thousands of NAU students have participated in research organized by Dr. Keim, and from there have launched successful scientific careers,” said NAU President Rita Cheng. “His research group has forged a strong partnership between the university and TGen North, generating an important economic impact and producing health benefits for Arizona and beyond.”
Dr. Keim also is Director of NAU’s Microbial Genetics & Genomics Center, also in Flagstaff, a program that works with numerous government agencies to help thwart bioterrorism and the spread of pathogen-caused diseases.
“I’m gratified to know this honor also brings recognition to everyone in the lab, including the students who work with us,” said Dr. Keim, a Professor at TGen and Regents Professor of Microbiology at NAU. “Their contributions, achieved through dedication and talent, are meaningful and well deserving of the attention.”
Dr. Keim is a former member and chair of the federal government’s National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), where he helped draft national research policy guidelines for blunting bioterrorism while elevating ethical standards and improving the quality of scientific research.
“Our science has been completely transformed by the rapid advancements of technology. Now, TGen’s job is to use these advancements to make positive impacts on human health. We have that ability, therefore, we feel that we have that responsibility to mankind,” Dr. Keim said.
His lab was involved in the investigation of the 2001 anthrax-letters attacks. Anthrax samples from the U.S. House and Senate buildings were rushed under heavy guard to Dr. Keim’s laboratory in Flagstaff for analysis. At the time, the FBI didn’t have a biosafety Level 3 lab. Dr. Keim’s lab became the major repository for anthrax samples gathered for comparison by the FBI from across the globe.
TGen North collaborates with local, national and international universities, biotech companies, security agencies, health care providers, public health departments and other institutions in its quest to protect human health.
Dr. Daniel D. Von Hoff, TGen Physician-In-Chief and Distinguished Professor, was named an AAAS Fellow in 1992 for his work in Medical Sciences.
Dr. Thomas Witham, NAU Regents Professor of Biology, was named an AAAS Fellow in 2011 for his research in Ecological Sciences.
The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Fellows are elected by the AAAS Council, which is the policymaking body of the Association, chaired by the AAAS president, and consisting of the members of the board of directors, the retiring section chairs, delegates from each electorate and each regional division, and two delegates from the National Association of Academies of Science.