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University of Maryland School of Medicine Names New Chair of Microbiology and Immunology

Thursday, February 01, 2007

 James Kaper, PhD

James B. Kaper, PhD, has been appointed chair of the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Kaper has been on faculty at the School of Medicine since 1981, and has most recently served as a professor of microbiology & immunology and medicine, associate director for laboratory research and chief of the bacterial genetics section in the Center for Vaccine Development, as well as co-course director for the Host Defenses and Infectious Diseases medical student course. 

"Dr. Kaper is a scholar who has made international contributions to the world’s vaccine development program, having developed the first genetically engineered bacterial vaccine licensed for human use," says E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, vice president of medical affairs, University of Maryland and dean, School of Medicine. "He is one of the nation’s leading investigators in his discipline and one of the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s top researchers in terms of federal funding."

Dr. Kaper earned his undergraduate and doctoral degrees from the University of Maryland College Park. He completed post-doctoral work at the University of Washington, Seattle in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology.

Dr. Kaper’s research focuses on the molecular pathogenesis of enteropathogenic and enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli infections, the development of live oral cholera vaccines and the molecular pathogenesis of Vibrio cholerae. He has published more than 266 peer-reviewed journal articles, six books and 63 book chapters. He serves as an editor for the journal Infection and Immunity, associate editor for the International Journal of Medical Microbiology and as co-editor-in-chief for EcoSal: Escherichia coli and Salmonella Cellular and Molecular Biology. Dr. Kaper’s work on cholera vaccines and E. coli has earned him five patents from the United States Patent Office and multiple international patents.

He has been funded continuously by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a principal investigator since 1982. He is the recipient of an NIH Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award, a program designed to provide long-term support to investigators whose research competence and productivity are distinctly superior. Dr. Kaper’s MERIT award funds his research on the pathogenic mechanisms by which enteropathogenic E. coli cause infant diarrhea. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

"The University of Maryland School of Medicine has long been known for its strength in the area of infectious diseases, and there is tremendous potential to develop an outstanding basic science program in pathogen-host interactions," says Dr. Kaper. "My goal is to build on the Department of Microbiology & Immunology’s existing strengths to raise it into the top 20 microbiology and immunology departments in research, while maintaining our strong teaching program in medical and graduate student education."

"I expect that Dr. Kaper will further propel an already strong department to significantly greater heights through major program development and collaborative relationships with other nationally recognized School of Medicine programs, such as the Center for Vaccine Development, the Institute of Human Virology and the Department of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases," says Dr. Reece. "I look forward to working closely with him to elevate the department into the top-tier of basic science departments."

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