June 6, 2012: Patrice Courvalin, M.D., Institut Pasteur, Paris, France, and member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, has been honored with the 2012 BD Award for Research in Clinical Microbiology. This award honors a distinguished scientist for research accomplishments that form the foundation for important applications in clinical microbiology. "Courvalin is internationally renowned for his in-depth studies in microbiology, with particular emphasis on antibiotic resistance," explains Stuart Levy, Tufts University School of Medicine. "Courvalin has made important discoveries in the fields of infectious diseases, microbiology, and drug resistance. The areas of his studies are broad, and benefit from his insightful recognition of novel findings." Currently Professor de Classe Exceptionnelle at the Institut Pasteur, Paris, Courvalin also directs the French National Reference Center for Antibiotics and is the Head of the Antibacterial Agents Unit.
Courvalin received master's degrees in Sciences and Human Biology from the University of Sciences, Paris, France. He then received his Doctorate in Medical Sciences cum laude from Medical School, Paris, and was a medical resident at the Hopital de l'Institut Pasteur. He then became a Research Associate at the University of Wisconsin, Madison from 1974-1977, and was Visiting Scholar in the Department of Biology, University of California, San Diego from 1989-1990. Courvalin has held many positions at the Institut Pasteur since 1970, including Chairman of the Department of Fundamental and Medical Microbiology from 2002-2003.
"Courvalin has carried out stellar research on the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance for some thirty years," according to Julian Davies, University of British Columbia. An expert in the genetics and biochemistry of antibiotic resistance, Courvalin first described and elucidated vancomycin resistance in Enterococcus. "This was arguably one of the most important findings in clinical antibiotic resistance microbiology of the past several decades," says his nominator, Gerry Wright of McMaster University. His research has led to a revision of the dogma describing natural dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes. "He has gone on to identify and classify several genetic variants of vancomycin resistance in Enterococci and recently in Staphylococci," Wright continued. Courvalin and his colleagues demonstrated that a wide variety of pathogenic bacteria can promiscuously exchange the genetic material conferring antibiotic resistance, proved that conjugation could account for dissemination of resistance determinants between phylogenetically remote bacterial genera, elucidated the transposition mechanism of conjugative transposons from Gram-positive cocci, and more recently have shown direct mammalian cells. "His contributions are always original and highly pertinent to practical aspects of antimicrobial chemotherapy. In addition, he is not only a leading researcher, but has applied his research for diagnostic purposes," expands Davies.
With more than 290 publications in international scientific journals, Courvalin's work is highly cited and recognized. He is Doctor honoris causa of the University of El Bosque, Bogota, the University of Mons, Hainaut, and the Technical University of Denmark. Courvalin has received numerous awards, including the Louis Garrod Award of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, the International Society for Chemotherapy's Hamao Umezawa Award, the Hoechst Marion Roussel Award from the ASM, the ISI Award (French Microbiologist Citation Laureate), the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Excellence Award, and the AGF Grand Prix of the French National Academy of Sciences. In addition, the Fondation de France has presented him with the Thérèse Lebrasseur, Jacques Monod, and Jean Valade Awards. A Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, Courvalin has also been honored with Fellowship by the French National Academy of Technologies, European Academy of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Royal Academy of Medicine, Sarragossa, and the Royal College of Physicians, London, and has been named an honorary Fellow of the Australian Society for Antimicrobials. He serves on the editorial board of several international journals in microbiology and infectious diseases. "Courvalin has truly spanned fundamental research on resistance and its application in the clinic, and is highly deserving of this award," summarizes Wright.
American Society for Microbiology