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Accolades & Honors

Graham Hatfull earned a lifetime achievement award from the European Society of Mycobacteriology

Graham Hatfull pulls samples from a freezer

Phage researcher and clinical pioneer Graham Hatfull is this year’s recipient of the prestigious Gardner Middlebrook Lifetime Achievement Award from the European Society of Mycobacteriology (ESM) for his contributions to the study of tuberculosis and related diseases.

The Eberly Family Professor of Biotechnology in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences has pioneered the use of bacteriophages, or just “phages,” to combat antibiotic resistant infections.

Last year he reported on two such efforts in the journals Cell and Nature Communications. One study focused on using genetically engineered phages to rid a cystic fibrosis patient of a yearslong bacterial infection that had prevented him from receiving a lung transplant. Another was on the first use of phage therapy to treat a skin infection caused by Mycobacterium chelonae in an immunocompromised patient.

Hatfull’s lab uses its library of phages, as well as a large stock of bacteria samples, to find the best option to attack infections caused by different strains of bacteria.

The lab’s clinical operation reaches around the globe. The team receives requests from patients who have run out of options to treat infections; in return, Hatfull’s team does the legwork of finding a matching phage, or cocktail of phages, for the job and sends them to people for treatment.

The lifetime achievement award is named for Gardner Middlebrook, who helped develop a blood test and a treatment for tuberculosis, which is caused by infection with a specific strain of Mycobacterium.