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UGA researcher elected to Institute of Medicine

By Sharon Omahen
University of Georgia

University of Georgia food microbiologist Michael Doyle has been elected as a member of the Institute of Medicine.

Established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, the institute is a national resource for independent, scientifically informed analysis and recommendations on issues related to human health.

"It is a great pleasure to welcome Dr. Doyle to the Institute of Medicine," said IOM President Harvey V. Fineberg. "Members are elected through a highly selective process that recognizes those who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health. Election is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of medicine and health."

By accepting their election, members commit to devoting a significant amount of volunteer time as members of IOM committees whose work focuses on health policy issues.

Director of UGA's Center for Food Safety

Doyle is a regents professor of food microbiology and the director of the UGA Center for Food Safety in Griffin, Ga. He came to UGA in 1991 from the University of Wisconsin, where he was the Wisconsin distinguished professor of food microbiology and toxicology.

In 1993, Doyle established the Center for Food Safety. He developed a research program that promotes collaboration among the food industry, the university and federal and state agencies.

His research focuses on developing methods to detect and control foodborne bacterial pathogens at all levels of the food continuum, from the farm to the table. He is internationally acknowledged as a leading authority on foodborne pathogens, especially Escherichia coli O157:H7.

In the early 1980s, Doyle was the first food microbiologist to study E. coli O157:H7, the major cause of hemolytic uremic syndrome in children in the United States.

His research group at the University of Wisconsin developed the first procedure for isolating this pathogen from foods and determined the heat treatments needed to kill it in ground beef. The research group also developed a monoclonal antibody now widely used to rapidly detect E. coli in foods.

Research contributions

Doyle's research contributions include:

* Conducting the first major survey, in collaboration with government agencies, to determine the prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 in dairy cattle.

* Identifying, in collaboration with UGA veterinary pathologists, the principal sites of localization of E. coli in cattle.

* Identifying and characterizing the unusual acid tolerance of E. coli O157:H7.

Doyle is an advisor to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and World Health Organization. He often serves as a consultant to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in investigations of foodborne illness outbreaks. He is a consultant, too, to food processors to help set up procedures to ensure food safety.

Doyle organized and edited one of the most-used reference books on foodborne pathogens, "Foodborne Bacterial Pathogens." He co-edited the recently published "Food Microbiology: Fundamentals and Frontiers."

Awards and honors

Last year, he and UGA food microbiologist Larry Beuchat were awarded the Partners in Public Health Award by CDC. In 1996, he received the Nicholas Appert Award, the highest given by the Institute of Food Technologists, a nonprofit scientific society with 28,000 members.

Among many other awards and honors, he has received the award for professional excellence from the American Agricultural Economics Association, the Samuel Cate Prescott award for research from the Institute of Food Technologists, and the P.R. Edwards award for outstanding service in microbiology from the Southeastern branch of the American Society for Microbiology.

(Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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