Steven Geary, Ph.D., professor and head of the Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science is the new chair of the International Organization for Mycoplasmology (IOM). Geary, a highly respected researcher in the field of mycoplasmology, was recently elected to lead this organization.
The IOM is an international scientific organization founded in 1976 fostering research and promoting collaboration among mycoplasmologists around the world.
“It is an honor to be elected to lead the IOM and I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead to grow and strengthen this organization,” says Geary.
Mycoplasmas are a class of bacteria that are distinguished by the lack of a cell wall, small size, and small genomes. Many mycoplasmas are pathogenic to humans, animals, insects, and plants.
UConn’s Department of Pathobiology in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources has a long and storied history of mycoplasma research dating back to the 1960’s beginning with some of the IOM’s founding members, Professor Mark Tourtellotte, Ph.D., and Professor Shmuel Razin, Ph.D., a visiting scholar from Jerusalem, Israel. Many graduate students who were mentored in the department became highly successful mycoplasma researchers, including Geary himself. This tradition continues today as Geary has mentored many students who have contributed and continue to make important discoveries in the field.
Geary holds a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut and was an NIH postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Medical Microbiology at the University of Missouri School of Medicine. He has received funding from several federal sponsors over the span of his career, including the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense as well as from corporate sponsors.
From 2008 to 2009, Geary was a Jefferson Science Fellow at the U.S. Department of State in the Arms Control Bureau, Office of Biological Weapons Affairs where he helped inform policy on biological weapons. His work included aiding in international surveillance monitoring for potential biological weapons research in violation of the international treaty banning biological weapons, “Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.”
Geary is the founding director of the UConn Center of Excellence for Vaccine Research (CEVR). His research has been at the forefront of discovery, including mycoplasma gene expression in-vivo, functional genomics, virulence determinants, and vaccine development.
A practical result of the work that he and his team have recently achieved at CEVR is the discovery of a new path forward to develop a vaccine against the human pathogen responsible for severe cases of walking pneumonia, Mycoplasma pneumoniae. Such a vaccine has eluded researchers since the 1960’s, but now a safe and effective vaccine may be on the horizon.
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