Dr. Cesar Arias
Dr. Cesar Arias

Dr. Cesar Arias, associate professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases, received the Oswald Avery Award for Early Achievement from the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA).

The presentation was made on Oct. 3 in San Francisco at an annual meeting of the IDSA, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, the HIV Medicine Association and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society. The meeting is called IDWeek 2013.

The award recognizes outstanding achievement in an area of infectious diseases by a member of the IDSA who is 45 years of age or younger.

Arias’ research is focused on stemming the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as superbugs, which are considered one of the major health threats of the 21st Century. Arias operates research laboratories in the United States and Colombia.

“Dr. Arias received the top award for early achievement by a clinician scientist in infectious diseases in the United States. Dr. Arias’ imaginative research focuses on antibiotic resistance that causes countless suffering and death, and costs our country more than $30 billion each year,” said Dr. Herbert DuPont, past president of the IDSA and director of the Center for Infectious Diseases at The University of Texas School of Public Health, part of UTHealth.

“Dr. Arias’ research is global and the impressive center he established in Colombia adds to his important contributions to the field and furthers international medical knowledge on antibiotic resistance recognizing the worldwide movement of disease-causing microbes,” said DuPont, holder of the Mary W. Kelsey Chair in the Medical Sciences.

Arias leads the Medical School’s Laboratory for Antimicrobial Research. Receiving support from the National Institutes of Health, this laboratory is studying the clinical and molecular aspects of antibiotic resistance in an effort to better understand the complex mechanisms by which superbugs become resistant to antibiotics. Researchers then design strategies to fight superbugs.

Arias also is founder and scientific director of the Molecular Genetics and Antimicrobial Resistance Unit at Universidad El Bosque in Bogota, Colombia. This research unit, created in 2000 with the support of the British Wellcome Trust, is a major surveillance center for resistance pathogens in South America.

Working together, researchers in these laboratories have identified novel mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance and unusual trends in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In addition, they have characterized the emergence of certain superbugs.

For his innovative work, Arias has been a recipient of a Wellcome Trust International Fellowship, a NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00) and the Isidro Zavala Trujillo Medal by the Pan-American Society of Infectious Diseases.

Arias received his medical degree from Universidad El Bosque, Bogota, Colombia in 1992. He obtained his MSc in clinical microbiology from the University of London in 1996. In 2000, he received his Ph.D. in molecular biology and microbiology biochemistry from The University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.  Arias completed his internal medicine residency/infectious disease fellowship at McGovern Medical School and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is on the medical staff of Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and Harris Health Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital.

-Rob Cahill, Office of Public Affairs, Media Relations