Young Investigator Awardees 2011

The 2011 awards went to Surbhi Malhotra-Kumar and Annelies Zinkernagel.

Surbhi Malhotra-Kumar
Born 1972 in Sirsa, India; PhD, Senior Research Fellow at the Laboratory of Medical Microbiology, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Institute, University of Antwerp, Belgium, in recognition of her outstanding achievements in bridging the gap between basic and ecologic research and in trying to link antibiotic
use to the emergence and persistence of antibiotic resistance.

Research Interests
Surbhi Malhotra-Kumar completed her Masters in Medical Microbiology in 1998, Masters in Molecular Biology in 2003; and a PhD in Medical Microbiology in 2005 under the supervision of Herman Goossens. The research of Surbhi Malhotra-Kumar has focused on the molecular epidemiology and genetics of resistance to common groups of antimicrobials in oral streptococci. Applying molecular biological techniques on oro-pharyngeal streptococcal flora in healthy individuals as a model, she demonstrated that antibiotic use is the single most important driver of antibiotic-resistance in vivo, that antibiotics belonging
to the same class can differ widely in resistance gene selection, and that differences in predominance of certain resistance genes in geographically distinct areas might be linked to the preferential use of specific antibiotic subclasses. Her current research interests include studying the impact of antibiotic use on the naso-oro-pharyngeal and intestinal microbiome, mechanisms of biofilm formation, animal models of infection, and developing rapid diagnostic assays for pathogens causing community-acquired and nosocomial infections.

Annelies Zinkernagel
Born 1972 in Basel, Switzerland, Attending Senior Physician, Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland, in recognition of her impact on our understanding of critical aspects of the interaction between streptococci and staphylococci and the host innate immune system.

Research Interests
Annelies Zinkernagel completed her training in Internal Medicine
(2002) and Infectious Diseases in 2005 at the University
Hospital of Zurich, Switzerland, followed by a PhD in 2009 and
postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Victor Nizet in San
Diego, California, USA. There she studied group A streptococcal
virulence factors and how these allow the bacteria to evade
the host’s innate immune system. Currently she combines her
clinical and laboratory expertise and works as an attending infectious
disease specialist at the University Hospital of Zurich,
Switzerland, where she also leads an independent research
group. Her translational research focuses on understanding bacterial
virulence factors and corresponding innate immune response
pathways. Improved knowledge on host pathogen interaction
may allow to develop novel treatment options that can
either neutralize the bacterial virulence factors or boost the host
defense and improve outcome in patients suffering from infectious