Awardee 2007 for Excellence in Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
E. Richard Moxon born 1941 in Leeds, United Kingdom; M.B., B.Chir., F.Med.Sci., Professor and Head of the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Oxford, Head of the Molecular Infectious Diseases Group at the Institute of Molecular Medicine and Chairman of the Oxford Vaccine Group, in recognition of his outstanding contributions in the fields of microbial evolution, bacterial pathogenesis and vaccine development. His laboratory has been at the forefront of research on the pathogenesis and prevention of infections caused by Haemophilus influenzae and Neisseria meningitidis, investigations which have facilitated the prevention of childhood infections caused by encapsulated bacteria.
E. Richard Moxon has a long-standing interest in the biology of Haemophilus influenzae and Neisseria meningitidis, bacteria that are especially important respiratory tract commensals and pathogens of young children. His early laboratory research focussed on the pathogenesis of bacteremia and meningitis using experimental infection of infant rats. Later, molecular genetics and genomics were used to pinpoint the roles of capsular polysaccharide (CPS) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in pathogenesis. CPS and LPS are bacterial cell-surface expressed structures which are critical to commensal and virulence behaviour and exhibit variable expression, an observation that lead to the discovery of the ‘contingency genes’ responsible for microbial host-adaptation through phase-variation of hypermutable, repetitive DNA. CPS and LPS are macromolecules that are the basis of current and candidate vaccines against serious invasive infections (e.g. bacteraemia and septicaemia). His clinical research has been to translate the basic science findings, especially through vaccines trials, to prevent these life-threatening infections.