August 10, 2010 — The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene has awarded its 2010 Bailey K. Ashford Medal to Dr. Eric Houpt, an associate professor of infectious diseases at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.
The medal is awarded for distinguished work in tropical medicine to scientists in the early or middle stages of their careers. Houpt won the medal for his contributions to the research and teaching of infectious disease, including the understanding of gastrointestinal diseases. In addition, he was recognized for developing criteria for core competencies in global health and novel molecular approaches to the diagnosis of enteric infection.
Houpt's area of expertise is in enteric infections, tuberculosis and international health. He has served as principal investigator for several National Institutes of Health-supported research projects in these areas.
Houpt manages two field sites in Tanzania that focus on molecular diagnostics, diarrhea and malnutrition, work that has attracted both NIH and Gates Foundation funding.
He has been described by colleagues "as one of the most effective and best-organized academic stars in our field." In nominating him for the medal, a colleague described him as "more than the true 'triple threat'; he is a superb teacher and organizer, outstanding researcher and recognized authority in his field. Furthermore, he has masterfully brought together a superb group of collaborators and set up an outstanding new field study site in Tanzania."
In addition, Houpt has led tropical infectious diseases teaching and curriculum development, both locally and nationally. He has authored more than 40 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals. He has also taken undergraduate students with colleagues in the U.Va.'s McIntire School of Commerce to launch global health electives beyond the School of Medicine.
The award was named for Bailey K. Ashford, who served in the Army Medical Corps in the early part of the 20th century. He was sent to Puerto Rico, in command of medical department troops. He recognized that hookworms caused the anemia prevalent among the rural populations and in 1904 he founded the Puerto Rico Anemia Commission to combat the disease.
Information on the medal is available online.