ICHS Achievement Awards

The International Immunocompromised Host Society has awarded, for the second time, a Lifetime Achievement award and a Young Investigator award two highly qualified ICHS members.  The awards were presented during the closing ceremony of the 21st  ICHS Symposium on Friday, 19 February, 2021.  


Congratulations to the recipients! 


The International Immunocompromised Host Society
Lifetime Achievement Award


  Dr Philip Pizzo, Stanford University, United States, Recipient of the ICHS Lifetime Achievement Award

During the past four decades, Dr. Pizzo has distinguished himself as an internationally renowned leader in the field of infectious diseases support of care in Pediatric and Adult Oncology as well as a pioneer in the field of Pediatric HIV/AIDS. Having joined the Pediatric Oncology Branch of the National Cancer Institute in 1976, Dr. Pizzo rose to become Senior Investigator and Head of the Infectious Diseases Section, and finally to become Chief of Pediatrics of the National Cancer Institute. Throughout that twenty-year period at the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Pizzo made extraordinary advances in the field of infectious disease supportive care in Pediatric Oncology. For example, he was among the first investigators to identify the transition of emerging infections in patients with cancer from Gram-negative to Gram-positive bacterial pathogens. He developed rational evidenced based strategies for antimicrobial interventions based upon the duration of antibiotic therapy in patients with fever and neutropenia. These included demonstration of the benefit of empirical antifungal therapy in patients with persistent fever and neutropenia. These critical observations led to subsequent studies of empirical antifungal therapy that became standards of care in the prevention and early treatment of invasive fungal infections in persistently febrile neutropenic patients.

The innovative protocol for empirical antifungal therapy in persistently febrile neutropenic

patients provided a strategy for prevention of invasive fungal infection in high risk patients, as

well as early treatment of deep mycoses before becoming clinically overt and potentially fatal.

The strategy for empirical antifungal therapy has been utilized worldwide and later shown to be

effective in a wide range of persistently febrile neutropenic patients with caspofungin (as a

model echinocandin), liposomal amphotericin B (developed to reduce nephrotoxicity), and

voriconazole (as a model mould-active triazole). This strategy for empirical antifungal therapy

also established the foundation for pre-emptive therapy, where biomarkers and diagnostic

imaging further defined patients who would benefit from antifungal therapy. Empirical antifungal

therapy also provided broader anti-infective support to patients receiving antifungal prophylaxis

complicated by breakthrough triazole-resistant yeast and mould infections.

Dr. Pizzo also has made other key contributions to Medical Mycology in being the first to

describe the natural history, clinical manifestations, diagnostic imaging, and therapeutic

interventions of hepatosplenic candidiasis (chronic disseminated candidiasis). He also

contributed to the establishment of novel animal models of disseminated candidiasis and

pulmonary aspergillosis, as well as to development of innovative diagnostic methods for

detection of these frequently lethal infections.

Among Dr. Pizzo’s other key contributions was the pivotal study demonstrating that empirical

monotherapy with a third generation cephalosporin (ceftazidime) versus combination therapy

with beta-lactam plus aminoglycoside was equivalent but less toxic as empirical antibacterial

therapy of febrile neutropenic patients at risk for life-threatening infections. This particular study

revolutionized the management of empirical antibacterial therapy in febrile neutropenic patients

from that of a dependency on beta-lactam plus aminoglycoside to that of a less toxic but equally

effective third-generation cephalosporin. This seminal study and subsequent clinical trials

provided the standard of care, which continues as an enduring contribution that has permitted

tens of thousands of patients to avoid the nephrotoxicity and ototoxicity of aminoglycoside

therapy during chemotherapy-induced neutropenia.

Recognizing that many patients with solid tumors and some lymphomas had shorter durations

of neutropenia with less risk for infectious complications, Dr. Pizzo also laid the foundation for

oral antibacterial therapy for the treatment of relatively low risk febrile neutropenic patients in

lieu of intravenous antibacterial therapy. Again, this strategy achieved widespread international

usage as a cornerstone in managing relatively low risk febrile neutropenic patients.

Dr. Pizzo also further addressed other critical gaps of knowledge in the infectious diseases

supportive care of children with cancer. These studies included defining the role of lung biopsy

versus empirical therapy in immunocompromised patients, as well as understanding the relative

risks and benefits of antibacterial prophylaxis in pediatric oncology.

With the advent of HIV/AIDS and the ensuing global epidemic of this tragic disease, Dr. Pizzo

marshaled vast resources to rapidly develop antiretroviral therapies in HIV-infected children.

Under his direction, the first clinical trial of antiretroviral therapy was conducted in HIV-infected

children followed by important trials in the use of AZT, ddC, ddI, 3TC, as well as protease

inhibitors and other novel agents in this vulnerable population.

In further developing an understating of the pathogenesis of HIV infection in children, Dr. Pizzo

and his staff developed new insights into the immunopathogenesis and neuropathogenesis of

pediatric HIV/AIDS. Rising to the status of a world leader in pediatric HIV infection, Dr. Pizzo

served as co-editor of three editions of the definitive textbook - Pediatric AIDS.

Throughout his career, Dr. Pizzo has been a mentoring role model who epitomizes a

compassionate patient caregiver guided by leading edge laboratory and clinical science. In

addition to his groundbreaking research in infectious diseases supportive care, as well as in

pediatric HIV/AIDS, Dr. Pizzo has contributed significantly to the education and mentoring of

numerous trainees. He has mentored more than ninety postdoctoral fellows, as well as leading

key training initiatives in pediatric oncology and pediatric AIDS at the National Institutes of

Health, the pediatric residency program at Children’s Hospital in Boston, and the medical

student education curriculum at Stanford University.

Dr. Pizzo also has contributed fundamentally to the pillars of ICHS as one of its founding

members. His dynamic leadership in its early development was critical to the current success of

the society that we enjoy today. Dr. Pizzo’s lifetime career epitomizes the highest values

espoused by the ICHS for patient care, teaching, and research that has profoundly improved

survival, outcome, and quality of life for immunocompromised patients worldwide.

In summary, Dr. Pizzo is unequivocally one of the foremost leaders in pediatric infectious

diseases, oncology supportive care, pediatric HIV/AIDS, and medical education of our time. His

creative vision, extraordinary productivity, heartfelt compassion, and inspiring leadership have

saved and improved the lives of thousands of children as well as transforming our

understanding of basic disease processes and implementation of novel therapeutic strategies.


 

The International Immunocompromised Host Society
Young Investigator Award


 Dr Mario Fern├índez Ruiz, University of Madrid, Spain, recipient of the ICHS Young Investigator Award


Dr Fernandez-Ruiz obtained his medical degree at the University of Madrid, Spain in 2004. He started then the residency in internal medicine at the University Hospital of 12 de Octubre, also in Madrid, followed by a fellowship in infectious diseases in the immunocompromised host, under

the supervision of Prof. Jose M. Aguado. Dr Fernandez-Ruiz showed early during his training a particular interest in clinical research. He could pursuit a research career by obtaining three prestigious research grants in Spain: the Rio Ortega grant in 2012, the Juan Rodes grant in 2015, and in 2019, the Miguel Servet post-doctoral contract from the lnstituto de Salud Carlos Ill of the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities. He also had the opportunity to complete his training as both clinician and clinical research scientist in one of the most world-renown centers in Transplant Infectious Diseases, the University Health Network in Toronto, Canada, with Prof. Atul Humar, as well as a 6-month research fellowship at Lausanne University Hospital in 2018.

The main research interest of Dr Fernandez-Ruiz is the identification of the individual risk of

infection by the assessment of novel biomarkers in the transplant population. In particular, he

confirmed in several publications the role of hypogammaglobulinemia, lymphocyte

subpopulations (including NK cells) and complement levels as robust markers for infection in this

population. He additionally evaluated, using an original research approach, the performance of

Torque Teno virus DNAemia as biomarker for determining the risk of opportunistic infections in

solid-organ transplant recipients. Other important contributions of Dr Fernandez-Ruiz in the field

include the evaluation of the role of cell-mediated immunity assays on the incidence of

cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection in transplant recipients. In addition, Dr Fernandez-Ruiz has also

extensively published on the epidemiology, diagnosis and management of invasive fungal

infection (and in particular invasive candidiasis) in the immunocompromised host. Recently, he

has contributed with several publications to assess the risk of infection in patients receiving

biological therapies. Finally, he is one of the most active researchers worldwide currently

assessing the epidemiology and outcomes of Covid-19 in transplant recipients.

The scientific output of Dr Fernandez-Ruiz is outstanding. He has published more than 250

articles in peer-reviewed journals, including original articles, editorials, review articles and letters

of the editor; in a substantial number of these works Dr Fernandez-Ruiz acted as the first author.

Some of these articles have been published in high-impact factor journals, such as Clinical

Infectious Diseases or the American Journal of Transplantation. Thanks to these publications, Dr

Fernandez-Ruiz has participated in the writing of national guidelines for the management of CMV,

Aspergillus, Candida, donor-derived, and multidrug-resistant bacterial infection in transplant

recipients.

Overall, Dr Mario Fernandez-Ruiz is a talented, motivated, and enthusiastic clinician with a profound knowledge in clinical infectious diseases and in methodology of clinical research. Last, he has an open and easy personality, for which he is seen in great esteem by his pairs. He is undeniably recognized as one of the most promising transplant infectious diseases clinicians and scientists in Spain, and internationally. 


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