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Student & Alumni Achievements

Student & Alumni Achievements

UNC Alumnus Wins American Society for Microbiology Award

Dr. James Pearson, alumnus of UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health and former director of the Virginia division of Consolidated Lab Services, in Richmond, has received the American Society for Microbiology’s Gen-Probe Joseph Public Health Award.


[Photo: UNC alumnus Dr. James Pearson (center) accepted the Gen-Probe Joseph Public Health Award at the American Society for Microbiology meeting in May. With him are ASM past steering committee chair Dr. Abraham Sonenshein (left) and ASM past president Dr. Jeffrey Miller]

Dr. Pearson earned Master of Public and Doctor of Public Health degrees in public health laboratory practice (PALP) in 1977 and 1979, respectively, from what was then the UNC School of Public Health.

The ASM presents the award to honor Dr. J. Mehsen Joseph, whose life advanced both microbiology and health, to acknowledge a microbiologist who has shown exceptional leadership and service to both fields.

From 1979 until 1992, Dr. Pearson served in various capacities in the North Dakota Department of Health, eventually becoming director of the Consolidated Laboratories Branch. In 1992, he moved to the Virginia Department of General Services, where he served for 20 years as deputy director for laboratories and director of the Virginia division of Consolidated Laboratory Services before his retirement in 2012.

“During Dr. Pearson’s tenure, he was instrumental in the strategic planning and national advocacy for the development of the Laboratory Response Network (LRN), which provides an infrastructure for integrating the public health efforts of federal, military, veterinary, and law enforcement laboratories,” said Dr. Harvey Holmes, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“As co-chair of the LRN steering committee, he was involved in developing and applying microbial methods and in providing training and testing support to many detection and surveillance programs— including the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He continues to serve on numerous advisory committees concerned with emergency response and emerging infectious diseases,” Dr. Holmes said.

Dr. Pearson accepted the award during the American Society for Microbiology annual meeting, held May 17-20 in Boston. ASM is the world’s oldest and largest life science organization, claiming more than 40,000 members worldwide. Its mission is to advance the microbial sciences and promote the use of scientific knowledge for improved health, economic and environmental well-being.

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