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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 30, 2003

UI Microbiologist Wins Prestigious Award

Timothy Yahr, Ph.D., assistant professor of microbiology in the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa, will receive the prestigious Merck Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award from the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and the American Academy of Microbiology. The award will be presented at the ASM annual meeting in May in New Orleans, La.

The Merck Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award recognizes and rewards excellence in basic research in medical microbiology and infectious disease. The award is presented in memory of Irving S. Sigal, who was instrumental in the early discovery of therapies to treat HIV/AIDS.

Yahr is one of two recipients of this annual award made to early-career microbiologists who are no more than three years beyond their postdoctoral research training. The award includes a $2,500 cash prize and will be presented at a special awards banquet on Monday, May 24.

Yahr's research focuses on investigating the protein machinery used by Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria to inject toxins into host cells. This process allows the bacterium to evade host immune defenses and spread from the original site of infection. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a major source of infections in patients with cystic fibrosis and in those requiring mechanical ventilation.

The bacterium's protein machinery, which functions like a hypodermic needle, is collectively known as a type III secretion system. Yahr's research aims to define the signaling pathways that allow Pseudomonas to specifically deploy the type III secretion system during infections. He also aims to develop a vaccine targeting the type III secretion system.

Yahr received his bachelor of science degree in biology from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and masters and doctoral degrees in microbiology from Medical College of Wisconsin. He joined the UI faculty in 2001.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5141 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

CONTACT: Jennifer Brown, (319) 335-9917

PHOTOS/GRAPHICS: A photo of Timothy Yahr is available for downloading at