Dr. Richard Wallace specializes in research, treatment of little-known, common microbes that can cause disease

Monday, May 15, 2006

Richard Wallace, MD, professor of medicine and microbiology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, specializes in treating people with infections caused by nontuberculous mycobacteria, common soil and water microbes. Physicians from research institutions such as Johns Hopkins and The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center send samples of mycobacteria to Dr. Wallace’s lab to be identified and tested for their susceptibility to antibiotics.

Nontuberculous mycobacteria can make people sick, especially people with impaired immune systems or those who have breaks in their skin that allow mycobacteria inside. For example, mycobacteria can be inhaled and cause lung infection. They are hard to kill, because they have thick, fat-filled cell walls that protect them from many antibiotics.

Dr. Wallace and his research team developed the standard treatment for one mycobacterial disease – mycobacterial avium complex, or MAC. Though MAC used to be rare, its incidence in the United States is increasing. Patients from all over the United States who have it are referred to Dr. Wallace for treatment. Many patients with cystic fibrosis who are fighting lung infections also are referred to him. Dr. Wallace is board certified in internal medicine and infectious disease.

Dr. Wallace received his medical degree at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston in 1972. He completed a fellowship in infectious diseases at the Channing Laboratory of Harvard Medical Service at the Boston City Hospital. Dr. Wallace then returned to Baylor, where he was a National Institutes of Health trainee in infectious diseases. He is chairman of Infectious Diseases at UT Health Science Center, as well as an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Baylor.

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