UTHSCT infectious disease specialist honored by national organization of pulmonary physicians

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A physician and researcher at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler has been honored by the premiere professional society of lung specialists in the United States.

Richard Wallace, MD, professor of medicine and microbiology at UTHSCT, has been named the recipient of the prestigious CHEST 2010 Murray Kornfeld Memorial Founders Lecture by the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP).

“Dr. Wallace has made all of us at the Health Science Center very proud. His contributions to the fields of chest disease and infectious disease have been outstanding,” said UTHSCT President Dr. Kirk A. Calhoun.

"Because this award is given annually to one person out of the 16,500 members of the American College of Chest Physicians, it is both significant and unique,” he added.

Dr. Wallace will present a lecture during CHEST 2010, the 76th International Scientific Assembly of the ACCP, which will be held Oct. 30-Nov. 5, 2010, in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

This lecture was established in 1974 in memory of Murray Kornfeld, who founded the Federation of American Sanatoria – forerunner of the ACCP – in 1935.

Kornfeld, a successful entrepreneur who had tuberculosis as a young man, envisioned a professional society that would promote the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the chest through publishing a journal.

The award is conferred on a “trailblazer” – a pioneer in pulmonary and critical care medicine who is developing innovative approaches and therapies that are likely to guide medicine for decades to come.

Dr. Wallace called the award “an incredible honor.”

“I believe the award reflects the quality of research and clinical care we have provided for patients with non-tuberculosis lung disease. It also acknowledges the support I have received from The University of Texas Health Science Center over many years for what was once considered an ’orphan,’ or rare, group of lung diseases. That group of diseases is now more prevalent in the United States than tuberculosis,” added Dr. Wallace, who is board certified in internal medicine and infectious disease.

Dr. Wallace specializes in treating people with infections caused by nontuberculous mycobacteria, microbes commonly found in the soil and water.

He and his research team developed the standard treatment for one mycobacterial disease – mycobacterium avium complex, or MAC, which once was rare but now is becoming more common.

Patients from all over the United States who have MAC are referred to Dr. Wallace for treatment, as he is one of a few researchers who see patients with this disease on a regular basis.

“I’ve been studying nontuberculous mycobacteria for 35 years and have published more than 200 scientific papers on this subject,” Dr. Wallace said.

“Here at UT Health Science Center, we have the premiere laboratory in the world for identifying these bacteria and determining which antibiotics work best against them,” he added.

The ACCP is a nonprofit medical society representing 16,500 members in more than 100 countries.

Members include specialist physicians, allied health professionals, and academic researchers who study diseases of the chest.

The purpose of the ACCP is to promote the prevention and treatment of diseases of the chest through leadership, education, research, and communication.

It publishes CHEST, the leading scientific journal in the area of heart and lung disease.

For 60 years, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler has provided excellent patient care and cutting-edge treatments, specializing in pulmonary disease, cancer, heart disease, primary care, and the disciplines that support them. With an operating budget of more than $125 million and biomedical research funding that exceeds $10 million annually, UTHSCT has a major economic impact on East Texas. Its two medical residency programs – in family medicine and occupational medicine – provide doctors for many communities in East Texas and beyond.

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