Hamilton scientist wins prestigious award for ‘superbugs’ research

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Published March 28, 2023 at 1:17 pm

lori burrows mcmaster university hamilton superbugs microbiology infectious disease
Hamilton scientist Lori Burrows won a major award for her research on "superbugs" — drug-resistant infections that kill millions every year.

McMaster University’s Lori Burrows can add another major national award to her mantle thanks to her research into “superbugs” — drug-resistant infections that kill millions every year.

The Canadian Association for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (CACMID) named Burrows, associate director of McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, the recipient of its 2023 John G. FitzGerald Award for her lab’s research into Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is a prevalent drug-resistant pathogen that causes pneumonia and other hospital-acquired infections.

“There are many big problems in clinical microbiology, but antimicrobial resistance is among the biggest,” Burrows told McMaster’s Brighter World.

“My lab is focused on contributing solutions to this global problem, both by identifying potential new antibiotics and by discovering new ways to get old antibiotics to work on gram-negative bacteria, like P. aeruginosa.”

lori burrows mcmaster university hamilton superbugs microbiology infectious disease

The Burrows Lab, which supports McMaster’s Global Nexus for Pandemics and Biological Threats, is also collaborating with medical microbiologists and infectious disease experts to explore how viruses that prey on bacteria could be used therapeutically against antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

“I’m not a clinical scientist, but all of the work that we do has implications across the full microbiology spectrum,” Burrows says. “Our work spans very basic science all the way to public health policy, and the knowledge that we generate absolutely has downstream medical applications.”

Burrows has also worked tirelessly to advance the careers of women in microbiology. She used funds given for a previous national award to establish the Burrows Award for Womxn in Microbiology, which aims to recognize all women graduate students in microbiology that demonstrate both scientific excellence and a commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion.

“So many people — especially my trainees past and present — deserve credit for whatever recognition I get, so my philosophy is to pay these things forward however I can,” Burrows says.

She will receive her FitzGerald Award on March 29, 2023, at the annual CACMID meeting in Toronto.

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