Department of Medicine

Lucy Tompkins to Receive 2013 Stamm Mentor Award

STANFORD, Calif. , Aug. 11, 2013: Walter E. Stamm Mentor Award
Presented on Saturday, October 5 at 4:30 p.m. in the Moscone Center, Esplanade Ballroom 301-310.

Lucy Tompkins, MD, PhD, FIDSA, FSHEA, a devoted mentor, renowned microbial pathogenesis bench investigator, translational scientist, and master clinician, is the recipient of IDSA’s 2013 Walter E. Stamm Mentor Award. Named to honor the memory of a former IDSA president who was renowned for nurturing the careers of others, this award recognizes individuals who have served as exemplary mentors, and who have been exceptional in guiding the professional growth of infectious diseases professionals.

Lucy Tomkins MD, PhD
Lucy Tompkins, Lucy Becker
Professor in Medicine and of
Microbiology and Immunology
Tompkins, the Lucy Becker Professor of Medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Geographic Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, forged a career path in infectious diseases rich in the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge. Her passion for understanding the mechanisms of disease and her drive to define with accuracy and specificity the causes of poorly understood diseases and their epidemiology formed the heart of her investigative efforts.

Because of her gift in pursuing and disseminating knowledge as well as her insightful, thoughtful manner, she also drew to her students, infectious diseases fellows and postdoctoral fellows as well as the interest of her colleagues, becoming a sought-after mentor and leader. Another dimension to Tompkins’ leadership and mentorship that makes her extraordinarily special is her tenacious commitment to raising awareness of the talents of women and their contributions to the field.

Throughout her career, she has sought to know the younger women of infectious diseases, acting as a mentor, displaying a remarkable personal interest in helping them succeed. Her accomplishments, visibility, strength, unshakeable common sense, and sense of purpose have been a key source of encouragement to younger members of the Society.

At the bench, her work spanned the cellular, molecular, and genetic basis of pathogenicity and host- pathogen interactions on an amazing array of bacteria including Legionella, Campylobacter jejuni, Bartonella, and Helicobacter pylori. From this work, she formed a clear foundation for subsequent work seeking to define the mechanisms by which H. pylori causes gastric cancer.

She was the first investigator to apply molecular methods to fingerprint bacterial strains permitting the epidemiology of disease outbreaks to be elucidated. This application of molecular microbiology, initially completely novel and now routine, enabled her, with the help of epidemiologist colleagues, to identify Legionella as the cause of a cluster of sternal-wound infections and to link sporadic, community-acquired Legionaire’s disease to potable water, results published in separate New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) articles.

With time, these fundamental approaches have been widely adopted and, in principle, underpin current approaches used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in PulseNet, CalciNet, and other domestic and global infectious diseases tracking networks. Thus, her insight and vision for the use of microbial molecular tools transformed our approach to both individual outbreak investigations as well as the global approach to tracking infectious diseases.

Her work to detect for the first time Bartonella as the agent of bacillary angiomatosis, also published in the NEJM, was a brilliant extension of her use of molecular tools. This seminal paper provided a blueprint for the use of microbial molecular tools to identify the causes of chronic disease and further helped to launch the career of David Relman, MD, FIDSA, current president of IDSA.

Together, in scientific achievement and impact, she stands tall with only a few other peers in her ability to use the tools of molecular microbiology, the microbiology laboratory, and her astute observational skills to create translational knowledge that captures the attention of basic and clinical scientists, clinical microbiologists, infection control practitioners, hospital epidemiologists, public health experts, and bedside clinicians.

For Dr. Tompkins’ desire not only to see the trainee succeed but to work for the trainee fostering their academic success and independence, IDSA is delighted to recognize her with the 2013 Walter E. Stamm Mentor Award.


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