HECBC Annual Conference: Keynote Speaker

Richard F. Rest, Ph.D.

Rick RestDr. Rest is Professor of Microbiology and Immunology; Director of the Center for Bacterial Pathogenesis and Biodefense, the Institute of Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases, and; Director of Professional Development & Postdoctoral Affairs, Biomedical Graduate and Postgraduate Studies, at Drexel University College of Medicine, in Philadelphia.  Rick earned a B.S. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he studied macrophages and the intracellular bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.  He earned his Ph.D. in Bacterial Physiology from the University of Kansas, studying another intracellular pathogen Brucella abortus.  Rick?s postdoctoral studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, focused on human neutrophil bactericidal activity.  Rick?s outstanding mentors shaped his approach to research and influenced his studies on bacteria-host interactions to the present day.

Rick began his independent career in bacterial pathogenesis in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where he studied the molecular and cellular interactions of Neisseria gonorrhoeae with human neutrophils, serum and epithelial cells.  He moved to Hahnemann University ? now Drexel University College of Medicine ? where he and his students and postdocs broadened these studies to include the extracellular and intracellular lifestyles, and transcriptional regulation of virulence factor expression. In 2002, a graduate student made an observation that took the lab on a 10 year research detour; he discovered a new pore forming toxin of Bacillus anthracis, and named it Anthrolysin O.  This 10 year sojourn into an agent of bioterrorism was challenging and exciting; with a whole new set of virulence factors, and a whole new cast of characters, i.e. colleagues.  The Rest lab has now returned and refocused on the molecular virulence mechanisms of gonorrhea and meningitis. Rick is passionate about mentoring students, trainees and colleagues, is fervent about raising awareness of scientific integrity and the responsible conduct of research within the academy, and believes that good mentoring is inseparable from good science.