Karen Bush, Professor of Practice in Biotechnology, has received the highest award given by the International Society of Chemotherapy for Infection and Cancer. The Hamao Umezawa Memorial Award recognizes outstanding contributions in antimicrobial chemotherapy. Bush, a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, is the first woman to win the award. She has pursued antimicrobial research since earning her Ph.D. in biochemistry at IU in 1970 . Her work has focused on describing antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria, in order to guide new drug discoveries. Her scientific teams have identified and/or developed five marketed antibiotics: aztreonam (Azactam), piperacillin-tazobactam (Zosyn), levofloxacin (Levaquin), doripenem (Doribax), and the anti-MRSA cephalosporin ceftobiprole (Zeftera), and nine additional antimicrobial drugs that entered into human clinical trials.
“When I entered the pharmaceutical world in the 1970s,” says Bush, “there were no females in management positions. We were considered to be good ‘bench scientists’ but not leadership material. I was fortunate to work for directors who valued the scientific input of good bench scientists, and allowed us to lead small groups and publish our research. As we became recognized scientifically, we also gained in leadership status. Several of my colleagues have now gone on to serve in major management roles in the biotechnology sector, an area that is somewhat more willing to allow females to assume both key administrative and scientific roles.”
The award, established in 1979, includes a monetary prize and the opportunity to deliver the keynote address at the International Congress of Chemotherapy for Infection in November.