John Treanor Named Chief of Infectious Diseases Division

March 26, 2008

John Jay Treanor, M.D., professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology, has been named chief of the Infectious Diseases Division of the Department of Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Treanor, a widely recognized expert in influenza and vaccine research, will assume the post April 1. The division has been led since 1991 by Richard Reichman, M.D, who is stepping down from that role but will continue as professor of Medicine.

“John’s international stature in the world of infectious diseases makes him a leading candidate for I.D. chief anywhere in the nation,” said Mark B. Taubman, M.D., the Charles E. Dewey Professor of Medicine and chairman of the Department of Medicine. “This is one of those instances where it makes no sense to conduct a national search when you know that the best candidate to lead the division is already at your institution.

“The Infectious Diseases Division is one of our flagship divisions with an international reputation in virology and vaccine development. That matches up beautifully with John’s expertise in those areas.”

Treanor is best known for helping to lead the nation’s efforts to find a vaccine to protect against bird flu. Largely as a result of his work, last year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first vaccine to prevent the disease. Treanor led the pivotal studies that showed that large doses of the vaccine are safe and effective at protecting people against bird flu.

Treanor has long been recognized as a top researcher on the “regular” flu also. He has led investigations that show the promise of a new type of flu vaccine that could save the nation crucial months in producing vast amounts of flu vaccine on short notice. A few years ago, in the face of a flu vaccine shortage, he led a crucial study that resulted in an additional source of vaccine, helping to avert a shortage. He is also a founder of the New York Influenza Center of Excellence, part of a network of centers established by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to protect people against seasonal flu and future flu pandemics.

He has helped steer the nation’s broad vaccination policy, as a member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. For several years he also led a vaccine unit that has tested nearly every vaccine approved during the last three decades. Shortly after the 9/11 tragedy in 2001, he led a landmark study that showed that the supply of smallpox vaccine could be stretched, in case it became necessary to resurrect that vaccine in the face of a bioterror threat.

Treanor earned his bachelor’s degree from Canisius College in 1975 and his medical degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in 1979. He joined the University’s faculty in 1989, after a fellowship in infectious disease at the National Institute of Health. He serves as an editor or reviewer for several medical and scientific journals and is a fellow of the Infectious Disease Society of America. Recently Treanor was elected a member of the American Association of Physicians, an elite group of approximately 1,000 active physicians from around the world who have been so honored, including fewer than a dozen faculty members at Rochester.

Treanor takes over the division from another virologist recognized around the world for his work. Reichman is best known as one of three University of Rochester virologists, along with William Bonnez, M.D., and Robert C. Rose, Ph.D., who created key technology that is now part of the vaccine against human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer. Reichman was part of the Rochester research team that discovered how to make harmless virus-like particles that trigger an immune response to prevent infection. Now, young women across the nation are safe from cervical cancer thanks to Reichman and colleagues.

Reichman also heads the University’s AIDS research and treatment efforts and is a widely recognized international authority on the treatment of AIDS. During his career he has played a role in remarkable advances against the disease, for which patients now have more than 20 medications available for treatment. Thanks largely to Reichman, the University is the only institution in the nation to be part of the two major efforts against AIDS – the search for a vaccine, and the testing of new treatments – since their inception by the Federal government.

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