Association for Molecular Pathology


October 2010, Volume 16, Number 3


Infectious Diseases Subdivision Report

David H. Persing, MD, PhD

By David H. Persing, MD, PhD
Chair, Infectious Diseases Subdivision


Recent developments in broad range PCR, deep sequencing, and nucleic acid discovery methods hold the promise to redefine the pathogenesis of many conditions, including infectious diseases. Several of the Infectious Diseases (ID) sessions at this year's AMP Annual Meeting in San Jose will highlight the impact of these technologies; specifically, how pathogen discovery efforts can have a dramatic impact on the understanding of the natural history and pathogenesis of poorly understood conditions.

In the ID Plenary Session, an update on Whipple's disease will be provided by Dr. Florence Fenollar of the University of Marseilles. Whipple's is a disease of many faces, and has been a confounding diagnosis in Rheumatology practices and GI clinics for many years. Dr. Fenollar and colleagues have done the pivotal history and pathogenesis studies of the causative organism, Tropheryma whippelii. I heard her speak last year at the European Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) meeting; her command performance will be at AMP this year.

Dr. David Fredricks from the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center has done seminal work on the microbiology of bacterial vaginosis (BV), the most common cause of vaginal discharge. His work has redefined this condition as a sort of bacterial warfare, in which lactobacillus-dominant healthy flora are overtaken by a horde of sinister anaerobes and malevolent co-conspirators. BV is one of the best examples of an infectious condition caused not by a single pathogen but by a bacterial population shift. It is a fascinating detective story.

Saturday, November 20, will be an action-packed day. The Early Bird Session will be led by Dr. Beverly Metchock from the CDC discussing recent trends in TB testing, including the new CDC guidelines and the impact they will have on your laboratory. The ID Workshop will focus on the important area of validation, implementation, and quality control for quantitative nucleic acid detection methods, featuring AMP members Angela Caliendo and Randall Hayden. For those of you involved in the important task of viral load testing, there will be an abundance of practical information here. This is your chance to get fully up to speed.

The ID Subdivision will co-sponsor a special topic during the Saturday afternoon Plenary Session. The session involves the emerging role of infections in cancer, a topic that should appeal to the AMP membership at multiple levels. Maura Gillison, will discuss the important prognostic role for detection of HPV in head and neck cancers. Joseph Derisi will discuss the use of the "virochip" for discovery of new virus classes in human cancers and other conditions. His work has been published in many top journals recently and his presentation is not to be missed. You should plan on staying through to the end of the meeting.

We are looking forward to an outstanding meeting and hope to see you at the ID sessions.