Sara Elizabeth Branham Matthews (1888–1962) was an American microbiologist and physician best known for her research into the isolation and treatment of Neisseria meningitidis , a causative organism of meningitis.
Branham was born July 25, 1888, in Oxford, Georgia to mother Sarah ("Sallie") Stone and father Junius Branham.Although education of women was not commonplace at the time, members of Sara Branham's family were firm believers in the value of education for women. Following in the footsteps of her mother (Amanda Stone Branham, 1885 graduate) and grandmother (Elizabeth Flournoy Stone, 1840 graduate), she attended Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia and graduated with a B.S. degree in biology in 1907 as a third generation alumna. She was a member of Alpha Delta Pi. With few professional opportunities offered to women with an education then, she became a schoolteacher, working for ten years in Georgia's public school system in Sparta, Decatur, and finally at Atlanta's Girls' High School. In the summer of 1917, Sara began taking classes at the University of Colorado to expand her education, but within a few weeks, she was hired by the University of Colorado in 1917 as a bacteriology teacher, since there was a shortage of men from the department during World War I. She remarked on the change of roles: "When I had had about six weeks of bacteriology, they offered me a job to teach it! " She completed a second B.S. degree at the university in 1919, majoring in chemistry and zoology, and stated that "When the war was over, I was too deep in bacteriology to ever get out again."
After finishing her degree in Colorado in 1919, she went to Chicago during the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 with a desire to enter the field of medical research. She enrolled at the University of Chicago where she would eventually complete, all with honors, a M.S. degree, a Ph.D. degree in bacteriology, and a M.D. degree.Her advisor at the university suggested that she study the etiology of influenza for her thesis. Therefore, in pursuit of her degrees at the University of Chicago, she studied filterable agents (viruses), and published over a dozen papers on the topic. This work eventually earned Branham a position as instructor in the Department of Hygiene and Bacteriology.
In 1927, Branham left Chicago and began working as an associate at the University of Rochester School of Medicine under Stanhope Bayne-Jones.Shortly thereafter, the outbreak of meningococcus arrived in California from China. Because of this, Branham's career shifted paths, and she began working for what is now the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (then, known as the Hygienic Laboratory of the United States Public Health Service) in Bethesda, Maryland as a senior bacteriologist, in order to study meningococcus. Branham stayed at the NIH for the rest of her career. She remained in the role for over 25 years until she was promoted to the Chief of Bacterial Toxins of the Division of Biological Standards in 1955.
Branham married retired businessman Philip S. Matthews in 1945.Matthews died four years later. Branham retired from the NIH in 1958 at the age of seventy from the position of Chief of the Section on Bacterial Toxins, and died November 16, 1962 after a sudden heart attack. She is buried in Oxford, Georgia in her family's plot.
Broadly, Sara Branham's research was based in the field of infectious diseases, including influenza, salmonella, shigella, diphtheria, dysentery, and psittacosis.She studied the toxins produced by Shigella dysenteriae. The main focus of Branham's work at the NIH, however, was meningitis. This focus was Branham responding to what was quickly becoming a health crisis: an untreatable form of meningitis had arrived in the United States and began spreading quickly. She is credited with the discovery and isolation of Neisseria meningitidis . Neisseria is a common causative organism of meningitis, and its taxonomy is well characterized by Branham throughout her work. She also discovered that the infection could be treated with sulfa drugs rather than antiserums that were used at the time, but that were ineffective in treating this strain. Branham was considered an international expert on the strain of disease: due to her great contributions to the knowledge about it, Neisseria catarrhalis was renamed Branhamella caterrhalis in 1970, years after Branham's death. The new name was officially accepted in the 1974 edition of Bergey's Manual of Systematic Bacteriology. Branham's studies in infectious disease were nationally known, and she came to be considered as one of the "grand ladies of microbiology". In a biographical article about Branham published in the Atlanta Constitution, the huge impact of her work was summarized in the exclamation: "She killed millions of killers!"
Alongside her busy professional life, Sara Branham played an active role in the community. She is regarded as a very influential woman that inspired those who worked with her throughout her career. She gave back to her alma mater by being an active alumna and supporter, returning for reunions and serving as alumna trustee from 1936 to 1939. She was a featured speaker for several events and gave many lectures, including two in 1960 just a couple years before she died.She was also active in many scientific societies. She contributed to what is now the American Society for Microbiology (then, known as the Society of American Bacteriologists). She was a delegate at the First and Second International Congresses in Microbiology in 1930 (Paris) and 1936 (London). She served as a diplomat on both the American Board of Pathology in the field of Clinical Microbiology and the National Board of Medical Examiners. One of Branham's colleagues remarked that Branham was equally comfortable entertaining in a chiffon dress and in a lab coat. She was known to be meticulous about her home and lawn, and was an avid ornithologist and gardener.
Branham was awarded the Howard Taylor Ricketts Prize in 1924 from the University of Chicago. Wesleyan College's Alumnae Association began recognizing the distinguished achievement of their individual alumnae in 1950.In the inaugural year, Branham was honored with Wesleyan College's first Distinguished Service Award in 1950. She later received a similar award from the University of Chicago Medical School Alumni Association. She was also awarded an honorary doctor of science from the University of Colorado, which would be the last of six total degrees she earned in her life. In 1959, she was honored as the American Medical Women's Association's Medical Woman of the Year. In a similar fashion as the honor from Wesleyan, Branham was honored in Georgia Women of Achievement's first class of inductees in 1992.
Over the course of her career, she published eighty papers and helped with the composition of many textbooks.Her papers are held at the National Library of Medicine.
A pilus is a hair-like appendage found on the surface of many bacteria and archaea. The terms pilus and fimbria can be used interchangeably, although some researchers reserve the term pilus for the appendage required for bacterial conjugation. All pili in the latter sense are primarily composed of pilin proteins, which are oligomeric.
Neisseria gonorrhoeae, also known as gonococcus (singular), or gonococci (plural) is a species of Gram-negative diplococci bacteria isolated by Albert Neisser in 1879. It causes the sexually transmitted genitourinary infection gonorrhea as well as other forms of gonococcal disease including disseminated gonococcemia, septic arthritis, and gonococcal ophthalmia neonatorum.
Neisseria is a large genus of bacteria that colonize the mucosal surfaces of many animals. Of the 11 species that colonize humans, only two are pathogens, N. meningitidis and N. gonorrhoeae. Most gonococcal infections are asymptomatic and self-resolving, and epidemic strains of the meningococcus may be carried in >95% of a population where systemic disease occurs at <1% prevalence.
The bacterial capsule is a very large structure of many bacteria. It is a polysaccharide layer that lies outside the cell envelope, and is thus deemed part of the outer envelope of a bacterial cell. It is a well-organized layer, not easily washed off, and it can be the cause of various diseases.
The Neisseriaceae are a family of Proteobacteria, within the Neisseriales order. While many organisms in the family are mammalian commensals or part of the normal flora, the genus Neisseria includes two important human pathogens, specifically those responsible for gonorrhea and many cases of meningitis. As a group, the Neisseriaceae are strictly aerobic and Gram-negative, occur mainly in pairs (diplococci), and typically do not have flagella.
Rino Rappuoli is Chief Scientist & Head of External Research and Development (R&D) at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Vaccines. Previously, he has served as visiting scientist at Rockefeller University and Harvard Medical School and held roles at Sclavo, Vaccine Research and CSO, Chiron Corporation, and Novartis Vaccines.
Neisseria meningitidis, often referred to as meningococcus, is a Gram-negative bacterium that can cause meningitis and other forms of meningococcal disease such as meningococcemia, a life-threatening sepsis. The bacterium is referred to as a coccus because it is round, and more specifically, diplococcus because of its tendency to form pairs. About 10% of adults are carriers of the bacteria in their nasopharynx. As an exclusively human pathogen it is the main cause of bacterial meningitis in children and young adults, causing developmental impairment and death in about 10% of cases. It causes the only form of bacterial meningitis known to occur epidemically, mainly Africa and Asia. It occurs worldwide in both epidemic and endemic form. N. meningitidis is spread through saliva and respiratory secretions during coughing, sneezing, kissing, chewing on toys and even through sharing a source of fresh water. It has also been reported to be transmitted through oral sex and cause urethritis in men. It infects its host cells by sticking to them with long thin extensions called pili and the surface-exposed proteins Opa and Opc and has several virulence factors.
Moraxella catarrhalis is a fastidious, nonmotile, Gram-negative, aerobic, oxidase-positive diplococcus that can cause infections of the respiratory system, middle ear, eye, central nervous system, and joints of humans. It causes the infection of the host cell by sticking to the host cell using trimeric autotransporter adhesins.
A diplococcus is a round bacterium that typically occurs in the form of two joined cells.
Meningococcal disease describes infections caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis. It has a high mortality rate if untreated but is vaccine-preventable. While best known as a cause of meningitis, it can also result in sepsis, which is an even more damaging and dangerous condition. Meningitis and meningococcemia are major causes of illness, death, and disability in both developed and under-developed countries.
The Pritzker School of Medicine is the M.D.-granting unit of the Biological Sciences Division of the University of Chicago. It is located on the university's main campus in the historic Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago and matriculated its first class in 1927. The medical school offers a full-time Doctor of Medicine degree program, joint degree programs, graduate medical education, and continuing medical education.
Dr. Margaret Jane Pittman (1901–1995) was a pioneering bacteriologist whose research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on typhoid, cholera, and pertussis helped generate the development of vaccinations against these diseases as well as others. Dr. Pittman was also the first female to lead a NIH laboratory, when in 1957, she was appointed chief of their Laboratory of Bacterial Products, a position she held until 1971. In the 1960s she was a key NIH participant in developing standards for cholera vaccine in the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization's campaign to control cholera in the region that is now Bangladesh. After her retirement in 1971, she continued to work for the World Health Organization as a consultant on vaccine standards, working in Cario and Madrid and for the State Institute for Serum and Vaccine in Iran and Connaught Laboratories, Ltd., in Toronto.
Moraxella is a genus of Gram-negative bacteria in the Moraxellaceae family. It is named after the Swiss ophthalmologist Victor Morax. The organisms are short rods, coccobacilli, or as in the case of Moraxella catarrhalis, diplococci in morphology, with asaccharolytic, oxidase-positive, and catalase-positive properties. M. catarrhalis is the clinically most important species under this genus.
Dlawer Ala'Aldeen دلاوەر عبدالعزيز علاءالدين, is the Founding President of the Middle East Research Institute, a policy-research institute, based in Arbil, Kurdistan Region of Iraq. He is a former Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research in the Kurdistan Regional Government (2009-2012) and former professor of Medicine at the University of Nottingham in the UK.. His current focus is on policy research in the fields of good governance, rule of law, national security, governance reform and promotion of human rights.
Alice Catherine Evans was a pioneering American microbiologist. She became a researcher at the US Department of Agriculture. There she investigated bacteriology in milk and cheese. She later demonstrated that Bacillus abortus caused the disease Brucellosis in both cattle and humans.
Sunetra Gupta is a novelist, and Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology at the University of Oxford with an interest in infectious disease agents that are responsible for malaria, HIV, influenza and bacterial meningitis. She is a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award.
NmVac4-A/C/Y/W-135 is the commercial name of the polysaccharide vaccine against the bacteria that causes Meningococcal meningitis. The product, by JN-International Medical Corporation, is designed and formulated to be used in developing countries for protecting populations during meningitis disease epidemics.
Jeeri Reddy an American biologist who became an entrepreneur, developing new generation preventive and therapeutic vaccines. He has been an active leader in the field of the biopharmaceutical industry, commercializing diagnostics and vaccines through JN-International Medical Corporation. He is the scientific director and president of the corporation that created the world's first serological rapid tests for Tuberculosis to facilitate acid-fast bacilli microscopy for the identification of smear-positive and negative cases. Prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV was achieved in South East Asia by the use of rapid tests developed by Reddy in 1999. Reddy through his Corporation donated $173,050 worth of Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) for malaria in Zambia and actively participated in the prevention of child deaths due to Malaria infections. Reddy was personally invited by the president, George W. Bush, and First Lady Laura Bush to the White House for Malaria Awareness Day sponsored by US President Malaria Initiative (PMI) on Wednesday, April 25, 2007.
Meningococcal vaccine refers to any of the vaccines used to prevent infection by Neisseria meningitidis. Different versions are effective against some or all of the following types of meningococcus: A, B, C, W-135, and Y. The vaccines are between 85 and 100% effective for at least two years. They result in a decrease in meningitis and sepsis among populations where they are widely used. They are given either by injection into a muscle or just under the skin.
In 1928, Neisseria flavescens was first isolated from cerebrospinal fluid in the midst of an epidemic meningitis outbreak in Chicago. These gram-negative, aerobic bacteria reside in the mucosal membranes of the upper respiratory tract, functioning as commensals. However, this species can also play a pathogenic role in immunocompromised and diabetic individuals. In rare cases, it has been linked to meningitis, pneumonia, empyema, endocarditis, and sepsis.