In June, Erol Fikrig, M.D., an expert in vector-borne diseases and a pioneer in the development of a Lyme disease vaccine, was named chief of the Section of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Internal Medicine. Fikrig’s new post is the first such appointment by Jack A. Elias, M.D., chair and Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Medicine, since he became leader of the department in October, 2006.

On October 12, Fikrig was named one of 15 new “patient-oriented” investigators in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; investigators are chosen through rigorous national competitions.

Elias says that Fikrig is “one of the world’s experts” on Lyme disease and West Nile virus. A professor of medicine and epidemiology and public health, as chief Fikrig is expected to place a new emphasis on emerging infectious diseases, an effort that will add at least four new basic science, translational and clinical investigators to the 15-member section. As a Hughes investigator, he will conduct research in which information gathered at the bedside will be used to develop laboratory models to test new therapies, including vaccines against diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks.