Robert Bonomo, Antibiotic Resistance Expert, Awarded Distinguished University Professorship

Congratulations to Robert Bonomo, MD, ARLG Laboratory Center Co-Director, who was named a Distinguished University Professor at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) during its fall convocation on August 28, 2019. CWRU awards the title of “Distinguished University Professor”— a permanent, honorific title, to acknowledge contributions of full-time, tenured faculty with exceptional records of research, scholarship, teaching, and service.

Bonomo, a professor of medicine, pharmacology, molecular biology, and microbiology at the CWRU School of Medicine, has dedicated his research career to addressing the mounting problem of antibiotic resistance. “Infections previously brought under control can resurface in resistant and more virulent new forms,” he said, “allowing disease to proliferate — potentially unchecked.”

Among his investigations, Bonomo works to uncover the genetic and amino acid determinants of bacterial enzymes that create multi-resistance to such widely used antibiotics as penicillins and cephalosporins. Nailing down these sequences and using an integrated approach can lead to new medications that overcome the antibiotic resistance, and his work is paying off. Because of his collaboration with colleagues at CWRU and elsewhere, five new antimicrobials have been approved to date. “We’re always trying to stay a step ahead of the bacteria,” he said. “Evolution rewards organisms that adapt to their environments, including those that fend off antibiotics, so there is a fundamental natural mechanism that we have to overcome.” Bonomo said his teaching and mentoring are as meaningful to him as his research. “Providing intellectual prep for the next generation helps ensure that future patients live longer, healthier lives,” he said. “Nothing can be more crucial than that.”

Read the complete article from CWRU.