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UMSOM Researcher Elected as Fellow to American Academy of Microbiology

March 06, 2019 | Joanne Morrison

Richard Y. Zhao, PhD

Dr. Richard Y. Zhao Recognized for His Work in Virology

Richard Y. Zhao, Ph.D., Professor of Pathology and Associate Member of the Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), has been elected as a Fellow to the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM). AAM is an honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology (ASM).

Each year, Fellows are elected through a highly selective, peer-review process, based on their scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology.

“It is my pleasure to have nominated Dr. Zhao,” said Robert Gallo, MD, The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine and Co-Founder and Director, Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of Medicine. “I extend my heartfelt congratulations. He really is a most deserving new member.”

Dr. Zhao has made key contributions in understanding HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and Zika virus, which causes birth defects through his research into host-virus interactions, viral pathogenicity, and antiviral drug development. He developed a model platform for analyzing viral proteins and viral genomes using fission yeast (Schizosaccharomyces pombe). With this unique approach, he has discovered novel viral protein function, pathogenic factors, and mechanisms of viral drug resistance. Through his work studying viral proteins in fission yeast, he discovered key Zika proteins that contribute to the deadliness and birth defects arising from Zika infection of pregnant women.

“We are delighted and proud that Dr. Zhao has received this prestigious recognition as a fellow to the American Academy of Microbiology. It is a credit to his important research contributions,” said Sanford Stass, MD, Professor of Pathology and Chair of the Department of Pathology and the Department of Medical and Research Technology.

Dr. Zhao is also Division Head of Molecular Pathology and the Director of Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory at the University of Maryland Medical Center. His clinical expertise is in the areas of gene-based diagnostics, translational genomics and individualized molecular testing for precision medicine.

About the University of Maryland School of Medicine

Now in its third century, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world -- with 43 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs; and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a distinguished recipient of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research.  With an operating budget of more than $1 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic and clinically based care for more than 1.2 million patients each year. The School has over 2,500 students, residents, and fellows, and more than $530 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments highly ranked among all medical schools in the nation in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total workforce of nearly 7,000 individuals. The combined School and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has an annual budget of nearly $6 billion and an economic impact more than $15 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine faculty, which ranks as the 8th highest among public medical schools in research productivity, is an innovator in translational medicine, with 600 active patents and 24 start-up companies. The School works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit

About the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM)

The AAM is the honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the world's oldest and largest life science organization. The mission of the Academy is to recognize scientists for outstanding contributions to microbiology and provide microbiological expertise in the service of science and the public. It fulfills its mission by election to Fellowship in the Academy, convening colloquia and oversight of ASM’s Awards Program. Over the last 50 years, over 2,500 distinguished scientists have been elected to The Academy.


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Joanne Morrison
Director of Marketing and Public Relations
Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health
University of Maryland School of Medicine
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