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Loyola Stritch School of Medicine names senior and junior scientists of the year

Loyola University Health System

MAYWOOD, Ill. - Mashkoor Choudhry, MPhil, PhD, professor in the Department of Surgery and Francis Alonzo, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology were named Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine's Senior and Junior Scientists of the Year, respectively.

The awards are based on scholarly productivity, service to the institution and community, professional society activities, research funding, mentoring and peer-review activities for both scientific journals and external sponsors of research funding.

Both Drs. Choudhry and Alonzo received the award November 2 during the 38th annual St. Albert's Day, which celebrates Loyola's commitment to research.

Dr. Choudhry is Director of the Alcohol Research Program at Loyola, and has studied the role of alcohol in post-burn complications for more than 20 years. Many burn and trauma victims have alcohol in their bloodstream, making this research vital in improving treatment.

In his lab, Dr. Choudhry and his team are studying the hypothesis that being exposed to alcohol increases the suppression of the immune system of the intestines and breaks down their natural barriers, resulting in harmful gut bacteria going outside of the intestines and causing sepsis (blood infection) and multi-organ failure. He is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and has published more than 180 scholarly articles.

He received his PhD in India and completed his post-doctoral training at Louisiana State University before coming to Loyola in 1992.

"To have come to Loyola as a young trainee and then be honored like this by my colleagues, I'm very humbled and honored," said Dr. Choudhry.

Dr. Alonzo came to Loyola in 2014 after completing his PhD at University of Illinois at Chicago and postdoctoral work at New York University School of Medicine. His NIH-funded research looks at the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (Sa), which causes staph infections and in some cases, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or a MRSA infection. MRSA infections are resistant to antibiotic treatment and can be deadly.

Dr. Alonzo is examining what gives Staphylococcus aureus the ability to maneuver past the body's natural defenses. Figuring out these mechanisms could help lead to non-antibiotic based and more effective treatments for staph and MRSA infections.

"The science is what I love doing. It is humbling to be recognized for that and it is exciting to feel that I am contributing to all the great science happening here at Loyola," said Dr. Alonzo.

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The Senior and Junior Scientists of the Year are nominated by faculty members and the winner is chosen by a committee.

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