Feature

The Good, the Bad and the Infectious

In the Clinical Microbiology Research Laboratory are, from left, Dr. James M. Lieberman, Dr. Belinda Yen-Lieberman, Debra Kohn, Dr. Gary Procop, Laura Doyle, Marion Tuohy and Deborah Wilson. | Photo: Stephen Travarca

Think of it this way: Infectious agents are the bad guys—and there’s a new sheriff in town.

Gary Procop, MD, and his highly skilled posse in the Robert J. Tomsich Pathology & Laboratory Medicine Institute at Cleveland Clinic have dedicated themselves to identifying, more swiftly and more thoroughly, some of the viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites that you might find in a rogues’ gallery of microorganisms that cause infectious disease.

Dr. Procop holds the Belinda Yen-Lieberman, PhD, and James M. Lieberman, MD, Endowed Chair in Clinical Microbiology. The chair was recently established through the generosity of a couple with strong ties to Cleveland Clinic.

“When we talk about microbiology, we’re often really talking about infectious disease,” says Dr. Yen-Lieberman, whose career at Cleveland Clinic spans more than four decades. “If we can promote continued innovation in the detection of infectious disease, we can improve patient care.”

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Drs. Yen-Lieberman and Lieberman established the endowed chair in clinical microbiology held by Dr. Procop, at right. | Photo: Stephen Travarca

At Cleveland Clinic, the support of Drs. Yen-Lieberman and Lieberman is facilitating whole genome sequencing of microorganisms (useful for detecting antibiotic resistance), advanced simultaneous assessment of different genetic targets and an ambitious initiative to differentiate true pathogens from bystander contaminants in microbiology’s version of the Wild West: the microbiome.

“Better characterization of infectious agents will lead to more targeted therapy, which means there will be more cures and more patients leaving the hospital on their own two feet,” Dr. Procop says. “Philanthropy makes this work possible.”

A previous gift from Drs. Yen-Lieberman and Lieberman created a scholarship for students in the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine.

If we can promote continued innovation in the detection of infectious disease, we can improve patient care.

DR. BELINDA YEN-LIEBERMAN

Giving promotes “a positive feeling,” Dr. Lieberman says, citing a raft of studies linking philanthropy to a range of health benefits, from increased happiness to decreased blood pressure.

With their latest gift, the couple hope to spur further advances in a behind-the-scenes field. “Cleveland Clinic has a tremendous research platform in microbiology,” Dr. Yen-Lieberman says. “The endowed chair is our way of trying to keep that platform running long after we leave the scene.”

And the stakes couldn’t be higher. “Microbiology,” Dr. Yen-Lieberman says, “touches anyone who’s alive.”