Title: Retired Microbiologist, Immunologist, Physician
Company: Emory University School of Medicine
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
John K. Spitznagel, MD, FACP, retired immunologist and microbiologist at Emory University School of Medicine, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Doctors for dedication, achievements, and leadership in microbiology.
Dr. Spitznagel is a professor emeritus of microbiology and immunology at Emory University School of Medicine and a former advisor to the National Institutes of Health best-known for his groundbreaking work in bacteriology and infectious disease research. Born and raised in an area stricken by significant waves of scarlet fever, meningitis, and tuberculosis, Dr. Spitznagel developed an early interest in medicine that was cemented by his own experience with appendicitis at age 11. An alumnus of Columbia University, Dr. Spitznagel earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1943 and his Doctor of Medicine in 1946. He completed his medical internship at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1946 and a residency in internal medicine at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, between 1949 and 1951.
After one-year terms as a visiting investigator at the Rockefeller Institute in New York and the National Institute of Medical Research in London, Dr. Spitznagel became a member of the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. From 1957 until 1979, he was a professor of microbiology and infectious diseases at the University of North Carolina, and he served as a consultant to the North Carolina Memorial Hospital for much of the 1970s. Dr. Spitznagel served as Chair of the National Institutes of Health Study Section on Bacteriology and Mycology from 1977 until 1979 when he became a professor and chair of the department of microbiology and immunology at Emory University, a position he considers to be a career highlight. He was granted professor emeritus status in 1993, but remained active with Emory University, serving as associate dean of research in 1997 and 1998. In 2002, he helped co-found the Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center in Jasper, Georgia, where he continued to see patients as an attending physician until 2012.
Dr. Spitznagel was the first scientist to demonstrate cationic antimicrobial proteins in leukocyte granules and was the co-discoverer of an antimicrobial cationic protein in polymorphic granules, among other significant discoveries. He is the former associate editor of the Journal of Immunology, the Journal of the Reticuloendothelial Society, and Infection and Immunity, and the namesake of the Emory University Spitznagel Lectureship on Host Antimicrobial Defense. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and the Infectious Disease Society, and a former president of the American Medical School Microbiology and Immunology Section and the Reticuloendothelial Society. In recognition of his contributions to the field of microbiology and infectious disease, Dr. Spitznagel was presented with a Research Career Development Award from the United States Public Health Service as well as the University of North Carolina School of Medicine’s Distinguished Service Award. In his retirement, Dr. Spitznagel enjoys watercolor painting and sketching.
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