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Antibiotic-Resistance Researcher Lauded for Advances in Biotechnology

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With antibiotic resistance one of the greatest threats to human health, Cal State Fullerton biological science professor Marcelo E. Tolmasky has dedicated more than 30 years to studying novel treatments in the global fight against bacterial diseases.

For his world-renowned work in molecular microbiology, his “great dedication” to mentoring students in his biotechnology laboratory on campus and creating opportunities for his protégés in science and academia, Tolmasky has been selected as this year’s recipient of the Andreoli Faculty Service Award.

The California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology
(CSUPERB) awards the honor each year to a CSU faculty member who has made outstanding contributions to the development of biotechnology programs in the CSU system. Tolmasky, who joined the Department of Biological Science in 1995, is the sixth CSUF faculty member to receive the award.

Tolmasky will be honored at Saturday’s (Jan.13) 30th annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium Awards Banquet in Santa Clara, organized and hosted by CSUPERB. The Jan. 11-13 symposium brings together CSU students, faculty and administrators, along with biotech professionals working in academia, government and industry. CSUF science and engineering students and their faculty mentors, are among attendees, with about 80 students slated to present their research. CSUF students also are front-runners for research awards, which will be announced Saturday.

Biological science professor Amybeth Cohen, the 2016 Andreoli Faculty Service Award recipient who nominated Tolmasky, called him a powerful role model for both students and faculty. “His credentials as a researcher and mentor are truly outstanding and his research has brought international recognition,” she noted.

Sean Walker, chair and professor of biological science, added that Tolmasky is the “go-to mentor” for students and has a distinguished record of professional, university and community service.

Current and former students also praise his mentorship and guidance, in which he has mentored about 90 undergraduates and graduate students. His students go on to “do great things” and virtually all of them are working in academia, biotechnology, the pharmaceutical industry or as professional scientists.

One of those students is scientist Duyen Amy Bui, ’04 (B.S. in biological science) who earned her doctorate from Harvard University. She pointed out that Tolmasky goes above and beyond to help his students succeed: “He taught me how to learn science, think independently and to stay curious, but most importantly, he helped me build up the courage to believe in myself and to aspire to strive my potential.”

Since 2004, Tolmasky has led the National Institutes of Health-supported Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training (MHIRT) program, an international summer research experience for underrepresented students. More than 150 undergraduate and graduate students from universities across the country, many from CSUF and other CSU campuses, have conducted biomedical research at such global institutions as Chiang Mai University in Thailand, the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, and the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge in England. He also has garnered more than $4.5 million in federal funding for his research efforts and the MHIRT program.

Tolmasky, who earned his doctorate from the University of Buenos Aires, received the 2001-02 Biotechnology Research Faculty Award from CSUPERB, and CSUF’s 2010 Outstanding Professor Award and 2016 L. Donald Shields Excellence in Scholarship and Creativity Award. He has authored 129 peer-reviewed articles, book reviews and book chapters, and has published three books.

In addition to Cohen, other CSUF Andreoli Award recipients are Robert A. Koch, 2009-10; Katherine Kantardjieff, 2008-09; Bruce Weber, 2000-01; and Marvin J. Rosenberg, 1992-93.