Appointed President of the Pan American Society for Clinical Virology in July 2022 for a two-year term, Dr. Esther Babady of Congo is a clinical microbiologist specializing in the molecular diagnosis of infectious diseases.
The Pan American Society of Clinical Virology is an organization that promotes the scientific development and medical practice of viral diagnostic tests. It also strives to improve understanding of all aspects of human viral diseases, including human viral biology, disease manifestations, pathogenesis, immunity, epidemiology, treatment and prevention.
Dr. Esther Babady has worked for fourteen years at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York City. A center for cancer treatment and research, founded in 1884 in this city, USA. It has ranked in the top two “Best hospitals for cancer” every year since U.S. News & World Report began ranking hospitals in 1990. Since April 2021, she has been Director of the Department of Clinical Microbiology at MSKCC, Director of the Clinical Microbiology Fellowship Program, a two-year fellowship program for postdoctoral level candidates (PhD, MD, DO) that is accredited by the American Society for Microbiology; Full microbiologist and professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and the Department of Medicine at MSKCC.
As Director of Clinical Microbiology at MSKCC, Esther Babady’s work falls into four categories: administration, clinical, research, and education. Her clinical and administrative responsibilities, she explained in an interview, include all aspects of running a highly complex CLIA (Clinical laboratory improvement amendments) laboratory. As Director of the Clinical Microbiology Department, she is responsible for managing and supervising sample analysis in the laboratory and provides clinical consultation regarding the ordering of diagnostic tests and the interpretation of their results. His research focuses on the development, validation and clinical evaluation of molecular tests for faster and more sensitive diagnosis of infectious diseases, with the goal of improving patient care.
Implementation of the first covid-19 test in New York
A nationally recognized U.S. leader in understanding covid-19 variants and tests, Dr. Esther Babady has leveraged her extensive expertise in clinical microbiology and molecular diagnostics of infectious diseases to prepare the Memorial sloan kettering to deal with the coronavirus and ensure the safety of employees and patients. While testing was extremely rare in early 2020, she and her team developed the first covid-19 test approved by the Food and Drug Administration of New York City. Through this test, Memorial sloan kettering was able to independently test and trace thousands of employees and patients in the metropolitan area. To further speed up the testing process and protect caregivers, his team developed a self-collected saliva test that proved equally effective in detecting the virus. When it became clear that the novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, was beginning to mutate, Dr. Esther Babady and her team took the initiative to test many variants and share this information with city health care officials. For this remarkable work, she received the “Whole health heroes” award for 2021.
Making an impact on patient care
Dr. Esther Babady holds a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and completed a CPEP Postdoctoral Fellowship in Clinical Microbiology, both at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, before joining MSKCC. She is certified by the American Board of Medical Microbiology, a member of the Infectious Disease Society of America and the American Academy of Microbiology. “I always knew I wanted my research to have an impact on patient care, but it wasn’t until my final year of graduate school that I realized a career as a clinical laboratory director. My mentor for the PhD at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Grazia Isaya, introduced me to her husband, Dr. Piero Rinaldo, who was director of clinical biochemical genetics in the Mayo Clinic’s Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology. Because of my general interest in infectious diseases, Dr. Rinaldo put me in touch with Dr. Frank Cockerill, who at the time was director of the Division of Clinical Microbiology at the Mayo Clinic. I fell in love with clinical microbiology. I’ve never looked back! “ she said, in an interview with the Association for Molecular Pathology.
Dr. Esther Babady serves on several professional committees, including the Clinical microbiology and public health leadership committee of the American Society for Microbiology and the Professional Relations Committee of the Association for Molecular Pathology. She is a senior editor at Microbiology Spectrum, a fully open access online journal that publishes research in all areas of basic, applied and clinical microbial science. She also serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Clinical Virology and the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics.
In addition, Dr. Esther Babady is an advisor to EdenRoc, a privately held biotechnology company created to support world-class life sciences start-ups. She is also a member of the External Advisory Board of RADx® Underserved Populations (RADx-UP), a consortium of 137 research projects that study covid-19 testing patterns in communities in the United States and its territories, as well as in tribal nations in the United States.
In 2017, Dr. Esther Babady received the PASCV Memorial Pioneer Award for Young Investigators, awarded in honor of individuals who have played a significant role in the founding and development of the Pan American Society of Clinical Virology (PASCV). It is awarded to a young researcher with a PhD who is less than 40 years of age or less than 10 years after obtaining their PhD, to reward an individual who has made a significant contribution to the field of clinical or diagnostic virology (either a single paper or a body of research) during the first years of their career.