VA NY Harbor Health Care System
Lifetime Achievement Award
Thursday, August 29, 2013The VA Society for Practitioners of Infectious Diseases (VASPID) will present its Lifetime Achievement Award to Michael S. Simberkoff, M.D, Executive Chief of Staff, VA New York Harbor Healthcare System (VANYHHS) on October 4 in San Francisco, CA. Dr. Simberkoff is only the third physician to receive this award.
Dr. Simberkoff's career in Infectious diseases both as a clinician and researcher began with his service in the Navy in 1964. As a young physician, he was assigned to the Infectious Disease research program at the Naval Medical Research Institute at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. "I loved my work at NMRI because it combined lab and clinical research," said Dr. Simberkoff. Upon honorable discharge from the Navy, Dr. Simberkoff completed his Internal Medicine residency training and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases. He then accepted a position as a Research Associate in the Infectious Diseases Section, Medical Service at what was then the New York VA Medical Center.
At this early stage of his career, Dr. Simberkoff concentrated on prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, including early research studies with the Hepatitis B vaccine and pneumococcal vaccine. However, with the onset of the HIV epidemic in New York, he became a pioneer in the diagnosis and treatment of that infection, helping to found the first clinical and research center for HIV in the VA system. Dr. Simberkoff served on the VA Central Office (VACO) Advisory Committee that dealt with disseminating knowledge and treatment guidelines as it spread from epicenters on the East and West coasts throughout the country. He co-chaired a VA Cooperative Study that helped define the optimum time to initiate the first anti-retroviral therapy (AZT, zidovudine) for HIV infected patients. Over the years, Dr. Simberkoff's work as a clinician and researcher has touched on treatment and prevention of many of the infectious diseases that were first recognized and/or dominated the field during the latter part of the 20th Century and the beginning of the new millennium. These diseases would include malaria and other parasitic infections in Veterans returning from Vietnam, Hepatitis, HIV, Legionnaire’s disease, Staphylococcus aureus infections, fungal endocarditis, C. difficile infections, Lyme disease, shingles, influenza and other respiratory infections.
"Every year we've faced new challenges in Infectious Diseases", said Dr. Simberkoff. "I was there at the beginning of many of them. My major interest is in prevention of infections with vaccines, and treatment of them with antibiotics, anti-viral drugs, and anti-fungal agents. There is no end to the challenge of infectious disease and it remains an exciting field for those who are interested in clinical medicine and research."
Dr. Simberkoff has served in many positions at this facility including Research Associate and Clinical Investigator in the Research Service. Dr. Simberkoff also served as Staff member and Section Chief of the Infectious Diseases Section, Associate Chief of Staff for Research and Development, Chief of Staff of the New York VAMC from 1997-1999, and Executive Chief of Staff of VA New York Harbor Healthcare System since 1999. Throughout, he has continued to treat and follow patients in the ID clinic, teach residents and students as ID and medical ward attending, and pursue his research interests.