University of Vermont

Shen Named Pew’s Biomedical Researcher of the Month for July

Aimee Shen
Pew Scholar and Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Aimee Shen, Ph.D. (photo by Ed Neuert)

University of Vermont microbiologist and molecular geneticist Aimee Shen, Ph.D., was named The Pew Charitable Trusts’ biomedical researcher of the month for July, in recognition of her creative research on the bacterium Clostridium difficile (C. diff), a health care-associated infection that causes thousands of diarrhea-related deaths every year in the United States. Shen was named a Pew Scholar in 2012.

An assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, Shen focuses her research on the germination process of the hardy spores formed by the C. diff bacteria form. By gaining a clearer understanding of the process by which the spores become infectious bacteria again, she hopes to aid in the development of new therapeutic tools to block it.

Shen’s story is part of Pew’s ongoing biomedical researcher of the month series that highlights projects being conducted by Pew-sponsored scientists. Since 1985, Pew’s biomedical programs have provided funding to more than 500 early-career investigators who, like Shen, show outstanding promise in science with the potential to advance human health. The scholars’ exceptional research has earned them Nobel Prizes, Lasker Awards, MacArthur Foundation “genius” grants and other distinctions.

Shen joined the UVM College of Medicine faculty in 2011. She received a B.S. in microbiology from the University of Alberta, a doctoral degree in microbiology from Harvard University, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University.

Pew’s biomedical programs include the Pew scholars and the Pew Latin American fellows programs. View Shen’s video profile, titled “One Researcher’s Quest to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections,” on the Pew Charitable Trusts Health Initiatives website.

(This article was adapted from a media advisory produced by Chelsea Toledo of the communications office at The Pew Charitable Trusts.)