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November 23, 2015

Inaugural Gordon Archer Research Day celebrates a long, successful career on the MCV Campus

For nearly 40 years Gordon Archer, M.D., has been an important part of the MCV Campus. Throughout his career he served the VCU School of Medicine in many ways: conducting groundbreaking research, mentoring medical and Ph.D. students and coordinating research opportunities throughout the school.

Gordon Archer, M.D.

To mark Archer’s retirement in August and the long legacy he built, the inaugural Gordon Archer Research Day in Infectious Disease, Microbiology and Immunology was presented by the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Department of Internal Medicine. The event’s topics echoed the fields to which Archer devoted himself over the course of his research career by featuring presentations on a wide-range of issues, such as difficult-to-treat infections like Clostridium difficile and Staphylococcus aureus.

Archer is perhaps best known for investigating antibiotic resistant superbugs, which are linked to 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. His work began in the 1970s, when artificial devices, such as heart valves and joint replacements, were becoming infected at high rates. Archer and his team were able to identify the bacteria responsible for many of these infections, and the regimens he helped develop have become the standard treatment in the field. His work on understanding the genetic adaptations that gave rise to antibiotic resistant bacteria has had important implications for the development of new therapies.

Archer has spent nearly all of his adult life in Virginia, where he received his undergraduate degree from Washington and Lee University and his M.D. from the University of Virginia. After training at the University of Michigan, he came to the MCV Campus in 1975 and never left.

During his time in the School of Medicine he served as chairman of the Division of Infectious Disease, director of the MD-PhD program and the first-ever senior associate dean for research and research training as well as in a variety of teaching roles. Archer’s work has been published widely, and he has had a consistent record of research funding from the NIH and other organizations.

The importance of Archer’s research and his commitment to the School of Medicine was on full display during his eponymous research day. The prominence given to student presentations throughout the day honored Archer’s commitment to coordinating research opportunities for students and mentoring them in their work.

The inaugural Gordon Archer Research Day in Infectious Disease, Microbiology and Immunology spotlighted the fields to which Archer devoted himself over the course of his research career. Photo courtesy of Gonzalo Bearman, M.D., M.P.H.

“It was truly an honor to have a research day in my name and to hear research presented not only by faculty but also by trainees,” Archer said. “The quality and variety of science presented was fantastic and is a testament to the research environment in the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.”

The research showcase was organized by chair of infectious diseases Gonzalo Bearman, M.D., M.P.H., chair of rheumatology, allergy and immunology Lawrence Schwartz, M.D., Ph.D., and chair of microbiology and immunology Dennis Ohman, Ph.D.

By Jack Carmichael

Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU Medical Center
School of Medicine
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Updated: 04/29/2016