Howard Shuman received his undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in Microbiology where he studied glucose catabolism in Burkholderia cepacia. He did graduate work at Harvard Medical School with Jon Beckwith and at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, where he helped to identify the gene products of the maltose transporter of E. coli using LacZ gene fusions. He received a Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry for this work in 1980. He did postdoctoral work on the maltose transporter at the Harvard Biological Laboratories as a Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund Fellow. He joined the faculty of the Department of Microbiology at Columbia University in 1982. His laboratory at Columbia continued to work on the molecular genetics and biochemistry of the maltose transporter for several years. In 1984 his lab started to investigate the virulence determinants of Legionella pneumophila, an environmental gram-negative organism that causes a severe and often lethal pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease. His lab developed several genetic approaches for studying microbial pathogens and reported the first genome sequence for L. pneumophila in collaboration with the Columbia Genome Center.
In July 2010, Professor Shuman joined the University of Chicago, Department of Microbiology and became the Director of the Howard Taylor Ricketts Laboratory, a state-of-the-art Biosafety Level 3 facility located at the Argonne National Laboratory. His lab will continue to focus on the cell biology, genomics and genetics of Legionella’s interactions with human and protist hosts. He will also begin a new program at the Ricketts Lab to study host factors that are required for infection of cells by Coxiella burnetii, the agent of Q fever. The overall aim of this project is to develop host-directed therapies to control infections.
Professor Shuman’s work has been recognized by several awards and honors including the Max Planck Research Award from the Alexander v. Humboldt Society and a Faculty Research Award from the American Cancer Society. He is a Fellow of the AAAS and the American Academy of Microbiology. In 2007-2008 he was a Lady Davis Foundation Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University and has presented several keynote lectures at national and international meetings.