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 2004.
Professor Shuman joined the University of Chicago, Department of Microbiology in July 2010. His lab continues to focus on the cell biology, genomics and genetics of Legionella’s interactions with human and protist hosts. His lab also studies resistance to environmental stresses in Coxiella burnetii. This organism is related to Legionella and causes a flu-like illness called Q-fever. Coxiella is remarkable for its resistance to desiccation. The lab also studies resistance to antibiotics and virulence in the opportunistic human pathogen, Acinetobacter baumannii.
Professor Shuman’s work has been recognized by several awards and honors including the Max Planck Research Award from the Alexander v. Humboldt Society in Germany 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.