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NMCSD Microbiologist Certified as a Diplomate of the ABMM

SAN DIEGO - Lt. Cmdr. Paul Graf , Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD)'s Division Head of Microbiology, Molecular and Immunodiagnostics poses in front of petri dishes for testing. In November 2013 he and 28 others from around the world were certified as American Board of Medical Microbiology (ABMM) diplomates. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean P. Lenahan\ RELEASED)

SAN DIEGO – Lt. Cmdr. Paul Graf , Naval Medical Center San
Diego (NMCSD)’s Division Head of Microbiology, Molecular and
Immunodiagnostics poses in front of petri dishes for testing. In November
2013 he and 28 others from around the world were certified as American Board
of Medical Microbiology (ABMM) diplomates. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass
Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean P. Lenahan\ RELEASED)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Sean P. Lenahan,
Naval Medical Center San Diego Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO - Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) Division Head of
Microbiology, Molecular and Immunodiagnostics, Lt. Cmdr. Paul Graf, was
certified as an American Board of Medical Microbiology (ABMM) diplomate in
November 2013, along with 28 others from around the world. 

Currently, Graf and his team at NMCSD are busy testing respiratory specimens
for influenza due to the severity of cases this season. 

Microbiology, the study of microscopic organisms, has a history that goes
all the way back to sixth century B.C. Over time it has been categorized
into various subsections such as bacteriology, microbial ecology, and
medical microbiology. NMCSD practices clinical or public health microbiology
to research infection control, conduct blood donor testing, and uses various
immunologic molecular methods for direct detection and rapid identification
of pathogens. 

Graf explained why he has interests in microbiology and why he thinks it is
important in Navy medicine.

"During my PhD, I worked on E. coli, which sparked my interest in
microbiology.  I was deployed on USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) in 2007 as part of
Partnership for the Americas, a humanitarian mission.  That got me
interested in clinical microbiology, since I had to learn firsthand how to
do clinical micro in order to support that mission," said Graf. "That
deployment made me realize I would benefit from post-doctoral training in
clinical micro, and so when the opportunity arose to apply for Duty Under
Instruction (DUINS), I did so."

The ABMM diplomate certification is for those that are judged and found
capable to direct public health and clinical microbiology laboratories.
Applicants for this certification must have a Doctorate of Philosophy,
Doctorate of Science in microbiology, or an equal degree in related sciences
accepted by the ABMM board. Applicants are also required to have experience
such as postdoctoral training and director-level laboratory experience.
Applicants must have an ongoing relationship with a clinical, public health,
or other microbiology laboratory and have devoted at least 75 percent of
their time to management, clinical, and administrative activities during
three years of recent experience. Finally, applicants must have experience
in responsibilities and skills in the clinical laboratory, interaction with
healthcare providers, management and administrative skills, research, and
teaching. 

Though the qualifications for the ABMM diplomate certification seem quite
staggering, Graf has proven himself a worthy contributor in the microbiology
field. 

 "I think my certification is important for Navy Medicine because it ensures
that the patients at NMCSD are receiving the highest quality microbiology
laboratory services," says Graf.  "In the civilian world, diplomates of the
ABMM are sought out for their expertise in clinical microbiology to direct
hospital and public health microbiology laboratories and are able to provide
the highest quality consultation services with clinicians in regards to
microbiology laboratory testing." 

NMCSD and Graf have started working on a new project under an approved
Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) in conjunction with
Nanosphere (a molecular diagnostics company) to test a new enteric pathogen
panel that detects various bacteria and viruses that cause diarrhea,
including Salmonella, Shigella, Shiga-toxin producing E. coli, norovirus and
rotavirus for submission to the FDA.  This new product, Graf explained, will
help process lab results and cultures in a few hours as opposed to the
standard three day period.

Graf's peers spoke highly of him and what he brings to Navy Medicine with
his expertise.

"This shows that our main lab is in excellent condition having him as
division head of microbiology with this type of experience," says Capt.
Scott Luzi, NMCSD's Laboratory department head. "He provides a perspective
that most hospitals are hard to come by."

Graf explains his future in Navy Medicine and microbiology.

"I see myself going back and forth between Navy hospitals and research
commands, and hopefully continuing to put my clinical microbiology skill set
to good use in both types of commands," says Graf.  "I hope to provide a
good example to future Navy microbiologists who wish to go the same route
that I did."

Graf has a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of
Michigan at Ann Arbor, Mich., which he obtained in 2006.  He entered the
Navy after earning his PhD, then completed a Clinical Microbiology
Fellowship at University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, N.Y., from
2010-2012 (DUINS while in the Navy), and was assigned to NMCSD later in
2012. He previously worked exclusively in research laboratories in the Navy
publishing seven scientific articles based on work that he has done in the
Navy and he hopes to publish many more in both clinical microbiology and
research microbiology.

For more information about Naval Medical Center San Diego, visit
www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcsd, www.facebook.com/nmcsd, or
www.twitter.com/NMC_SD.  
For more news from Naval Medical Center San Diego, visit
www.navy.mil/local/sd/.

 

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