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    HISTORY OF THE SOUTH CENTRAL BRANCH

     

    The following history of the South Central Branch of the American Society for Microbiology was adopted from the great work of Drs. Marion Socolofsky and Johannes Stortz. The document titled “A Half Century of Progress in Microbiology” was compiled and published in 1997 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of our branch. We are very grateful for their wonderful contribution to the branch.

    The South Central Branch of the American Society for Microbiology was founded on July 7, 1947. On this date, the Council of the Society of American Bacteriologists approved our branch as the twenty-fourth of the society. The initial efforts to establish a branch were undertaken by Dr. Charles Shelton McCleskey, who joined Louisiana State University (LSU) at Baton Rouge in 1937 as Associate Professor of Bacteriology. Dr. McCleskey’s early efforts to create a regional unit were interrupted by World War II when he was called to active duty as Chief of Bacteriology and Serology in an Army hospital in France. In 1946 he returned to LSU, where he reinitiated action to establish a branch. Dr. McCleskey teamed up with Dr. Morris F. Shaffer, Head of the Department of Pathology and Bacteriology of the Tulane University School of Medicine, and with Dr. Jerome T. Syverton, Head of the Department of Microbiology of the LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans. The first meeting was held on November 8, 1947, on the campus of Tulane University. The officers were Morris F. Shaffer, Chairman; Charles S. McCleskey, Vice-Chairman; Paul Donaldson, Secretary-Treasurer; and Jerome T. Syverton, Councilor. The branch ultimately included microbiologists from Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

    Detailed accounts of the early history of the branch were formulated in 1967 by Dr. Lyman A. Magee of the Department of Biology at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi. He published a book entitled Two Decades of the South Central Branch. He also reported accounts of evolving historical developments that were published in ASM News.

    The name of the Society of American Bacteriologists was changed in 1960 to the American Society for Microbiology, and this organization had the first national meeting in the region of the South Central Branch in 1977 in New Orleans, with Dr. Harlyn 0. Halvorson serving as ASM President. The local coordinator was Dr. Richard J. O’Callaghan of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans.

    Over 700 microbiologists and medical scientists at universities, hospitals, and research institutes in the three states of the branch are members of the ASM. The yearly meetings of the branch are highly successful and play an essential role as a forum for graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and young faculty members to experience scientific meetings at the regional level. The attendance during recent branch meetings was from 300 to 450. The highest attendance was achieved at the meeting in 1994 at the LSU School of Medicine in Shreveport, which was hosted by Dr. Dennis J. O’Callaghan and Dr. Robert E. Rhoads. Dr. O’Callaghan and Dr. Richard J. Courtney initiated in 1986 the current practice of joining the yearly branch meetings with those of the Midsouth Biochemists. The highly successful meeting of 1986 also included members of the Texas Branch. A joint meeting of our branch with the Southeastern Branch was held at Perdido Beach, Alabama, in 1989, and was arranged by Dr. E. J. Shannon of the Gillis W. Long Hansen’s Disease Center in Carville, Louisiana, and Dr. David O. Wood of the Medical School of Mobile, Alabama.

    The department with the highest undergraduate enrollment and the most graduate students who have earned M.S. or Ph.D. degrees during the last fifty years is the Department of Microbiology at LSU. Other large departments emphasizing microbiology, immunology, virology, and parasitology are at the five medical schools in the region: the LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans; the LSU School of Medicine in Shreveport; the Tulane University School of Medicine; the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. In addition, the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Parasitology of the School of Veterinary Medicine at LSU in Baton Rouge and a group at the School of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University in Starkville have programs in instruction and research on agents causing infectious diseases of animals.

    Important programs of instruction in microbiological sciences have been maintained by faculty of the Department of Microbiology and Biochemistry of Northwestern State University at Natchitoches, Louisiana; of the Department of Environmental Sciences and Microbiology at McNeese University in Lake Charles, Louisiana; and of the biology departments at Southern University in Baton Rouge, at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, at University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette, at Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe, at Xavier University in New Orleans, at Grambling University in Grambling, Louisiana, at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, at Mississippi State University in Starkville, at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, and at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and in Little Rock.

    Microbiology and its component sciences, including bacteriology, virology, immunology, and parasitology, as well as microbial genetics, generated the powerful tools of biotechnology and molecular biology. This strong foundation created by microbiologists spectacularly advanced recent scientific progress, and it remains an obligation for those interested in microbiology to reassert themselves in their larger, diversified departments and to take advantage of their strength to enhance the public awareness of the fascinating microbial world facilitating life on earth.

     

    HISTORY OF MEETINGS OF SOUTH CENTRAL BRANCH

     

    The meetings of the South Central Branch of the American Society for Microbiology represent an essential educational experience for graduate student and serve as a forum of networking and exchanging ideas among microbiologists in the region. The first meeting was hosted by the Tulane University School of Medicine in November, 1947.

    Semiannual meetings were held at Louisiana venues during the 1950’s. The University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson hosted the first meeting to be held in that state in 1960, and Dr. James Bryant invited the members of the branch to Southern University in Baton Rouge in 1966. Printed proceedings containing abstracts of presentations were available for the first time in 1973. The first annual meeting in Arkansas was organized by Dr. Almen L. Barron of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock in 1976 and thereafter the branch continued to hold only one two-day meeting per year. The meetings were held during recent years in conjunction with the Midsouth Biochemists.

     

    RECENT MEETINGS OF THE SOUTH CENTRAL BRANCH

    ⦁    1983 Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
    ⦁    1984 University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR
    ⦁    1985 McNeese State University, Lake Charles, LA
    ⦁    1986 Louisiana State University Medical Center, Shreveport, LA
    ⦁    1987 Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, LA
    ⦁    1988 Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
    ⦁    1989 Perdido Beach, Florida (Inter-Branch Meeting)
    ⦁    1990 University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR
    ⦁    1991 University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS
    ⦁    1992 Mississippi State University, University, MS
    ⦁    1993 Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
    ⦁    1994 Louisiana State University Medical Center, Shreveport, LA
    ⦁    1995 University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR
    ⦁    1996 Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA
    ⦁    1997 University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS
    ⦁    1998 University of Alabama, Montgomery, AL
    ⦁    1999 Louisiana State University Health Science Center, New Orleans, LA
    ⦁    2000 University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR
    ⦁    2001 Louisiana State University Veterinary School, Baton Rouge, LA
    ⦁    2002 University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS
    ⦁    2003 Tulane University Health Science Center, New Orleans, LA
    ⦁    2004 Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS
    ⦁    2005 University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Lafayette, LA
    ⦁    2006 Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, Baton Rouge, LA
    ⦁    2007 University of Arkansas at Little Rock, AR
    ⦁    2008 University of Texas, Austin, TX
    ⦁    2009 Nicholls State Univeristy, Thibodaux, LA
    ⦁    2010 The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS
    ⦁    2011 The University of Louisiana at Monroe, Monroe, LA
    ⦁    2012 Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS
    ⦁    2013 Joint Meeting with Texas Branch at Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
    ⦁    2014 University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR
    ⦁    2015 The University of Southern Mississippi , Hattiesburg, MS
    ⦁    2016 University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Lafayette, LA
    ⦁    2017 University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR
    ⦁    2018 University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS

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    The South Central Branch of the American Society of Microbiology is dedicated to the advancement of microbiological sciences as a vehicle for understanding life processes and to apply and communicate this knowledge for the improvement of health, environmental, and economic well-being worldwide.

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