College of

DiRita named Rudolph Hugh Endowed Chair in microbial pathogenesis

Endowed Chair

Victor J. DiRita was installed as the Rudolph Hugh Endowed Chair in microbial pathogenesis on Jan. 25 at an investiture ceremony held at Michigan State University’s Wharton Center for the Performing Arts.

DiRita came to Michigan State in June 2015 to serve as the chairperson of the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, which is affiliated with the Colleges of Natural Science, Human Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.

Prior to coming to MSU, DiRita was professor of microbiology and immunology, and associate dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies in the University of Michigan Medical School. He earned his B.S. in microbiology and public health at MSU, and his Ph.D. in biological sciences from Purdue University. DiRita did his postdoc training at Harvard Medical School before joining the faculty at U-M.

DiRita’s research is aimed at uncovering and characterizing pathogenicity mechanisms in the diarrheal pathogens Vibrio cholerae and Campylobacter jejuni. As an independent investigator his research has been federally supported since he joined the faculty at U-M in 1991.

DiRita said that he is both flattered and pleased to hold the Hugh Chair.

"The Hugh Chair is a tremendous honor for me,” DiRita said. “Dr. Hugh and I share the experience of receiving undergraduate degrees in microbiology at Michigan State, thereby connecting each of us to the great history of our field at MSU. Resources from the endowment will help support new research directions in my lab, most notably the greater application of systems-based approaches to uncovering new knowledge in microbial pathogenesis and infectious diseases.  And the endowment will help me as chair of the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics to build on my predecessors' successes at bringing outstanding scientists to Michigan State."

“We are very fortunate to have someone of Vic’s standing to occupy this important position,” said NatSci Dean R. James Kirkpatrick. “Endowed positions enable Michigan State to attract and retain the very best faculty members. Having this endowed chair to offer was critical in successfully recruiting Vic to MSU. We are thrilled that he decided to join us and look forward to great things.”

The chair was named to recognize Rudolph Hugh, who received his B.S. in bacteriology from Michigan State University in 1948, and his Ph.D. in bacteriology from Loyola University in Chicago in 1954. During the early 1950s, Hugh worked for the precursor of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and did research at Iowa State University before joining George Washington University (GWU) in Washington, D.C., in 1954. During his 35 years at GWU, he lectured graduate, undergraduate, medical and pharmacy students. Hugh was an expert on bacterial identification. He retired from GWU in 1989 as Professor Emeritus of microbiology. Hugh died in 2011.