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Dr. Andrew Onderdonk '69

Photo of Dr. Andrew Onderdonk.

MacMurray College contributed a great deal to my future success. First and foremost, I received an excellent liberal arts education. Secondly, I had wonderful mentors in the biologic sciences - Dr. Herbert Sierke and Dr. Richard Freiburg. They challenged me to perform at a high level and always supported my interests in biologic research. Perhaps the most important contribution that MacMurray made to my career was to allow me to understand and achieve my intellectual potential. While facing the many challenges that occur during an undergraduate education, I gradually realized that I could meet the challenges and go on to even greater ones.

Dr. Andrew B. Onderdonk graduated from MacMurray College in 1969 with a bachelor of arts degree in biology. He was a member of the soccer team, in which he lettered and was a Varsity "M" member. After graduation, he attended the University of Missouri where he received his master's degree in 1971 and his PhD in 1973, both in microbiology. He conducted postdoctoral work as a pubic health service fellow in the Department of Medicine for the University of California - Los Angeles, working in the Infectious Diseases Service.

Onderdonk served as assistant professor of medicine, microbiology, and veterinary medicine beginning in 1977 at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1981, he began work as an associate professor in Tufts' department of comparative medicine, microbiology and pathology. Then in 1984, while working at Tufts, he began as a lecturer at Harvard University and in 1990 became associate professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School. In 1999, he was promoted to the rank of full professor at Harvard Medical School and was awarded an honorary master's degree from Harvard University.

His professional positions and appointments include work throughout Boston at Tufts New England Medical Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Channing Laboratory. He has served as a consultant to Scott Laboratories; Upjohn Pharmaceutical; Veterans Administration Central Office Research; Canadian Research Council in Toronto, Canada; Labline Industries; SmithKline Beecham; Proctor and Gamble; and Genzyme Corporation and Osmetech Ltd. in Crewe, England. He has also been involved with Alpha Beta Technology and the Museum of Science in Boston. In 1999, he was elected editor-in-chief for the Journal of Clinical Microbiology. In 2003, he was asked to serve as the principal investigator for Harvard Medical School Biodefense Laboratory, whose aim is to develop better diagnostic tests, vaccines, and therapeutic agents as part of a federal government initiative to provide better protection against agents that may be used as biologic weapons.

His work has included numerous major grants, postdoctoral fellows trained, and presentations given in Puerto Rico, Holland, Spain, Canada, Germany, and Thailand. He was the founder of the Society for Microbial Ecology and Disease and the co-founder of the International Society for Anaerobic Bacteria. His bibliography includes over 100 original published articles, numerous reviews, and abstracts. His current research is focused on the study of the human microbiome, in collaboration with the Broad Institute at MIT, and the role of the neonatal intestinal microflora in the development of atopic responses in children. Onderdonk also recently completed a chapter for Harrison's Textbook of Medicine, the most widely used reference text for physicians in the world. He holds several patents and has been listed in Marquis Who's Who in the World in 2008.

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