Hancock, Robert Ernest William (1949- )

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Hancock, Robert Ernest William (1949- )

English bacteriologist

Robert (Bob) Hancock is a bacteriologist and professor of microbiology in the department of microbiology and immunology at the University of British Columbia (U.B.C.) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He is internationally renowned for his fundamental contributions to the study of antibiotic resistance of Gram-negative bacteria , particularly the antibiotic resistance of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Hancock was born in Merton, Surrey, England. Following his undergraduate education he obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Adelaide in Australia in 1974. Postdoctoral training followed at the University of Tübingen (19751977) and at the University of California at Berkeley (19771978). In 1978, Hancock became an assistant professor in the department of microbiology and immunology at U.B.C. In 1983, he became an associate professor with tenure, and became an associate member of the department of Pediatrics at U.B.C. (which has continued to the present day). In 1986, he became a professor at U.B.C.

From 1989 until 1996, he was the first Scientific Director of the newly established Canadian Bacterial Diseases Network. Under his direction, the network of academic and applied microbiologists and molecular biologists made fundamental discoveries of the mechanisms of bacterial infection . Presently, he is a board member of the network. From 1990 until 1993, Hancock was the Chair of the Medical/Scientific Advisory Committee of the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Finally, beginning in 1997, Hancock has been the Director of the Centre for Microbial Diseases and Host Defense Research at UBC.

Hancock has served on the editorial boards of ten international peer-reviewed journals and his expertise in bacterial pathogenesis and antibiotic resistance is utilized in a consultative and directorial role in a myriad of government and industrial settings.

Through his research, Hancock has revealed some of the molecular aspects of the mechanisms by which Pseudomonas aeruginosa is able to cause disease or death, particularly in those afflicted with cystic fibrosis. His research has determined the structure of some outer membrane proteins that functions as transport pores. Additionally, he is among the group that has completed the sequencing of the genome of the bacterium. The latter work will lead to further discoveries of genes that are vital in disease processes.

Hancock's best-known research has been the unraveling of what is termed the "self-promoted uptake" of aminoglycoside, polymyxin and cationic antibiotics and antimicrobial peptides. This uptake is a major reason for the acquisition of antibiotic resistance by the bacterium, and so will be the target of treatment strategies.

In recognition of his fundamental contributions to bacteriology, Hancock has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Canadian Society of Microbiologists Award in 1987, the 125th Anniversary of Canada Silver Medal in 1993, inclusion in the American Men and Women in Science, 19892000, and the MRC Distinguished Scientist Award, 19952000.

See also Bacterial adaptation; Infection and resistance

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Hancock, Robert Ernest William (1949- )

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