Hooked on ID with C. Buddy Creech, MD, MPH
I was the intern on call for the pediatric oncology service at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital when my mother called with news that my father had experienced a stroke. My colleagues covered the service while my wife and I drove quickly to my hometown a few hours away. My dad had, indeed, experienced a large middle cerebral artery stroke, but curiously he was also highly febrile (40.5C). In the hours and days to follow, we would learn that he had a large mitral valve vegetation, that he had group B Streptococcus bacteremia and that he would not survive the event.
As a second-year pediatric resident, I rotated on the pediatric ID service. I helped care for an infant who was neurologically devastated from meningitis despite receiving antibiotics within close to an hour after his first signs of illness at home. His pathogen — group B Streptococcus.
Despite these formative experiences, I do not study group B Streptococcus disease; rather, my career path has been marked by training in Staphylococcus aureus colonization and disease, clinical trials of influenza vaccines, evaluation of novel adjuvants, use of novel techniques to measure human immune responses and early-phase clinical trials of vaccines targeting influenza, pertussis, malaria, and S. aureus. Over the last 20 years, I’ve learned at least three things. First, our ultimate career paths are the result of a complicated “prime-boost” strategy that we experience in our training. I am no doubt a pediatric ID physician because of early experiences in medical school and residency training. Second, a career in pediatric infectious diseases provides a unique way to promote health across the globe as we seek to prevent, diagnose and treat infections that affect rich and poor, young and old, educated and uneducated. Third, the role of mentorship cannot be underestimated because those who provided the various “primes” and “boosts” were my heroes in the field (Jim Dale, Keith English, Terry Dermody, Kathy Edwards, and many others).
Not everyone is called to be an ID physician; however, for some of us, it is the inevitable result of our experiences along the way.
— C. Buddy Creech, MD, MPH
Associate professor of pediatrics
Director, pediatric ID fellowship program
Director, Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine