María V. Villegas, MD, MSc, FIDSA

  • Scientific Director, Bacterial Resistance and Nosocomial Infection, Centro Internacional de Entrenamiento e Investigaciones Medicas
  • Adjunct Faculty, Molecular Genetics and Antimicrobial Resistance Unit and International Center for Microbial Genomics, Universidad El Bosque

Biography

My career has focused on the clinical and molecular aspects of antimicrobial resistance with emphasis on Gram-negative bacteria and how to translate that knowledge into therapeutic decisions, which is now recognized as Antimicrobial Stewardship. My path to research started in 2001, shortly after finishing my training in ID, when I recognized the need for formal training in clinical microbiology. The goal was to understand basic concepts of microbiology and be able to integrate them in clinical and therapeutic decisions for better patient care. Following that path, between September 1999 and December 2000, I joined the  University of Miami, School of Medicine, where I studied the clinical aspects of Acinetobacter infections, followed by training in the lab of John P Quinn MD at the University of Illinois at Chicago, learning techniques for studying extended-spectrum β-lactamases. Subsequently, I joined CIDEIM in January 2001, with the goal of establishing a hospital national network for the study of bacterial resistance in Gram-negative bacteria (“Colombian Nosocomial Resistance Study Group”). Since then, this growing network has performed surveillance on emergent mechanisms of resistance, applied state of the art tool for molecular epidemiology and evaluated the clinical impact of bacterial resistance and healthcare-associated infections. This knowledge has provided useful evidence to hospital infection committees in the design of efficient and effective control strategies. Currently, the network comprises 31 public and private hospitals in 12 cities, and tracks antimicrobial resistance based on half-yearly data submitted by the hospitals to CIDEIM using WHONET. The information received is turned into a six-month individual report for each hospital, and includes resistance patterns of microorganisms, magnitude of multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria in different hospital areas, molecular characterization of mechanisms of resistance, antibiotic suggestions and analysis of outbreaks whenever they are suspected. These reports also allow the hospitals to compare their individual performance with prior study periods and to follow the general performance of all participating institutions. Finally, a visit to each hospital (including the infectious diseases committee) is carried out during the year in order to discuss antibiotic policies and guidelines.  The information discussed during my visit, has helped the infection prevention and control committees to take antimicrobial stewardship actions at the local level. During these research efforts the unique patterns of β-lactamases have emerged in Colombia with the characterization of novel ESBLs and carbapenemases which have become the focus of attention in our country and the rest of the world.

Education

MD
Universidad El Valle , Cali, Colombia
Residency, Internal Medicine
Universidad El Valle, Cali, Colombia
Fellowship, Infectious Diseases
University of Miami, Medical School, Miami ,FL
MSc, Microbiology
Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia
Fellowship
University of Miami and University of Illinois in Chicago