Marshall University Research Team Reaches 30-year Milestone in Pneumonia Study

Updated 20 weeks ago

Huntington – A research duo at Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine has dedicated their lives to studying the impact of pulmonary diseases.

For more than 30 years, Maurice A. Mufson, M.D., MACP, and Ronald J. Stanek, M.S., have worked as a team in the microbiology research laboratory in the school’s Department of Internal Medicine. Since 1989, Mufson and Stanek have conducted research related to community-acquired pneumonia, especially invasive Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcal) pneumonia, and the impact of the pneumococcal vaccinations PNEUMOVAX 23 and Prevnar 13 among subsections of Appalachian populations.

Although there are more than 90 types of pneumococcus, community-acquired pneumonia is the most common clinical presentation. Contracted in the community, rather than in a hospital setting, community-acquired pneumonia accounts for 90 percent of pneumonia cases in Huntington, Mufson said. Invasive pneumococcal pneumonia occurs when the pneumococcus enters the blood, and it represents a more serious illness.

“Pneumonia is very much a community health issue,” said Mufson, professor and chair emeritus, who joined the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine faculty in 1976. “Its impact lasts decades and can result in shortened life span. The truly interesting part of our research is the difference between someone who has had the pneumonia vaccine and someone who hasn’t.”

During the past three decades, Mufson has published more than 220 articles. Together, he, Stanek and various other coauthors have published 33 articles highlighting their findings.

“In the 30 years we’ve worked together, we have had a front-row seat to observe the pneumococcus’s role in community-acquired pneumonia and its response to penicillin as the antibiotic of choice. Over time, the pneumococcus became resistant not only to penicillin, but also to other antibiotics,” Stanek said. “We also witnessed an incredible reduction of illness in children following routine immunization of infants and children with pneumococcal vaccine. There seems to be a never-ending evolution to pneumococcal disease.”

As a follow-up to this continuous body of research, they also turned their attention to the study of years of potential life lost for those who survived an episode of invasive pneumococcal pneumonia. Using the state’s life expectancy tables, they calculated an average 10 years of life lost for those who survive invasive pneumonia.

Mufson and Stanek continue to contribute valuable research to academic medicine. The team compiled data from 1983 to 2014 on invasive pneumococcal pneumonia in the community and currently are processing data from 2014 to 2019 to add, which will make this the longest longitudinal study of its kind.

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