Greetings Microbiology Community,
I come to you today with a special announcement. Thirteen years after my dad first approached me with the idea of building the ASHEX table, the 1000th Gram-negative, non-fermenting clinical isolate was recorded this past week. The additional biochemical results are stored in the brand new ASHEX18XB Web Identification Program, which has now replaced the link in the menu at the top of the page.
The corresponding ASHEX18X matrix will be available for download shortly in the Non-Fermenter ID section of the site, and it represents everything my dad put into this field and more. When my father passed away in November, we had 932 isolates recorded in the table. After visiting his office, I found an additional 39 isolates with identifications he had checked and approved, which brought the total isolate count to 971 in the 17X version.
There were additional mysteries uncovered. Two of his colleagues, Kathy McKinley and Joyce Tjhio had performed numerous tests on these organisms over the years, and a comprehensive comparison of biochemical, MALDI-TOF, and gene sequencing techniques had been carried out in the months prior to that November. But the stars seemed to align, and the rollout of 17X went on without a hitch.
After speaking with my dad’s successor, Dr. Amanda Harrington, she reaffirmed an effort that had been a fantasy for me. We’d get the table to 1000 clinical isolates, and now we have.
It is hard for me to put into words my feelings on this one. He should have been here for this, and he is not. But in a way, he has been here the whole time. When we were worried a 13-year-old sheet had been misplaced, Kathy would somehow find it on top of a stack in the lab. If I grew curious about a result, the answer seemed to be literally written out in his chapter of The Koneman. Every step carried a little bit of magic, and that bridge that this project forged between the worlds of physics and microbiology grew stronger with each question and answer.
It is through the strength and determination of the colleagues that loved my dad and shared in his joyous life that I can say the following to you now:
Today, ASHEX18XB is now live! The matrix represents 108 taxa with biochemical results from 1000 clinical isolates. Since the WIPs were launched in 2012, over 18500 identifications have been made with this free-to-use, open data system, and countless more identifications were made with the table in the eight years before that.
A special thank you to those at UIC, Loyola, and elsewhere that touched Dr. S’s life.
Dr. Adam P. Schreckenberger, Ph.D.