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NIH Record - 75th Anniversary - National Institutes of Health

Sears To Give 2023 Astute Clinician Lecture

Dr. Cynthia Sears will give the Astute Clinician Lecture as part of the NIH Director’s Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series on Nov. 1 from 2 to 3 p.m. ET in Lipsett Amphitheater, Bldg. 10 and via NIH videocast. She will present “Sleuthing the Microbiome Reveals Undercover Agents of Oncogenesis.” 

Dr. Cynthia Sears

Dr. Cynthia Sears

The lecture marks the 26th anniversary of the Astute Clinician Lecture Series.

Sears is a physician, mentor and professor of medicine and oncology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her research focuses on studies to determine how the microbiota contributes to colorectal cancer. Her team studied in detail the carcinogenic bacterium, enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis (ETBF), using this organism as a model for inducing colon inflammation and carcinogenesis. 

Over time, the team identified the B. fragilis toxin gene, purified the protein (BFT) and defined its mechanism of action in vitro and established in vivo models of ETBF colitis and colon tumorigenesis. Using these models, her lab identified that ETBF induce selective immune responses in the colon and that these pathways, at least in part, contribute to colon tumorigenesis.

Sears earned her M.D. from Thomas Jefferson Medical College and completed her internal medicine residency and fellowship at the New York Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center. In 1985, she began teaching as an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Virginia before transitioning to JHU School of Medicine. 

The Astute Clinician Lecture was established in 1998 through a gift from the late Dr. Robert W. Miller and his wife, Haruko. It honors U.S. scientists who have observed unusual clinical occurrences and, by investigating them, have opened important new avenues of research. Learn more at

In-person attendance is encouraged or tune in at Continuing Medical Education credits will be available. 

Sign language interpreting services are available upon request. Individuals who need interpreting services or other reasonable accommodation should email or call (301) 594-6747.

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