Remembering Julius “Julie” Schachter

It is with great sadness that we write to you that one of the greats of Chlamydia research, Dr. Julius (Julie) Schachter, succumbed to COVID in late December.

Julie was born in 1936 and raised in the Bronx. His father was a furrier, and his mother was a clerk at the DMV. As the first in his family to attend college, he received his undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Columbia University, a masters degree in Physiology from Hunter College, and a PhD in Bacteriology in 1985 from UC Berkeley. He did his PhD research with the famous Karl F. Meyer, who identified the agent of psittacosis (Chlamydia psittaci), and ignited Julie’s life-long passion and dedication to the study of human Chlamydia infections. Julie joined the faculty at UCSF in 1965, where he continued his 55-year association until his death in December 2020.

During his career, Julie made many seminal contributions to the field of Chlamydia, especially in the areas of epidemiology, clinical manifestations, and laboratory diagnosis. He worked and collaborated with many great clinicians and scientists at UCSF, including K.F. Meyer, Moses Grossman (pediatrician), and Chandler Dawson (ophthalmologist). In 1975, he published in JAMA the results of a clinical study suggesting that Chlamydia infection could be the most common STI. He then went on to link maternal C. trachomatis genital tract infections to newborn pneumonia, a clinical observation that led to the routine screening of pregnant women for C. trachomatis infections and prompt antibiotic treatment of infected mothers. Julie also discovered that C. trachomatis could be found not only in the conjunctival and genital tract tissues, but also in both the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, an observation that has recently regained favor and interest in our field. He pioneered the mass treatment of individuals at risk for trachoma with azithromycin, leading to effective control and hopefully eradication of trachoma. Together with Harlan Caldwell, he discovered MOMP, which was used in one of the earlier antigen detection tests and is a leading vaccine candidate. Finally, Julie led many studies on establishing the best laboratory tests for the diagnosis of C. trachomatis infections.

At the time of his death, he was working on a clinical study to develop assays to detect C. trachomatis in oral and rectal samples. Upon transfer to the intensive care unit, he remarked to his friend and long-time collaborator Tom Leitman, that “I’ve got to get out of here…I’ve got to finish these four manuscripts.” Altogether, Julie published 437 peer-reviewed papers and 125 books and book chapters. He served as editor-in Chief of the STD journal for 25 years, established in 1966 and led the highly successful quadrennial International Symposium on Human Chlamydial Infections, and was actively planning the 2022 ISHCI. Julie is predeceased by his first wife and is survived by his second wife, one daughter and two sons, and three grandsons.

For additional information about Julie, please see the New York Times obituary as well as an upcoming write-up by Max Chernesky in the journal STD.

In honor of Julie’s many contributions and indefatigable pursuit of improving our understanding, prevention, and treatment of human Chlamydia infections, CBRS is establishing Julie Schachter Trainee Travel awards to be awarded at our biennial meeting to support trainees to attend the meeting who come from labs that might not otherwise be able to afford the registration fee. Donations to this fund can be made at the CBRS website. All donations are tax deductible as allowed by law. CBRS is a 501(c) charitable organization.

Kind regards,

Joanne Engel, CBRS president
Raphael Valdivia, CBRS president-elect
Isabelle Derre, CBRS secretary/treasurer