Gary Fahle wasn’t a star athlete and he wasn’t class president at Eastwood High
Eastwood alumnus Gary Fahle will be
School. He was the editor of the school yearbook and played saxophone in the marching band.
After graduating in 1981, he decided to study at Bowling Green State University.
“Both my parents worked at Bowling Green, so I kind of grew up with Bowling Green pretty much in the backyard,” Fahle said of his father, Dale, who was a painter, and his mother, Karen, a secretary in the BGSU personnel department. “It was kind of a logical choice, plus they have a good program in the sciences.
“I decided to go there and see where it leads me. If I needed to go somewhere else, I would have. They had everything I needed, so it kind of worked out well.”
Did it ever.
BGSU, which is celebrating its centennial this year, selected 100 of its most distinguished alumni to honor with its Centennial Alumni Award. The university chose Fahle as one of its honorees. He will attend the school’s awards ceremony April 24 at the Bowen Thompson Student Union on the BGSU campus.
Fahle, 46, who graduated from BGSU in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and medical technology and a minor in chemistry, served as an intern at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center during his final year of college.
“With a medical technician degree, you obtain a medical technician certificate and you work in a diagnostic lab in a hospital,” Fahle said. “My first job was at St. Vincent as a bench technologist. You work on cultures - blood cultures, microbiology cultures - looking for infectious diseases in patients to determine which antibiotics can be used to treat the patients.”
Fahle said he was surprised BGSU, which has nearly 154,000 alumni, picked him as one of its 100 distinguished alumni.
“They came up with a list of people they were considering last summer, and they asked me if I would submit a personal CV (curriculum vitae),” Fahle said. “I found out I was selected after the first of this year. I was very surprised, and of course honored. I really wasn’t expecting to be chosen.”
After working as a medical technologist in the microbiology department at St. Vincent, Fahle took the same position at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He began his career at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md., in 1989 as a medical technologist. He later became a supervisor at the NIH Clinical Center Microbiology Laboratory before entering molecular diagnostics research.
Fahle has been the director of the Microbiology Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory for the past two years.
“It’s a unique laboratory,” he said. “It’s not like a typical suburban-type hospital. We have one foot in the research world and one in the clinical world. We’re trying to take a lot of the new technologies being invented in the research setting and trying to bring those into a clinical laboratory and finding if they are useful in the application for the detection of diseases.”
Fahle’s work has been published in more than 20 professional journals, most notably The New England Journal of Medicine, and he has received both the NIH Director’s Award and the Clinical Center’s Director’s Award.
“I’ve always been interested in biology, and I knew I wanted to major in some aspect of biology (at BGSU),” Fahle said. “When I started taking classes, medicine was something that appealed to me and I really enjoyed my microbiology classes.
“After a couple years, I found out about medical technology and using microbiology and its application to clinical care. Taking care of patients was something that appealed to me,” he said. “Usually with a microbiology degree, you do research in all kinds of fields. The types of microbiology that most interested me was infectious diseases and using microbiology to help with patient care.”
Fahle, who is single, has completed nine marathons, including the Boston Marathon in 2004. His parents and brother, Dave, who works in construction, still live in Pemberville.
“I try to make it home at least once a year,” Fahle said. “It was meant for me to come home for this awards ceremony because my dad’s 71st birthday is that Friday. So, it worked out well.”