Interviews with Fellows
Petra Oyston was elected to Academy Fellowship in 2016. She is a Technical Fellow in the CBR Division at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). Dstl’s role is to maximize the impact of S&T for the defense and security of the UK. Her research has focused on developing medical countermeasures against biothreat agents, with an emphasis on the intracellular bacterial pathogens Yersinia pestis, Burkholderia pseudomallei and Francisella tularensis. The aims of her work are the development of vaccines and the characterization of bacterial processes that can be targeted by new classes of antimicrobials. Her particular interest lies in understanding gene regulation in these pathogens, how they adapt from environmental or vector niches to infect a mammalian host. In addition, she is Dstl’s lead on Synthetic Biology, with a role in identifying potential applications for this emerging and potentially disruptive technology to address some of the intractable problems faced by defense.
Dr. Martin C.J. Maiden is Professor of Molecular Epidemiology in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford. He was elected as a Fellow of the Academy in 2016. He is also a Fellow of Hertford College Oxford, the Royal College of Pathologists, the Royal Sciety of Biology, and the Academy of Medical Sciences. He currently holds a visiting Professorship in the Department of Biosciences at the University of Cardiff. Martin Maiden’s research tream has, for almost 30 years, concentrated on the investigation of the phenotypic consequences of bacterial pathogen diversity, principally using nucleotide sequence-based analyses. Currently he is developing population genomics approaches to these questions, establishing links between genetic traits identified by means of next generation sequencing technology with defined bacterial phenotypes..
Dr. Garcia was elected into Fellowship of the Academy in 2016 and is currently a Professor of Medicine in the Center for AIDS Research (CFAR), the Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases (IGHID), and the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine all at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is an Oliver Smithies Investigator. Throughout his career, Dr. Garcia has made seminal contributions to the understanding of HIV pathogenesis, specifically the function of Nef, which is an important determinant of HIV pathogenesis and disease progression. More recently, Dr. Garcia’s group has established an outstanding track record in the development, implementation and use of humanized mice for biomedical research. Since their landmark publication describing humanized BLT (Bone Marrow-Liver-Thymus) mice, and more recently, complementary T-cell only and Myeloid-cell only mice (ToM and MoM, respectively) these mouse models have been widely used to address key questions of HIV infection, transmission, prevention, and more recently, persistence and cure.
Dr. Andrew Read’s research group investigates the pathogen adaptation prompted by medical and public health measures, most obviously drug and insecticide resistance, and also the evolution of virulence, infectiousness and vaccine escape. He is particularly interested in the question of how best to treat patients so as to minimize resistance evolution. Originally from New Zealand, Read did a D.Phil. in Evolutionary Biology at the University of Oxford. He held various fellowships at Oxford and then at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, before becoming Chair of Natural History there, a Professorship established in 1767. He taught ecology, evolution, microbiology, and statistics. He has authored more than 200 peer-review papers, 30 book chapters and four edited volumes, and was elected as an Academy Fellow in 2014. He has also been elected to Fellowships from the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Institute of Advanced Studies, Berlin, the AAAS, and The Royal Society. In 2007, he moved to the Centre for Infectious Disease Dynamics, Pennsylvania State University, where he is Evan Pugh Professor in Biology and Entomology, Eberly Professor in Biotechnology, and Director of Penn State’s Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics (www.thereadgroup.net).
Dr. Eric W. Brown has been with the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) since 1999 and currently serves as Director of the Division of Microbiology in the Office of Regulatory Science. He oversees a group of 60 food safety microbiology researchers and support scientists engaged in a multi-parameter research program to develop and apply microbiological and molecular genetic strategies for detecting, identifying, and differentiating bacterial foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella, Listeria, and shiga-toxin producing E. coli. Recently, his laboratory has been instrumental in adapting next-generation sequencing technologies to augment foodborne outbreak investigations and to ensure preventive control and compliance standards at the FDA including the establishment of the GenomeTrakr pilot whole-genome sequencing network for food safety. Dr. Brown received his M.Sc. in Microbiology from the National Cancer Institute/Hood College joint program in the biomedical sciences in 1993 and his Ph.D. in Microbial Genetics from The Department of Biological Sciences at The George Washington University in 1997. He has conducted research in microbial evolution and genetics as a research fellow at the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and as an Assistant Professor of Microbiology at Loyola University of Chicago. He has been a member of the American Society for Microbiology since 1994 and was inducted as a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology in 2015. He has co-authored more than 120 refereed publications and book chapters on the molecular differentiation, evolutionary genetics, and ecological persistence of bacterial pathogens.
Eric Brown is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences and member of the M.G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University. He is also the Director of McMaster’s new Biomedical Discovery and Commercialization program, an educational offering that spans science and business. Dr. Brown's research interest is in the complex biology that underlies bacterial survival strategies. He and his research team aim to understand and subvert these systems in drug resistant superbugs. To this end the Brown lab research group is using tools of chemical biology and molecular genetics to probe poorly understood aspects of bacterial physiology. The overriding goal of these studies is to contribute fresh directions for new antibiotics.
For more information, please visit Dr. Brown’s Website: http://www.brownlab.ca
Cameron Currie, Ph.D., is a Professor of Bacteriology at University of Wisconsin-Madison, in Madison, Wisconsin. Dr. Currie and his laboratory study the dynamics of symbiotic associations, with a particular focus on the charismatic and complex multilateral symbiosis involving leaf-cutter ants. His training and research is highly interdisciplinary, spanning the fields of microbiology, genomics, ecology, and evolutionary biology, and has potential applications in fields as diverse as bioenergy and drug discovery. His teaching focuses on the diversity, ecology, and evolution of microorganisms and he engages in extensive outreach activities. Dr. Currie is the recipient of a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) and a Government of Canada National Sciences and Engineering Research Council Doctoral Dissertation Prize.
Sandra Wolin, M.D., Ph.D., is Professor of Cell Biology and Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Her research focuses on Noncoding RNAs, which are involved in numerous biological processes, and RNA surveillance, which detects defective Noncoding RNAs for degradation. She studies how cells detect and effectively degrade defective Noncoding RNAs and how a failure to do so can result in disease. Her research regarding the protein Ro may indicate that presence of the protein can prevent autoimmunity.
Deborah Bell-Pederson, Ph.D., is Professor in the Department of Biology at Texas A & M University in Houston, Texas. Her research is focused on how the biological clock functions to regulate rhythms in gene expression. She recently discovered that circadian rhythms regulate the activity of MAPK signaling pathways in stress response, controlling cell division and in the elongation phase of protein translation. These breakthrough discoveries suggest possible rationale for clock related disorders such as cancer and offer new ideas for treating other circadian disorders.
Thomas B. Nutman, M.D., is Director of the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases (LPD) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the National Institutes of Health. Within the LPD, he heads the lab's Helminth Immunology Section and Clincial Parasitology Section.
Anne Simon, Ph.D., is Professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her research uses small plus-strand RNA viruses to study sequences and structures involved in translation and replication and the switch between the two activities, which are incompatible with each other. Her lab also studies the evolution of 3' translational enhancers and the overlap between translation elements and replication elements.
Martin B. Dickman, Ph.D., is Professor and Director of the Institute for Plant Genomics and Biotechnology at Texas A&M University. His research centers on fundamental aspects of fungal-plant interactions. He is also interested in plant programmed cell death (apoptosis) and the extent to which parallels exist between plant and animal systems.
Donald W. Schaffner, Ph.D., is Extension Specialist in Food Science and Professor at Rutgers University. His research interests include quantitative microbial risk assessment and predictive food microbiology.
David S. Stephens, M.D., is Vice President for Research in the Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center (WHSC) at Emory University. In this position he oversees the WHSC research enterprise and leads planning activities that enhance research programs and collaborations throughout the WHSC and Emory University. His laboratory is an international leader in efforts to define the molecular basis for virulence and vaccines to prevent bacterial meningitis.
Michael G. Schmidt, Ph.D. is Professor and Vice Chairman of Microbiology and Immunology and Director, Office of Special Programs at the Medical University of South Carolina. He leads a team of infectious disease specialists that are assessing the role of microbes in the acquisition of Hospital Acquired Infections.
Trudy G. Morrison, Ph.D, is a Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Physiological Systems at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Her laboratory explores the molecular mechanisms of paramyxovirus entry into susceptible cells and the assembly and release of infectious virus from infected cells.
Daniel Goldberg is Professor of Medicine and Co-chief, Division of Infectious Diseases, and Professor of Molecular Microbiology at the Washington University School of Medicine. His research focuses on the biochemistry of malaria, particularly the organism Plasmodium faciparum, a protozoan parasite that causes malaria.
Marilyn Parsons, Ph.D. is Professor and Director of Professional Development at the Seattle Biomedical Reearch Institute and an Affiliate Professor in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington. Her research uses molecular approaches to identify important cellular differences between parasites and their human hosts that could lead to new therapies.
Irina Artsimovitch is a Professor in the Department of Microbiology at The Ohio State University. The focal point of the research in her lab is RNA polymerase (RNAP), the enzyme that is responsible for the first step in gene expression, mRNA synthesis.
Richard L. Gallo, MD, PhD is Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, and Chief of the Division of Dermatology at the University of California, San Diego. His research focuses on the role of the inate immune system in skin health and disease, focusing on antimicrobial peptides and aspects of the basic functions of the skin immune system.
Jeffrey Cohen is Chief of the Laboratory for Infectious Diseases (LID) at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Established in 1942, the LID has a long history of vaccine development and identification of new agents of viral diseases. LID is noted for undertaking high-risk, high-reward programs that require extraordinary time and resource commitments, such as programs to develop vaccines for viral hepatitis, severe childhood respiratory diseases, and viral gastroenteritis.
Timothy Cover is a Professor of Medicine and Professor of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Research projects in his laboratory are focused on investigating molecular mechanisms by which pathogenic bacteria cause disease in humans.
Erica Ollmann Saphire is a Professor in the Department of Immunology and Microbial Science at The Scripps Research Institute. The goal of her lab's work is the improvement of public health, but their results also illuminate the transformations, functionalities and plasticity of proteins in general, with application to all of molecular biology.
Joshua Nosanchuk is an infectious disease physician in addition to being a professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology and the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. His research focuses on the pathogenesis of human fungi, specifically Histoplasma capsulatum, Candida parapsilosis, and Cryptococcus neoformans as well as the use of nanoparticle therapeutics for wound healing.
Bernard Beall is the Director the Streptococcus Laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His laboratory routinely supports outbreak investigations of streptococcal strains, serves as a reference center for the identification and characterization of streptococci, and manages the Global Pneumococcal Strain Bank.
Suzanne Fleiszig is a professor of optometry and vision science and the Associate Dean for Basic Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. Research in her laboratory focuses on the pathogenesis of bacterial infections using the cornea and opportunistic pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa as models of infection.
Frances Arnold is a Professor of Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Dr. Arnold’s research focuses on evolutionary design of biological systems.
Dennis Bazylinski is a Professor in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His lab studies magnetotactic bacteria, a diverse group of bacteria made unique by their ability to biomineralize magnetic crystals inside their cells which allows alignment with external magnetic fields.
|Paul Bieniasz is a Professor at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center (a part of Rockefeller University) and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. His research focuses on the molecular biology of retroviruses, HIV in particular, and on the ways these viruses interact with host cells.|
|Christine Biron is chair of the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at Brown University in Providence, and she focuses her research program on the mechanisms of the innate immune system – the body’s system of non-specific munitions for fighting off pathogens.|Andrew Camilli is a Professor at Tufts University Medical School in Boston and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, where his research focuses on gene discovery and pathogenesis studies of Vibrio cholerae and Streptococcus pneumoniae.
|Raul Cano is the Unocal Chair for Environmental Studies and the Director of the Environmental Biotechnology Institute at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. During his time at Cal Poly, Dr. Cano's research has covered a wide array of topics, ranging from cultivating "fossilized" microbes to sequencing the genome of Lactobacillus acidophilus. He is the Chair of the AAM's Committee on Diversity.|
|Michael Caparon is a Professor of Molecular Microbiology at Washington University in St. Louis. His lab studies the Gram positive pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes, which causes a number of human diseases ranging from impetigo to necrotizing fasciitis. An outstanding question for the field is how this pathogen is able to cause so many different illnesses.|
|Jon Clardy is a Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard University, caught in between the worlds of microbiology and chemistry. His lab mines the diverse arsenal of chemicals produced by microbes for novel therapeutics and other useful compounds. But, he says, the far more interesting questions focus on the natural roles of these products.|
|Melanie Cushion holds down two jobs: she’s a research career scientist at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and she’s also professor and associate chair for research in the department of internal medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Dr. Cushion focuses her research on the fungus, Pneumocystis carinii, which is a harmless commensal for most people, but a deadly pathogen for others.|
|Nicole Dubilier is the leader of the Symbiosis Group at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology. Her lab investigates the symbiotic relationships between marine invertebrates and their microbial partners. You might be surprised to learn that she was initially a marine biologist whose love for microbiology bloomed when she began to study gutless oligochetes and learned how these worms “farm” their symbionts for organic compounds and in turn supply their bacteria with oxygen.|Andrew Ellington is a Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Texas at Austin. As a bioengineer, his lab pioneers aptamer selection and applications. Aptamers, the nucleic acid equivalent of antibodies, can be used for a variety of roles including biological imaging and diagnostics.
|J. Peter Gogarten is a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Connecticut. His research explores the origins and early evolution of cellular life, studying molecular evolution through comparative genomics. But he wasn’t always in microbiology, and if he was required to change careers, he says he might wind up behind a canvas or in a mathematics department.|Laura A. Katz is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Smith College. Her lab probes the evolution of microbial eukaryotes and hopes to refine universal phylogenies that resolve major developmental milestones.
|David Low is a Professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. While most of his research career has focused on epigenetic regulation in bacteria, his lab has recently discovered a novel mechanism of bacteria communication and competition – contact dependent growth inhibition.|
|Julie Overbaugh is a member of the Divisions of Human Biology and Public Health Sciences at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and an Affiliate Professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Dr. Overbaugh studies the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV, and the factors that influence its transmission.|
|Robin Patel is a Professor of Medicine and of Microbiology, Chair of Clinical Microbiology and Director of the Infectious Disease Research Laboratory at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Her research in clinical microbiology has ranged from the development of new diagnostics to the discovery of new bacterial species.|
|Peter Small is a Senior Program Officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and an Affiliate Associate Professor in the University of Washington’s Department of Pathobiology. While collaborating with epidemiologists, population biologists, and molecular biologists, Dr. Small studies the population biology of tuberculosis, particularly in the context of co-infection with HIV. He’s an avid spear fisherman, and is currently in the process of an inter-continental move.|Vanessa Sperandio is a Professor of Microbiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Her lab studies cell-cell signaling in the control of virulence factor gene expression in enteric bacterial pathogens.
|Xinzhuan Su is the Chief and Senior Investigator of the Malaria Functional Genomics Section of the Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research, part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Su’s research is focused on the genomics of Plasmodium falciparum.|
|Mark Walker is the Director of the Australian Infectious Disease Research Centre in Brisbane. His lab investigates the multitude of means by which group A streptococcus (GAS) causes disease.|
|Jonathan Weissman is a Professor of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology and of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco.|
|Theodore White is a full member at Seattle Biomed, where he’s been since 1996, and an affiliate professor at the University of Washington. His research program focuses on molecular mechanisms of drug resistance in fungi, particularly Candida albicans.|
|Dr. Jonathan Zehr is a professor of Ocean Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz and an adjunct researcher at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). Dr. Zehr’s research focuses on the nitrogen cycle in the oceans, with particular focus on nitrogen-fixing bacteria and archaea.|