• Andreas Bäumler
    Andreas Bäumler UC Davis
    Andreas Bäumler

    The Bäumler lab studies the human disease manifestations associated with Salmonella serotypes such as typhoid fever caused by Salmonella typhi and gastroenteritis caused by non-typhoidal Salmonella serotypes (e.g. S. Typhimurium). One focus of Bäumler's research is to understand why typhoid fever and gastroenteritis differ in the host response elicited at the site where both infections originate, the intestinal mucosa. The Bäumler lab aims to understand what Salmonella virulence factors and host factors contribute to the different disease manifestations caused by different serotypes of Salmonella.

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  • Melanie Blokesch
    Melanie Blokesch EPFL Lausanne
    Melanie Blokesch

    Blokesch's research group investigates the pathogenic bacterium Vibrio cholerae that afflicts humans and has been responsible for major pandemics throughout history. She is interested how the natural environment of the bacterium is linked to its potential to evolve into a human pathogen.

    Her group studies how V. cholerae acquires new capabilities via horizontal gene transfer (HGT). They found the pilous fraction of the DNA-uptake machinery also enables the adherence to chitinous surfaces, such as exoskeleton of arthropods, also under conditions of water currents. Further, they discovered that V. cholerae actively forages for DNA by killing neighboring cells via type VI secretion system (T6SS) while being able to spare kin cells. Thereby DNA chunks even beyond the length of 150kb are taken up and exchanged against regions of the bacterium’s genome. They started also working on the HGT capabilities of Acinetobacter baumannii, another human pathogen, known for frequently being resistant to a variety of antibiotics, and mostly associated with high infection rates in hospital settings.

    In order to better understand the interaction of host and pathogen, they also investigate routes of transmission in endemic cholera hot-spots. They discovered several virulence factors that might be used by V. cholerae in a Trojan horse-like manner to replicate in aquatic amoebae, and thereby could facilitate transmission.

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  • Joseph Bondy-Denomy
    Joseph Bondy-Denomy UC San Francisco
    Joseph Bondy-Denomy

    The Bondy-Denomy lab studies CRISPR-Cas bacterial immune systems in an effort to understand their role in antagonizing viruses called bacteriophages. The group is very interested in how CRISPR works and the ways that phages inhibit and evade CRISPR-Cas function.

    The research of the lab focuses on bacterial immune systems – including CRISPR-Cas and beyond – through a phage lens. Their interest lays in investigating the functions of these systems in bacteria that naturally encode them. The lab studies the mechanisms by which they function and how phages fight back to antagonize or evade them.

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  • Susan Bullman
    Susan Bullman Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Seattle
    Susan Bullman

    Dr. Susan Bullman studies the link between microbes and cancer. She spearheads research on a species of bacteria that is implicated in colorectal cancer. Her studies show that when colon cancer cells spread to the liver, the dangerous bacteria travel there as well, embedding with those rogue cancer cells as the disease enters its most lethal phase. Dr. Bullman aims to unlock the molecular mechanisms behind cancer-promoting bacteria and identify targets for risk assessment, early detection, prevention and targeted treatment.

    The Bullman Lab focuses firstly on understanding the translational impact of the tumor microbiota in human cancers, and secondly on the delineation of specific mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of microbe-associated human cancers. They combine molecular microbiology, computational biology, biochemistry, and genetics to understand host-microbial interactions within the tumor microenvironment. Through such efforts, the group seeks to make discoveries that have both a scientific and clinical impact in the emerging area of bacterial-associated malignancies. Bacterial agents that have a role in cancer initiation or progression provide a viable route for prevention and treatment of these cancers.

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  • Jean-François  Collet
    Jean-François Collet De Duve Institute, Brussels
    Jean-François Collet

    Jean-François Collet’s laboratory wants to contribute to the global effort aiming to prevent the return of untreatable epidemics by better understanding how bacteria defend themselves against the toxic molecules present in their environment, including antibiotics. In other words, they want to understand how bacteria respond to the different stress to which they are exposed. The primary goal of their research is fundamental: they want to elucidate the mechanisms of stress response. However, the groups research will also provide the knowledge required to develop new antibiotics.

    In his lab, they focus on two types of stress. First, they want to understand how bacteria assemble their cell envelope, and how they maintain its integrity under envelope stress conditions. Second, they want to understand how bacteria defend themselves against oxidative stress.

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  • Petra Dersch
    Petra Dersch University of Münster
    Petra Dersch

     Petra Dersch’s lab studies the ways in which  gastrointestinal pathogens adhere to the intestinal epithelium, penetrate it, and ultimately spread within the host and cause acute and persistent infections. In this context, they investigate the function and regulation of virulence factors implicated in host tissue colonization and immune evasion to identify new therapeutic approaches to outflank the elaborate strategies of these microbes.

    The group addresses how enteric bacteria differ from harmless colonizers of our gut and how they promote intestinal infections and cause disease.

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  • Mariana Gomes de Pinho
    Mariana Gomes de Pinho NOVA University Lisbon
    Mariana Gomes de Pinho

    Mariana Gomes de Pinho’s laboratory is interested in understanding the organization, as well as the temporal and spatial regulation, of the fundamental processes of cell division, cell wall synthesis and chromosome segregation.

    They use Staphylococcus aureus as a model organism. S. aureus is a Gram-positive bacterial pathogen and a major cause of antibiotic resistant infections. Besides its clinical relevance, S. aureus is also a very interesting model to study cell division because it has a different shape and mode of division from the traditional, widely used, model organisms Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis. S. aureus cells are spherical and, more interestingly, divide in three consecutive perpendicular planes over three division cycles.

    The lab uses the information gained by studying fundamental processes in a bacterial pathogen to better understand antibiotic resistance mechanisms in S. aureus, as well as the mode of action of new antimicrobial compounds. They strongly believe that fundamental research on pathogens biology is essential for the development of innovative strategies against clinically relevant pathogens.

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  • Andrew Goodman
    Andrew Goodman Yale University, West Haven
    Andrew Goodman

    The overall goal of the Goodman lab is to dissect the mechanisms that commensal gut microbes use to compete, cooperate, and antagonize each other in the gut and to explore how microbiome variation impacts their response to external perturbations, including pathogenic infection and medical drugs.

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  • Elizabeth Hartland
    Elizabeth Hartland University of Melbourne
    Elizabeth Hartland

    Professor Hartland has a long-standing research interest in the pathogenesis of infections caused by Gram-negative pathogens, with a focus on mechanisms of bacterial colonization and immune evasion. Using respiratory and gastrointestinal pathogens, the overall goal of Professor Hartland’s research is to identify and characterise the function of translocated bacterial effector proteins and the role of their host targets in immunity and disease.

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  • Sophie Helaine
    Sophie Helaine Harvard University
    Sophie Helaine

    Work in the Helaine lab is focused on the heterogenous behaviour of salmonella during infection. Investigations are aimed at elucidating how bacteria enter into, survive during and exit a non-growing persister state, which allows them to evade both the treatment of antibiotics and the host immune responses.

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  • Anat Herskovits
    Anat Herskovits Tel Aviv University
    Anat Herskovits

    Anat Herskovits’s laboratory is interested in how intracellular bacterial pathogens manage to survive the mammalian niche and cause infection. Her research group studies the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, which is a human facultative intracellular pathogen. They specifically ask how L. monocytogenes metabolically adapt to grow within mammalian cells. They also ask how L. monocytogenes interact with their inhabiting prophages in the course of mammalian infection. Lysogenic phages are parasites, potential ‘molecular time bombs’, yet during mammalian infection they cooperate with their bacterial host. The lab combines various computational, biochemical and genetic approaches to decipher the phage adaptive behaviours that support the survival of pathogens within the mammalian niche.

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  • Christine Jacobs-Wagner
    Christine Jacobs-Wagner Stanford University
    Christine Jacobs-Wagner

    Christine Jacobs-Wagner’s lab is interested in understanding the fundamental mechanisms and principles by which cells, and, in particular, bacterial cells, are able to multiple. Current research examines the general principles and spatiotemporal mechanisms by which bacterial cells replicate, using Caulobacter crescentus and Escherichia coli as models.

    Christine Jacobs-Wagner's major breakthrough has been the discovery that the tiny cells of bacteria such as Caulobacter, Escherichia coli, and Borrelia are not simply bags of biochemicals but instead program the locations of their protein components via their regulatory systems. She also discovered the protein crescentin, which forms bacterial intermediate filaments, structures once thought to occur only in eukaryotic cells. The current focus of her laboratory's work is to discover regulation of the times and places for critical components of the DNA replication and cell division processes so that proliferation control can be understood.

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  • Grant Jensen
    Grant Jensen Brigham Young University
    Grant Jensen

    The Jensen Lab uses Cryo-Electron Tomography (cryoET) to study the molecular architecture of microbial cells and HIV in their native state. They focus on fundamentals of microbial cell biology such as cell division, movement and secretion, as well as the structure of HIV at all stages of its lifecycle.

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  • Karen Maxwell
    Karen Maxwell University of Toronto
    Karen Maxwell

    Karen Maxwell’s lab studies the interplay of phages with their bacterial hosts, with a focus on phage mediated bacterial virulence mechanisms and inhibitors of anti-phage bacterial defenses.

    Their main research interest are the topics: Phage Morons, Anti-CRISPRs and Anti- Phage Defence.

    Work in her lab is focused on the discovery and characterization of anti-CRISPRs that target the type II CRISPR-Cas9 systems found in bacteria like Neisseria meningitidis and Haemophilus parainfluenzae. They utilize bioinformatics and genetic screens to identify new anti-CRISPRs, and they characterize them using a combination of biological, biochemical and biophysical techniques.

    Anti-Phage Defence:
    Their work identified a group of molecules, known as anthracyclines, that have the ability to protect Streptomyces from phages. These molecules, which are widely used in cancer treatment, interact with the infecting phage genome and prevent it from replicating. This preferenital activity against rapidly replicating phage genomes may help explain the longstanding question of why bacteria are such a great source of anti-cancer drugs.

    Ongoing work in the lab aims to address some of the many questions that remain outstanding. How diverse are the anti-phage secondary metabolites that Streptomyces produce? Are there other unrelated groups of molecules? How widespread is this mechanism among bacteria? Have phages evolved counter-defenses to help protect them from this chemical attack?

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  • Tracy Palmer
    Tracy Palmer Newcastle University
    Tracy Palmer

    Palmer's main research interest is in the processes by which bacteria secrete proteins into their environment. She was one of the co-discoverers of the bacterial Tat protein secretion system. The Tat system is highly unusual because it transports folded proteins of variable sizes across biological membranes while at the same time maintaining the impermeability of the membrane to ions.

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  • Davide Sassera
    Davide Sassera University of Pavia
    Davide Sassera

    Davide Sassera’s group  tries to use multiple techniques to investigate symbiosis.

    They are interested in unravelling the genome evolutionary underlying such fascinating biological systems, and they have multiple research projects on different symbiotic systems. In particular, they are dealing with Rickettsiales endosymbionts of different eukaryotes.

    The group is also using multiple approaches to try to understand the capacity of the intracellular bacterium Midichloria mitochondrii to enter the mitochondria of the cells of its host.

    Furthermore, they investigate bacterial symbionts through transmission electron microscopy (TEM).

    The study of the transcriptomic profiles can be useful to understand the metabolism of any biological system. They use RNA-seq to understand the effect of symbiosis in hard ticks.

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  • Feng Shao
    Feng Shao National Institute of Biological Sciences, Beijing
    Feng Shao

    Dr. Feng Shao’s laboratory is interested in studying molecular mechanisms of bacterial infection and host innate immunity defense.

    They believe that such kind of research and discovery is not only revealing in bacterial pathogenesis, but also provides an unprecedented unique angle for studying the mechanism of eukaryotic signal transduction.

    Meanwhile, the group is also interested in how the host uses its innate immunity system to counteract bacterial infection, particularly the inflammasome pathway in macrophages.

    They are combining multiple approaches including biochemical reconstitution, cell biology and mouse genetics to identify new components in pathogen-induced inflammasome activation and to further reveal the underlying biochemical mechanism.

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  • Rotem Sorek
    Rotem Sorek Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot
    Rotem Sorek

    Sorek Rotem’s lab of microbial genomics and systems biology focuses on the interactions between bacteria and the viruses that infect them (phages). They study how phages attack bacteria, and how bacteria defend themselves against such attacks. They are interested in deciphering the molecular mechanisms providing bacteria with protection against phages, collectively known as the "immune system" of bacteria. Specifically, they study the CRISPR-Cas system, as well as new anti-phage defense systems discovered in his lab. Their studies found that important components of the human innate immune system have originated from bacterial defense systems that protect from phages. They also discovered that phages can use small-molecule communication in order to coordinate their infection dynamics - their lab studies the molecular mechanisms allowing such communication.

    Their research combines computational genomics techniques, systems biology, metagenomics, high-throughput sequencing technologies, and modern experimental approaches in microbiology and phage biology.

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  • Christina Stallings
    Christina Stallings Washington University in St. Louis
    Christina Stallings

    The Stalling Laboratory studies the molecular pathogenesis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis disease results in 1.5 million deaths a year, more than any other single infectious agent. This health crisis is exacerbated by the alarming emergence of multi-drug and extensively drug resistant strains. The inadequacies of present Tuberculosis therapies demand the discovery of new agents to treat M. tuberculosis infection, which requires insight into the pathways involved in M. tuberculosis pathogenesis.

    The general approach of Stalling’s laboratory is to integrate in vivo disease modeling, molecular biology, and biochemistry to provide answers to the fundamental biological questions regarding molecular pathogenesis and yield new therapeutic strategies for the treatment of mycobacterial infections.

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  • Nassos Typas
    Nassos Typas EMBL Heidelberg
    Nassos Typas

    Nassos Typas’ laboratory has its main biological focus on the bacterial envelope – its mode of assembly and growth, and its ability to sense the environment. Working at the intersection between genomics and molecular mechanism, they have discovered key missing players of major envelope pathways, uncovered niche-specific regulation of conserved envelope processes, detected how cell identifies malfunctions in such processes and identified linking proteins that allow different envelope machineries to coordinate their action.

    The group has also recently moved their efforts to developing automated platforms and genome-wide approaches to study: the mode-of-action and interactions of drugs, the Salmonella-host interface, and the human gut microbiome.

    In the future, they are broadly interested in the impact of mutations and horizontal gene transfer in the evolution of bacterial cellular networks.

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  • Jan-Willem Veening
    Jan-Willem Veening University of Lausanne
    Jan-Willem Veening

    The Veening lab is interested in understanding fundamental processes in the pneumococcus, the main cause of community acquired pneumonia and meningitis in children and the elderly. Using a multidisciplinary approach, including quantitative single cell techniques, systems and synthetic biology, they address how pneumococci grow and divide and segregate their DNA prior to cell division. They are also interested in the role of phenotypic variation for pneumococcal virulence and antibiotic resistance development.

    Insights obtained from their research will lead to a better understanding of the biology of Streptococcus pneumoniae and might result in new treatment strategies for pneumococcal infections.

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  • Elizabeth Villa
    Elizabeth Villa UC San Diego
    Elizabeth Villa

    Elizabeth Villa’s lab is broadly interested in revealing the structure and function of macromolecular complexes in their natural environment at the highest possible resolution in order to reveal their structural dynamics and interactions. They call it bringing structure to cellular biology.
    The group has a strong focus on building tools for quantitative cell biology, using cryo-electron microscopy and tomography, cell biophysics, computational analysis, and integrative modeling. This potent combination allows them to look at macromolecular complexes in their native environment and derive their structure, context, and interaction partners.
    Their biological focus is on the study of the nuclear periphery, as nuclear biology remains one of the most exciting challenges in the cell, and it is uncharted territory structurally. Their thrust in this area includes projects such as: the structural dynamics of the yeast nuclear pore complex, the mechanical communication between the cytoskeleton and the nucleus, and the molecular architecture of the genome and its association to the nuclear envelope. They also collaborate with different laboratories to open windows into various cellular events. These projects tend to have a translational component, and include studying the inner life of bacteria and studying the effects of LRRK2 in Parkinson’s disease, among others.

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