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From the College of Natural Sciences
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Microbiologist Receives Support for Studying Bacterial Communication and Disease

Microbiologist Receives Support for Studying Bacterial Communication and Disease
Dr. Marvin Whiteley, assistant professor of molecular genetics and microbiology, recently received a 2008 Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease (PATH) award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund for his work to understand the interaction between human hosts and infectious bacteria.

Whiteley will use the $500,000 PATH award for research over the next five years.

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) also recently presented Whiteley with the 2008 Merck Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award, which recognizes excellence in basic research in medical microbiology and infectious diseases.

He was presented the award at the annual ASM meetings from June 1 – June 5 in Boston, Mass.

Whiteley is a leader in the field of bacterial cell-cell communication. His accomplishments include several discoveries that have impacted the understanding of chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections. The bacterium causes infections of the respiratory system, urinary tract and in wounds.

Whiteley provided the first experimental evidence that quorum sensing—where bacteria coordinate their gene expression according to the density of their population—is responsible for modulating numerous processes aside from virulence in P. aeruginosa infections.

He went on to show how quorum sensing-controlled genes are controlled through time. The work provided the basis for understanding density-dependent gene expression in many other bacterial species.

Whiteley was also the first to examine gene expression in biofilm-growing bacteria. He provided the novel hypothesis that biofilm bacteria have limited critical changes in gene expression.
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Tuesday, 20 April 2021

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