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Institute for Molecular Medicine & Infectious Disease 2012 International Symposium

John Mekalanos, PhD

John Mekalanos, PhD

John Mekalanos is the Adele H. Lehman Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School. He has served as chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology (formerly Microbiology and Molecular Genetics) since 1996.

His research has involved multiple facets of bacterial pathogenesis with an emphasis on using genetic and functional genomic approaches to explore virulence gene regulation and host-pathogen interactions. His laboratory has provided many genetic tools that have been successfully in use in the field for decades, and has established fundamentally new approaches to understanding bacterial virulence from the gene to the genomic levels.

Dr. Mekalanos has been at the forefront of cholera research from his graduate studies at UCLA in the 1970s to the present. With its many students and postdoctoral fellows, the Mekalanos group has provided classic insights such as the identification of the regulatory factors that control production of both cholera toxin and the intestinal colonization factor TCP; identification of the filamentous bacteriophage that carries the genes for cholera toxin; development of reporters for virulence gene expression in vivo; and identification of small molecules that inhibit virulence in expression during infection. With colleagues and collaborators he has developed prototype vaccines effective against cholera, typhoid, anthrax and other encapsulated microorganisms, as well as providing evidence that bacteriophages control cholera epidemics in natural endemic settings. Recent work in his laboratory led to the identification of type VI secretion systems, dynamic phage-related organelles found in numerous bacteria that inject proteins into target eukaryotic and bacterial cells.

Dr. Mekalanos has received many honors, including election to the National Academy of Science and American Society for Microbiology, the American Society for Microbiology Eli Lilly Award, American Association for the Advancement of Science Newcomb Cleveland Prize, and the City of Medicine Award. This year he was chosen as the first recipient of the Drexel Medicine Prize in Infectious Disease. He has been a member of the FDA Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Related Biologics, and has consulted for numerous governmental and private agencies including the National Institutes of Health, the World Health Organization, The International Vaccine Institute, the National Academy of Sciences, Massachusetts Public Health Biological Laboratories, and the US-Japan Cooperative Medical Science Program.

Dr. Mekalanos will present "A view to a kill: Molecular and cellular interactions in pathogenesis" at this year's symposium.

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Students walking down the hall at the Institute for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease at Drexel University College of Medicine.