In Memoriam

Name Research Areas Contact
Eric Alm

Eric Alm

Professor of Biological Engineering

Website Link Alm Lab

    • Bioinformatics and Computational Microbiology
    • Metabolic Engineering and Biotechnology
ejalm@mit.edu 617-253-2726
Short Bio

The human microbiome plays a key role in human health and disease. Research in my group includes both computational/theoretical and experimental approaches to understanding and engineering the human microbiome. Our research is focused on translating basic science discoveries rapidly into the clinic, where they can contribute to better outcomes for patients. Some areas of special interest include:

  • Developing therapeutics based on synthetic microbial communities
  • Personalized medicine
  • Monitoring human activities through Smart Sewers
  • Smart Toilets that track human health
  • Discovering low-cost non-invasive biomarkers
Andrew Babbin

Andrew Babbin

Cecil & Ida Green Career Development Associate Professor Associate Professor of Chemical Oceanography and Marine Microbiology

Website Link MIT EAPS

    • Ecology and Environmental/Geo Microbiology
    • Microbial Oceanography
babbin@mit.edu 617 253 2181
Short Bio

Andrew Babbin and his bablab are oceanographers, biogeochemists, engineers, and microbial ecologists studying the interplay of chemistry and biology across spatial scales. They focus on the interactions of microorganisms with their chemical environment to understand climate and the impacts microbial communities have for marine biogeochemistry. They particularly investigate the cycling of marine nitrogen under reduced oxygen concentrations, and its relationship to carbon. Their approach is three-fold: (i) investigating biogeochemistry in situ through shipboard and land-based field work and analyses, (ii) designing and executing novel laboratory-based systems to probe the underlying fundamentals for microbial community growth and function, and (iii) using large datasets to investigate marine biogeochemistry through numerical simulation and modeling. They routinely consider how microscale processes occurring around individual bacteria and marine snow particles impact whole-ocean biogeochemistry, bridging microscopic life to global climate.

Babbin earned his BS degree (2008) from Columbia University and doctoral degree (2014) from Princeton University. He came to MIT in November 2014 as an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Civil and Environmental Engineering before joining the EAPS faculty as of January 2017. His lab group conducts research across a variety of avenues, coupling observational oceanography with laboratory experiments to understand the chemical underpinnings that control microbes in the environment and how these microbes in turn reshape Earth’s climate.

Tania Baker

Tania Baker

E. C. Whitehead Professor of Biology; MacVicar Faculty Fellow; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Website Link Baker Lab

    • Biochemical, Chemical, and Structural Microbiology
tabaker@mit.edu 617-253-3594
Short Bio

Tania Baker’s current research explores mechanisms and regulation of enzyme-catalyzed protein unfolding, ATP-dependent protein degradation, and remodeling of the proteome during cellular stress responses.

David Bartel

David Bartel

Professor of Biology; Member, Whitehead Institute; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Website Link Bartel Lab

    • Biochemical, Chemical, and Structural Microbiology
    • Ecology and Environmental/Geo Microbiology
    • Genetics and Physiology
    • Genomics and Systems Microbiology
dbartel@wi.mit.edu 617-258-5287
Short Bio

We study post-transcriptional gene regulation—why some cellular mRNAs are a thousand times more stable than others, and why some are translated better than others. These differences dramatically influence the amount of protein produced from each gene, which is critical for proper cellular function, as well as organismal development and survival. A major focus of our research is microRNAs, which are ~22-nt RNAs that pair to mRNAs to specify their repression. Another focus is mRNAs, with particular interest in their untranslated regions and tails, and how these regions recruit and mediate regulatory phenomena. In the course of our work, we develop new tools for high-throughput molecular measurements, which help to inform our computational analyses and in-depth mechanistic studies.

Angela Belcher

Angela Belcher

W.M. Keck Professor of Energy; James Mason Crafts Professor of Biological Engineering and Materials Science

Website Link Belcher Lab

    • Bioinformatics and Computational Microbiology
    • Metabolic Engineering and Biotechnology
belcher@mit.edu
Short Bio

In the Biomolecular Materials Group, we evolve simple organisms using directed evolution to work with the elements in the rest of the periodic table. We encourage these organisms to grow and assemble technologically important materials and devices for energy, the environment, and medicine. These hybrid organic-inorganic electronic and magnetic materials have been used in applications as varied as solar cells, batteries, medical diagnostics and basic single molecule interactions related to disease. In doing so, we have capitalized on many of the wonderful properties of biology–using only non-toxic materials, employing self-repair mechanisms, self-assembling precisely and over longer ranges, and adapting and evolving to become better over time.

Paul Blainey

Paul Blainey

Associate Professor of Biological Engineering

Website Link Broad Institute

    • Genetics and Physiology
    • Immunology and Host-Microbe Interactions
    • Virology and Phage Biology
pblainey@mit.edu 617-714-7320
Short Bio

Paul Blainey is a core member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and a tenured associate professor in the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT. He is an expert in microanalysis systems for studies of individual molecules and cells. Blainey is applying this technology to advance the understanding of DNA-protein interactions, evolutionary processes, functional differences between cells, disease processes, and drug target discovery.

The Blainey group develops and translates microfluidic, chemical, imaging, and genomics approaches to make high-throughput quantitative biology routine. Such capabilities will allow scientists to gain fundamental insights into many aspects of mammalian cell biology, microbial community function, and disease biology. Blainey seeks to empower researchers to obtain new types of information about biological specimens and integrate different types of information, such as imaging and genomic data.

Tanja Bosak

Tanja Bosak

Professor

Website Link Bosak Lab

    • Ecology and Environmental/Geo Microbiology
    • Evolution
tbosak@mit.edu 617-324-3959
Short Bio

The Bosak laboratory uses experimental geobiology to explore modern biogeochemical and sedimentological processes in microbial systems and interpret the record of life on the Early Earth.

Lydia Bourouiba

Lydia Bourouiba

Associate Professor

Website Link Bourouiba Lab

    • Immunology and Host-Microbe Interactions
    • Virology and Phage Biology
lbouro@mit.edu 617-324-7745
Short Bio

Focusing on the interface of fluid dynamics and epidemiology, The Fluid Dynamics of Disease Transmission Laboratory, within the Fluids and Health Network, aims to elucidate the fundamental physical mechanisms shaping the transmission dynamics of pathogens in human, animal, and plant populations where drops, bubbles, multiphase and complex flows are at the core, in addition to broader questions at the intersection of health, broadly defined, and fluid physics.

Bryan Bryson

Bryan Bryson

Phillip and Susan Ragon Career Development Professor

Website Link Bryson Lab

    • Genomics and Systems Microbiology
    • Immunology and Host-Microbe Interactions
bryand@mit.edu 617-258-7641
Short Bio
  • Understanding and predicting the host and bacterial determinants of bacterial fate
  • Developing novel tools to interrogate bacterium:host interactions with single cell resolution
  • Reprogramming the innate immune system to improve bacterial control through systematic dissection of innate response pathways
Cullen Buie

Cullen Buie

Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Website Link MIT LEMI

    • Bioenergy and Metabolic Diversity
crb@mit.edu 617.324.4029
Short Bio

Cullen is currently an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering (with tenure) at MIT. His laboratory explores flow physics at the microscale for applications in materials science and microbiology. His research is applicable to a diverse array of problems, from anti-biofouling surfaces and biofuels to energy storage and bacterial infections. Cullen is the recipient of numerous awards for his research and service including the National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2012), the DuPont Young Professor Award (2013), the DARPA Young Faculty Award (2013), and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (2016). Cullen’s C.V. can be found here.

Jianzhu Chen

Jianzhu Chen

Ivan R. Cottrell Professor of Immunology, Singapore Research Professor

Website Link Chen Lab

    • Immunology and Host-Microbe Interactions
    • Molecular and Cellular Microbiology
jchen@mit.edu 617-258-6173
Short Bio

Our research seeks to fundamentally understand how immune cells respond to pathogens and cancer, and how their dysfunction contributes to diseases. Our long-term goal is to elucidate the underlying molecular mechanisms and use this understanding to develop better treatments for cancer and metabolic diseases and better vaccines for infection.

Yiyin Erin Chen

Assistant Professor of Biology; Core Member, Broad Institute

Website Link Chen Lab

    • Immunology and Host-Microbe Interactions
    • Molecular and Cellular Microbiology
erinchen@yeclab.org (617) 714-7072
Short Bio
Diverse commensal microbes colonize every surface of our bodies. We study the constant communication between these microbes and our immune system. We focus on our largest organ: the skin. By employing microbial genetics, immunologic approaches, and mouse models, we can dissect (1) the molecular signals used by microbes to educate our immune system and (2) how different microbial communities alter immune responses. Ultimately, we aim to harness these microbe-host interactions to engineer novel vaccines and therapeutics for human disease.
James Collins

James Collins

Termeer Professor of Bioengineering

Website Link Collins Lab

    • Bioinformatics and Computational Microbiology
    • Genomics and Systems Microbiology
jimjc@mit.edu
Short Bio

We are employing engineering principles to model, design and build synthetic gene circuits and programmable cells, in order to create novel classes of diagnostics & therapeutics.  We are also using deep learning approaches to discover new genetic parts and enhance the synthetic biology design process.

As part of the Antibiotics-AI Project, we are harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to discover novel classes of antibiotics and rapidly understand how they work. We are also using deep learning approaches for the de novo design of new antibiotics and the development of combination treatments.

 

Otto Cordero

Otto Cordero

Associate Professor CEE; Co-Director MIT Microbiology PhD Program

Website Link Cordero Lab

Website Link MIT CEE

    • Bioinformatics and Computational Microbiology
    • Ecology and Environmental/Geo Microbiology
    • Evolution
    • Genomics and Systems Microbiology
    • Microbial Oceanography
ottox@mit.edu 617.230.4153
Short Bio

Professor Cordero studies the ecology and evolution of natural microbial collectives. His lab is interested in understanding how social and ecological interactions at micro-scales impact the global productivity, stability and evolutionary dynamics of microbial ecosystems.

Joey Davis

Joey Davis

Associate Professor of Biology

Website Link Davis Lab

Website Link MIT Biology

    • Biochemical, Chemical, and Structural Microbiology
    • Molecular and Cellular Microbiology
jhdavis@mit.edu 617-258-6154
Short Bio

Having worked in Bob Sauer’s group as a Ph.D. student, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to return to MIT to start my lab. After graduating, I was the first employee at Ginkgo BioWorks, a local synthetic biology startup company and later was a post-doc in San Diego where I was jointly advised by Jamie Williamson and Malene Hansen. I’m excited to be back in Boston and working on key problems at the intersection of biochemistry, structural biology, and macromolecular complex assembly!

Peter Dedon

Peter Dedon

Underwood-Prescott Professor of Biological Engineering

Website Link Dedon Lab

    • Immunology and Host-Microbe Interactions
    • Virology and Phage Biology
pcdedon@mit.edu 617-253-8017
Short Bio

Research in the Dedon Lab focuses on the chemical biology of nucleic acids in three broad areas: epigenetics, epitranscriptomics, and genetic toxicology.

Cathy Drennan

Cathy Drennan

Professor of Chemistry and Biology; Investigator and Professor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; MacVicar Faculty Fellow

Website Link Drennan Lab

Website Link MIT Biology

    • Biochemical, Chemical, and Structural Microbiology
    • Bioinformatics and Computational Microbiology
cdrennan@mit.edu 617-253-5622
Short Bio

The Drennan Research Laboratory seeks to understand how Nature harnesses and re-directs the reactivity of enzyme metallocenters in order to perform challenging reactions. The Drennan Lab Educational Initiatives focus on the development of resources for undergraduate science teaching and for the training of science educators.

Bevin Engelward

Bevin Engelward

Professor of Biological Engineering; Director of the MIT Superfund Research Center

Website Link Engelward Lab

    • Genetics and Physiology
    • Immunology and Host-Microbe Interactions
bevin@mit.edu 617-258-0260
Short Bio

Major goals of the Engelward laboratory are to contribute to our understanding of factors that impact genomic stability through basic research, and through the development and application of novel technologies.

  • Develop mouse models for fluorescent detection of rare genetic changes
  • Reveal the impact of genes, environment, and physiological conditions on genomic stability
  • Create a high-throughput platform for measuring DNA damage in human cells
  • Apply high throughput technology for epidemiology and drug development
  • Explore the interfaces among DNA damage, repair, and infection
John Essigmann

John Essigmann

William R. (1956) & Betsy P. Leitch Professor in Residence Professor of Chemistry, Toxicology, and Biological Engineering

Website Link Essigmann Lab

    • Genetics and Physiology
    • Immunology and Host-Microbe Interactions
    • Virology and Phage Biology
jessig@mit.edu 617-253-6227
Short Bio

John Essigmann is the William R. (1956) and Betsy P. Leitch Professor in Residence of Chemistry in the MIT Department of Chemistry and Professor of Toxicology and Biological Engineering in the MIT Department of Biological Engineering. He was the Associate Head of the Department of Chemistry until 2012, responsible for graduate and undergraduate education, and from 2012 until 2019 he was the Director of the MIT Center for Environmental Health Sciences.  John was brought up in Medford, MA, a suburb of Boston and is a lifelong resident of the Boston area.

Kevin Esvelt

Kevin Esvelt

Leader, Sculpting Evolution Group; Assistant Professor, Media Lab

Website Link Sculpting Evolution

    • Evolution
    • Genetics and Physiology
    • Virology and Phage Biology
esvelt@media.mit.edu 617-715-2615
Short Bio

Kevin M. Esvelt is an associate professor at the MIT Media Lab, where he leads the Sculpting Evolution Group in advancing biotechnology safely.

He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University for inventing a synthetic microbial ecosystem to rapidly evolve useful biomolecules, and subsequently helped pioneer the development of CRISPR, a powerful new method of genome engineering.

In 2013, Esvelt was the first to identify the potential for CRISPR “gene drive” systems to alter wild populations of organisms. Recognizing the implications of an advance that could enable individual scientists to alter the shared environment, he and his colleagues chose to break with scientific tradition by revealing their findings and calling for open discussion and safeguards before building the first CRISPR-based gene drive system and demonstrating reversibility in the laboratory.

Gregory Fournier

Gregory Fournier

Associate Professor of Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Science

Website Link MIT EAPS

    • Bioinformatics and Computational Microbiology
    • Ecology and Environmental/Geo Microbiology
    • Evolution
g4nier@mit.edu 617-324-6164
Short Bio

Greg Fournier is an expert in molecular phylogenetics and microbial evolution. His research investigates the geobiological context for the complex evolutionary histories of genes involved in “horizontal gene transfer” or HGT, the early evolution of microbial systems and metabolisms, and how these processes have shaped the biogeochemistry and habitability of the planet.

His research accomplishments span many eras of Earth’s history, including the identification of the HGT origin of new methane-producing metabolisms at a time closely linked with the Permian-Triassic mass extinction, discovering gene histories showing oxygen-dependent sterol biosynthesis evolved in the ancestors of eukaryotes over 2 billion years ago, and developing new HGT-based approaches for dating the origin of microbial groups and metabolisms, including methanogenesis and oxygenic photosynthesis. His current work focuses on expanding HGT-based molecular clocks to obtain a comprehensive, precise dating of the microbial Tree of Life, as well as focused studies on the evolution of major groups of cyanobacteria, green sulfur bacteria, and microbes involved in the nitrogen cycle and the consumption of animal-derived organic materials.

James Fox

James Fox

Director, Division of Comparative Medicine: Professor, Department of Biological Engineering

Website Link MIT Biological Engineering

    • Immunology and Host-Microbe Interactions
    • Virology and Phage Biology
jgfox@mit.edu 617-253-1757
Short Bio

Prof. Fox obtained his Master of Science degree in Medical Microbiology at Stanford University and a Doctor in Veterinary Medicine at the Colorado State University, Fort Collins. Dr. Fox is an Adjunct Professor at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine. He is a Diplomate and a past president of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine, past president of the Massachusetts Society of Medical Research, past chairman of AAALAC Council, and past chairman of the NCCR/NIH Comparative Medicine Study Section. He also is an elected fellow of the Infectious Disease Society of America. In 2004 Professor Fox was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Ariel Furst

Ariel Furst

Raymond (1921) & Helen St. Laurent Career Development Professor of Chemical Engineering

Website Link Furst Lab

    • Bioenergy and Metabolic Diversity
    • Ecology and Environmental/Geo Microbiology
afurst@mit.edu 617-253-4677
Short Bio

Ariel L. Furst received a B.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Chicago working with Prof. Stephen B. H. Kent on the chemical synthesis of proteins. She then completed her Ph.D. in the lab of Prof. Jacqueline K. Barton at the California Institute of Technology developing new cancer diagnostic strategies based on DNA charge transport. She was then an A. O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab of Prof. Matthew Francis at the University of California, Berkeley. She is now an assistant professor in the Chemical Engineering Department at MIT. She is passionate about STEM outreach and increasing participation of underrepresented groups in engineering.

Jeff Gore

Jeff Gore

Latham Family Career Development Associate Professor of Physics

Website Link Gore Lab

    • Ecology and Environmental/Geo Microbiology
    • Evolution
gore@mit.edu 617-715-4251
Short Bio

Jeff’s research interests have ranged widely, from the current focus on ecological dynamics to his single-molecule research in graduate school with the Bustamante laboratory. Before starting his own lab, Jeff was a Pappalardo Fellow in the Physics Department at MIT working with the van Oudenaarden laboratory studying cooperation and cheating in yeast.

Jeff’s honors include a Schmidt Science Polymath Award, NIH New Innovator Award, NIH K99/R00 Pathways to Independence Award, and an NSF CAREER Award. In addition, Jeff is a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences, Sloan Research Fellow, and an Allen Distinguished Investigator. He has also been recognized at MIT for his efforts in teaching and mentoring; in 2011 he was chosen as the MIT-wide undergraduate research (UROP) mentor of the year and in 2013 he received the Buechner Teaching Award from the Physics Department.

Alan D. Grossman

Alan D. Grossman

Praecis Professor of Biology

Website Link MIT Biology

    • Genetics and Physiology
    • Molecular and Cellular Microbiology
adg@mit.edu 617-253-1515
Short Bio

We use a variety of approaches to investigate several of the fundamental and conserved processes used by bacteria for propagation and growth, adaptation to stresses, and acquisition of new genes and traits via horizontal gene transfer. Our long term goals are to understand many of the molecular mechanisms and regulation underlying basic cellular processes in bacteria. Our organism of choice for these studies is usually the Gram positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis. Our current efforts are focused in two important areas of biology: 1) The control of horizontal gene transfer, specifically the lifecycle, function, and control of integrative and conjugative elements (ICEs). These elements are widespread in bacteria and contribute greatly to the spread of antibiotic resistances between organisms. 2) Regulation of the initiation of DNA replication and the connections between replication and gene expression, with particular focus on the conserved replication initiator and transcription factor DnaA. This work is directly related to mechanisms controlling bacterial growth, survival, and stress responses.

Kristala L. Jones Prather

Kristala L. Jones Prather

Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering; Arthur Dehon Little Professor, Department Executive Officer

Website Link Prather Research Group

    • Biochemical, Chemical, and Structural Microbiology
    • Metabolic Engineering and Biotechnology
kljp@mit.edu 617-253-1950
Short Bio

Chemical engineering is the perfect backdrop for our research. We engineer microbes to produce chemical compounds. Some may look at this and think biology, but if you were able to peer inside a cell, you’d witness thousands of chemical reactions inside a microbial chemical factory.

Chris Kaiser

Chris Kaiser

Professor of Biology; MacVicar Faculty Fellow

Website Link MIT Biology

    • Genetics and Physiology
    • Molecular and Cellular Microbiology
ckaiser@mit.edu 617-253-9804
Short Bio

The Kaiser lab studied protein folding and intracellular trafficking in the yeast S. cerevisiae. Their work focused on the protein folding in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), quality control mechanisms in the ER, and membrane protein sorting in Golgi compartments. They combined genetic, biochemical, and cell biological methods to gain an understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying each of these processes. Chris Kaiser is no longer accepting students.

Laura L. Kiessling

Laura L. Kiessling

Novartis Professor of Chemistry

Website Link Kiessling Lab

    • Biochemical, Chemical, and Structural Microbiology
    • Immunology and Host-Microbe Interactions
    • Molecular and Cellular Microbiology
kiesslin@mit.edu 617-258-8567
Short Bio

Professor Kiessling received an Sc.B. degree in chemistry at MIT, where she performed undergraduate research in organic synthesis with Professor Bill Roush. She received a Ph.D. degree in chemistry at Yale University for her research with Stuart L. Schreiber. She was an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow with Peter B. Dervan at California Institute of Technology. She then joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she became the Steenbock Professor of Chemistry, the Laurens Anderson Professor of Biochemistry, and the Director of the Keck Center for Chemical Genomics. In 2017, she returned to MIT as the Novartis Professor of Chemistry.

Professor Kiessling is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the American Academy of Microbiology, the American Philosophical Society, and National Academy of Sciences. She is the founding Editor-In-Chief of the journal ACS Chemical Biology . She is an author of over 140 peer-reviewed journal articles, and an inventor on more than 28 US patents. She has advised approximately 100 graduate students and postdoctorates. Alumni from her research group are contributing through their positions as faculty members of distinguished research universities, medical schools, and colleges and as research scientists at innovative start-up companies, leading corporations, and government laboratories.

Becky Lamason

Becky Lamason

Associate Professor of Biology

Website Link Lamason Lab

Website Link MIT Biology

    • Molecular and Cellular Microbiology
rlamason@mit.edu 617-258-6155
Short Bio

In the Lamason lab, we investigate how intracellular bacterial pathogens such as Rickettsia parkeri and Listeria monocytogenes hijack host cell processes to promote infection. We use cellular, molecular, genetic, biochemical, and biophysical approaches to elucidate the mechanisms of host-pathogen interactions in order to reveal key insights into pathogenesis and host cell biology.

Michael Laub

Michael Laub

Associate Professor of Biology; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Website Link Laub Lab

    • Biochemical, Chemical, and Structural Microbiology
    • Genetics and Physiology
    • Genomics and Systems Microbiology
    • Molecular and Cellular Microbiology
laub@mit.edu
Short Bio

Our lab is currently interested in: (1) understanding how toxin-antitoxin systems and other immunity mechanisms help bacteria defend themselves against phage predation and (2) elucidating the molecular basis of protein evolution and the coevolution of interacting proteins. We use a combination of genetics, biochemistry, microscopy, computational analyses, and genome-scale approaches like RNA-seq. Our work is rooted in a desire to develop a deep, fundamental understanding of how bacteria function and evolve, but it also has implications for and applications in areas such as protein engineering and phage therapy.

Daniel Lew

Professor of Biology

Website Link Lew Lab

Website Link Biology Dept.

    • Genetics and Physiology
    • Molecular and Cellular Microbiology
djlew@mit.edu 617-258-7360
Short Bio

Faculty Bio: Daniel Lew joined the Department of Biology at MIT as a Professor in the Spring of 2023. Professor Lew completed a PhD in Molecular Biology from the Rockefeller University in 1990, and then did postdoctoral work at the Scripps Research Institute where he investigated the cell cycle control in the model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. His research focuses on the study of cell polarity and the spatial decoding of chemical signals by cells, which are critical for many biological phenomena.

Research Summary: We study questions in fundamental cell biology, using fungal models and a mix of experimental and computational approaches. Fungi and animals share conserved molecular strategies to perform many core cell functions, so the tractable yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae provides a superb model system to gain in-depth understanding that can be translated into computational models. We also study an emerging non-model fungus, Aureobasidium pullulans, that is an ubiquitous poly-extremophile with unconventional growth modes that raise novel questions in cell biology.

Some questions of interest:

 

  • How do cells regulate cell polarity to achieve different morphologies?
  • How do cells orient cell polarity in response to extracellular signals?
  • How do cells distribute their contents, particularly in complex geometries?
  • How do fungi growing under stringent turgor pressure expand their cell walls without lysing?
  • How do cell-cell contacts between cell walls communicate mechanical information to the cell?
Gene-Wei Li

Gene-Wei Li

Associate Professor of Biology

Website Link Gene-Wei Li Lab

    • Biochemical, Chemical, and Structural Microbiology
    • Genetics and Physiology
gwli@mit.edu 617-324-6703
Short Bio

Gene-Wei Li investigates how quantitative information regarding precise proteome composition is encoded in and extracted from bacterial genomes. We seek to understand the optimization of bacterial proteomes at both mechanistic and systems levels. Our work combines high-precision assays, genome-wide measurements, and quantitative/biophysical modeling. Ongoing projects focus on the design principles of transcription, translation, and RNA maturation machineries in the face of competing cellular processes.

Tami Lieberman

Tami Lieberman

Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Website Link MIT IMES

    • Bioinformatics and Computational Microbiology
    • Ecology and Environmental/Geo Microbiology
    • Genetics and Physiology
    • Genomics and Systems Microbiology
    • Immunology and Host-Microbe Interactions
    • Virology and Phage Biology
tami@mit.edu 617-258-6670
Short Bio

Tami Lieberman joined the MIT faculty in January 2018. She leads a computational and experimental research group focused on uncovering the principles governing colonization, niche range, and personalization in the human microbiome.

Tami trained in molecular biology and mathematics at Northwestern University, where she conducted research in the laboratory of Jon Widom and was funded by a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. She then earned a PhD in Systems Biology from Harvard University, where she conducted research in Roy Kishony’s laboratory. During her graduate research, Tami developed new genomic approaches for understanding how bacteria evolve during infections of individual people. As a postdoc in Eric Alm’s lab at MIT, she further developed and applied these genomic approaches to understand the microbes that colonize us during health. Tami has also made contributions to our understanding of antibiotic resistance, including the co-invention of a new platform for visualizing evolution in real time. Her work has been covered in the popular press, including online coverage from The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, The Boston Globe, and ArsTechnia.

Sebastian Lourido

Sebastian Lourido

Associate Professor of Biology; Core Member, Whitehead Institute

Website Link MIT Biology

    • Biochemical, Chemical, and Structural Microbiology
    • Genomics and Systems Microbiology
    • Immunology and Host-Microbe Interactions
    • Molecular and Cellular Microbiology
lourido@wi.mit.edu 617-324-4920
Short Bio

Our lab is interested in the molecular events that enable apicomplexan parasites to remain widespread and deadly infectious agents. We study many important human pathogens, including Toxoplasma gondii, to model features conserved throughout the phylum. We seek to expand our understanding of eukaryotic diversity and identify specific features that can be targeted to treat parasite infections.

J. Christopher Love

J. Christopher Love

Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering

Website Link Koch Institute

    • Genetics and Physiology
    • Immunology and Host-Microbe Interactions
clove@mit.edu 617-324-2300
Short Bio

The Love Laboratory seeks to advance the discovery and development of new therapeutics using patient-centric, data-driven approaches. Using a suite of technologies for single-cell analysis pioneered by the lab over the last decade, we aim to resolve essential cells involved in the evolution of diseases like cancer and food allergy, as well as those that may offer beneficial protection through interventions like therapies or vaccines. We also aim to accelerate the development and accessibility of biopharmaceuticals and vaccines for patients globally. Our lab is creating integrated holistic approaches to the development and manufacturing of these biologics with the aim of testing new medicines rapidly and ensuring accessibility to new and existing medicines through innovations in manufacturing. Using a combination of principles from chemical engineering and biological engineering including state-of-the-art tools for genome editing and RNA sequencing, we are advancing the breadth of products through molecular and host engineering as well as concepts in integrated process design.

Scott Manalis

Scott Manalis

Professor of Biological and Mechanical Engineering

Website Link Manalis Lab

    • Bioinformatics and Computational Microbiology
srm@mit.edu 617-253-5039
Short Bio

Scott Manalis is the David H. Koch Professor in Engineering and member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. He received a B.S. in physics from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Ph.D. in applied physics from Stanford University. His lab develops and applies high precision approaches for measuring biophysical properties of single cells.

Darcy McRose

Darcy McRose

Assistant Professor

Website Link McRose Lab

    • Biochemical, Chemical, and Structural Microbiology
    • Bioenergy and Metabolic Diversity
    • Ecology and Environmental/Geo Microbiology
    • Genetics and Physiology
    • Microbial Oceanography
dmcrose@mit.edu 617-715-4244
Short Bio

Our research group is interested in understanding how small scale microbially-mediated chemical transformations in soils and sediments affect biogeochemistry and plant growth. We focus specifically on the chemical tools or “secondary metabolites” that microbes (and plants) use to navigate and alter their environment. While we have learned a great deal about the antibiotic properties of secondary metabolites and their utility in human health, we know significantly less about secondary metabolite function in natural contexts. This knowledge gap creates a unique opportunity: secondary metabolites are highly tractable study targets and while they do not encompass the whole of soil complexity, they epitomize many crucial aspects.

We are particularly interested in secondary metabolites that are redox active and/or bind metals as these chemical properties can contribute to weathering and nutrient turnover in natural contexts. Our work incorporates bacterial genetics, genomics, and physiology as well as mass spectrometry and other geochemical measurements. Carbon storage and agricultural sustainability are two of the ultimate motivations for our work. Specific projects investigating macronutrient cycling via secondary metabolites are described below.

Leonid Mirny

Leonid Mirny

Associate Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Physics

Website Link Mirny Lab

    • Bioinformatics and Computational Microbiology
leonid@mit.edu 617-452-4862
Short Bio

The challenge of understanding biological systems from first physical principles is what motivates our research. Biological systems are characterized by remarkable structural complexity at all levels of organization. However, we believe that simple physical models are valuable for describing these systems.

Our laboratory develops multidisciplinary approaches involving:

  • Polymer physics theory and simulation
  • Statistical interpretation of genome-wide data
  • Population genetics and evolutionary theory

A key feature of our approach are the direct collaborations we have with other scientists in the area.

A number of graduate students in the lab are co-advised by an experimentalist.

Nearly every student in the lab works directly with our experimental collaborators, contributing both to experimental design, data analysis, and modeling.

Jacquin Niles

Jacquin Niles

Professor of Biological Engineering; Co-Director MIT Microbiology PhD Program

Website Link Niles Lab

    • Biochemical, Chemical, and Structural Microbiology
    • Immunology and Host-Microbe Interactions
    • Molecular and Cellular Microbiology
jcniles@mit.edu 617-324-3701
Short Bio

Our research emphasizes developing and using novel molecular tools to address outstanding questions in infectious diseases. Our specific focus is on malaria and the causative pathogen, Plasmodium falciparum. We take advantage of model systems to efficiently validate and optimize the design of new tools intended to address unmet needs in our target pathogen. In this process, we simultaneously produce solutions that are applicable across a range of model and pathogenic organisms, and broadly useful in both basic and applied biology efforts.

We are highly multi-disciplinary in our approach, and integrate expertise in diverse areas including: biomolecular engineering; chemical biology; synthetic biology; analytical chemistry; biochemistry; and molecular and cell biology.

Elizabeth Nolan

Elizabeth Nolan

Associate Professor of Chemistry

Website Link Nolan Lab

    • Biochemical, Chemical, and Structural Microbiology
lnolan@mit.edu 617-452-2495
Short Bio

Liz Nolan was raised in Niskayuna, New York and graduated magna cum laude from Smith College with highest honors in chemistry and a minor in music. Liz conducted her graduate studies in inorganic chemistry at MIT where she joined the laboratory of Professor Stephen J. Lippard and she pursued post-doctoral research in the laboratory of Christopher T. Walsh at Harvard Medical School. Liz joined the Department of Chemistry at MIT as an Assistant Professor in 2009 and was promoted to Associate Professor Without Tenure in 2014, Associate Professor with Tenure in 2016, and Professor with Tenure in 2019. She was selected as the Ivan R. Cottrell Professor of Immunology in 2020. Liz received a 2010 NIH New Innovator Award, a 2014 NSF CAREER Award, and was named a Searle Scholar in 2011, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow in 2013, and a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar in 2014. She is the recipient of the 2016 Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry and a 2017 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). For her contributions as an educator, Liz was awarded the 2016 MIT School of Science Teaching Prize for Graduate Education. In 2020, Liz began serving as the Associate Department Head overseeing the Department of Chemistry’s educational mission.

Katharina Ribbeck

Katharina Ribbeck

Eugene Bell Career Development Professor of Tissue Engineering

Website Link Ribbeck Lab

Website Link MIT Biological Engineering

    • Immunology and Host-Microbe Interactions
    • Virology and Phage Biology
ribbeck@mit.edu 617-715-4575
Short Bio

The Laboratory for Biological Hydrogels’ focus is on basic mechanisms by which mucus barriers exclude, or allow passage of different molecules and pathogens, and the mechanisms pathogens have evolved to penetrate mucus barriers. It hopes to provide the foundation for a theoretical framework that captures general principles governing selectivity in mucus, and likely other biological hydrogels such as the extracellular matrix, and bacterial biofilms. The Lab’s work may also be the basis for the reconstitution of synthetic gels that mimic the basic selective properties of biological gels.

Hadley Sikes

Hadley Sikes

Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering

Website Link Sikes Lab

    • Metabolic Engineering and Biotechnology
    • Molecular and Cellular Microbiology
sikes@mit.edu 617.253.5224
Short Bio

Our efforts focus on engineering biomolecular systems to detect and treat disease in new ways.  We use the principles of engineering design to support and extend the practice of evidence-based diagnosis and selection of therapy.

Engineering design starts with interviewing intended users to formulate a quantitative problem statement and to understand the context and constraints for a new medical test. In the area of infectious disease, proteins in bodily fluids can indicate malaria or tuberculosis. The protein identity, quantity, and bodily fluid varies with the disease. In cancer, particular epigenetic and post-translational protein modifications can predict which therapies are likely to be effective against an individual tumor. We use an understanding of thermodynamics, kinetics, and transport phenomena to design medical tests that simultaneously meet design criteria for analytical performance, assay time, cost, robustness, and infrastructural requirements. We iteratively test prototypes with clinical collaborators to assess and improve real-world utility.

Anthony Sinskey

Anthony Sinskey

Professor of Microbiology and Health Sciences & Technology

Website Link Sinskey Lab

    • Biochemical, Chemical, and Structural Microbiology
asinskey@mit.edu 617-253-6721
Short Bio

Anthony J. Sinskey, Sc.D., is a Professor of Microbiology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and holds positions as Co-Director of the Malaysia-MIT Biotechnology Partnership Program and as Faculty Director of the MIT Center for Biomedical Innovation (CBI). He conducts interdisciplinary research in metabolic engineering focusing on the fundamental physiology, biochemistry and molecular genetics of important organisms. Dr. Sinskey is well known in the biopharmaceutical industry and has been a Scientific Co-founder of several biotechnology companies, including Genzyme Corporation, Natural Pharmaceuticals, Metabolix, Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, and Tepha. Dr. Sinskey has given more than 300 presentations at U.S. and International scientific meetings and congresses. He has received 31 issued patents, has made more than 30 invention disclosures and has published more than 300 scientific papers in leading peer-reviewed journals for biology, metabolic engineering, and biopolymer engineering.

Gregory Stephanopolous

Gregory Stephanopolous

Willard Henry Dow Professor in Chemical Engineering

Website Link Metabolic Engineering Lab

    • Bioinformatics and Computational Microbiology
    • Metabolic Engineering and Biotechnology
gregstep@mit.edu 617-253-4583
Short Bio

Professor Stephanopoulos currently works in Cambridge, at the Department of Chemical Engineering of MIT, focusing on biotechnology, specifically metabolic and biochemical engineering. He is the Director of the Metabolic Engineering Laboratory. His group of approximately 20 graduate students and post-docs conducts research on various projects aiming at the development of biological production routes to chemical products and biofuels. Another program is investigating cancer as metabolic disease. More information about on-going research can be found in the research page of this site.

Gregory Stephanopoulos C.V.

Roger Summons

Roger Summons

Professor of Geobiology

Website Link

    • Ecology and Environmental/Geo Microbiology
    • Microbial Oceanography
rsummons@mit.edu 617-452-2791
Short Bio

Roger Summons has wide ranging interests in biogeochemistry and geobiology. His research group studies the co-evolution of Earth’s early life and environment, microbially dominated ecosystems, the structure and biosynthesis of membrane lipids, biological mass extinction events and the origins of fossil fuels. Specific areas of interest include lipid chemistry of geologically significant microbes, organic and isotopic indicators of climate change, biomarkers in sediments and petroleum, origins of life and early life on the Earth.

Summons is an investigator in the Simons Foundation Collaboration on the Origins of Life (SCOL).

He is also a member of the Sample Analysis on Mars (SAM) instrument team. SAM is a key part of the instrument payload aboard NASA’s Curiosity Rover and is being used to study organic matter within the rocks on Mars. He joined the MIT faculty in 2001.

Bruce Tidor

Bruce Tidor

Professor of Biological Engineering and Computer Science

Website Link Tidor Lab

    • Bioinformatics and Computational Microbiology
    • Genomics and Systems Microbiology
    • Immunology and Host-Microbe Interactions
tidor@mit.edu 617-253-7258
Short Bio

Our research is focused on the analysis of complex biological systems at both the molecular level and the systems level. Our molecular work concentrates on the structure and properties of proteins, nucleic acids, and their complexes. Investigations probe the sources of stability and specificity that drive folding and binding events of macromolecules. Studies are aimed at dissecting the interactions responsible for the specific structure of folded proteins and the binding geometry of molecular complexes. The roles played by salt bridges, hydrogen bonds, side-chain packing, rotameric states, solvation, and the hydrophobic effect in native biomolecules are being explored, and strategies for re-casting these roles through structure-based molecular design are being developed.

Christopher Voigt

Christopher Voigt

Professor of Biological Engineering

Website Link Voigt Lab

    • Bioenergy and Metabolic Diversity
cavoigt@gmail.com 617-324-4851
Short Bio

Genetic engineering is undergoing a revolution, where next-generation technologies for DNA and host manipulation are enabling larger and more ambitious projects in biotechnology. Automated DNA synthesis has advanced to where it is routine to order sequences >100,000bp where every base is user-specified, the turnaround time is several weeks, and the cost is rapidly declining. Recently, this facilitated the synthesis of a complete 1 Mbp genome of a bacterium and its transfer into a new host, resulting in a living cell. However, while whole genomes can be constructed, the ability to design such systems is lagging. The focus of my lab is to develop new experimental and theoretical methods to push the scale of genetic engineering, with the ultimate objective of genome design. This will impact the engineering of biology for a broad range of applications, including agriculture, materials, chemicals, and medicine.

Bruce Walker

Bruce Walker

Professor of the Practice, MIT IMES; Director, Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Website Link MIT Biology

Website Link Ragon Institute

    • Genomics and Systems Microbiology
    • Immunology and Host-Microbe Interactions
walkerb@mit.edu 857-268-7073
Short Bio

Bruce Walker investigates cellular immune responses in chronic human viral infections, with a particular focus on HIV immunology and vaccine development. The overarching goal of my laboratory is to define the interplay of immunologic, virologic and host genetic factors that determine control of human viral infections, to guide vaccine development and immunotherapeutic interventions. To address this goal, we focus on HIV infection.

Ron Weiss

Ron Weiss

Professor of Biological Engineering

Website Link Weiss Lab

    • Bioinformatics and Computational Microbiology
rweiss@mit.edu 617-715-4150
Short Bio

The Weiss Laboratory seeks to create integrated biological systems capable of autonomously performing useful tasks, and to elucidate the design principles underlying complex phenotypes. Cells sense their environment, process information, and continuously react to both internal and external stimuli. The construction of synthetic gene networks can help improve our understanding of such naturally existing regulatory functions within cells. Synthetic gene networks will also enable a wide range of new programmed cells applications. We use computer engineering principles of abstraction, composition, and interface specifications to program cells with sensors and actuators precisely controlled by analog and digital logic circuitry.