News Listing

Sokurenko Lab research into a novel antibody with potential therapeutic uses against E. coli is featured here.

Congratulations to Joseph Mougous who has been named as one of 26 new HHMI Investigators. With this appointment, Joseph joins a very select group of highly innovative and productive scholars across the nation who are at the forefront of their respective fields.  For more information about the announcement go to the HHMI web site.

Department News

The Microbiology Department welcomes our incoming graduate students:

Renae Cruz (University of California, Los Angeles)

Alex Pollock (University of California, Berkeley)

Brittany Ruhland (Tufts University)

Sofiya Shevchenko (University of Toronto)

Justin Ulrich-Lewis (University of Michigan) 

Daniel Vogt (University of Wisconsin)

Congratulations to Dr. Pete Greenberg, who will share the very distinguished 2015 Shaw Prize in Life Sciences and Medicine with Princeton professor Dr. Bonnie Bassler for "their discovery of quorum sensing, a process whereby bacteria communicate with each other and which offers innovative ways to interfere with bacterial pathogens or to modulate the microbiome for health applications."  See more about the Shaw Prize here.
Congratulations to Josh Woodward for being named a Pew scholar in the biomedical sciences by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Dr. Woodward joins 21 other promising early-career biomedical researchers in receiving this prestigious honor, which recognizes "their dedication to pursuing the high-risk, high-reward research that can lead to extraordinary findings in bioscience." Find out more about the award here.

We are very proud of graduate students in the Microbiology Department who were recognized this month for excellence and outstanding effort. Mayumi Holly (Jason Smith lab) was awarded the Neal Groman Microbiology Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Teaching; Mayim Wiens (also from the Smith lab) received the Helen Riaboff Whiteley Fellowship Award; and Alevtina Gall (Molecular and Cellular Biology program, Nina Salama lab) was awarded the Stanley Falkow Microbiology Graduate Student Award. Congratulations to each of these awardees!

The University of Washington Microbiology Department was ranked #2 in "Best Global Universities for Microbiology" by U.S. News and World Report, up from #3 last year! More info here.

Postdoc John Whitney, part of a research team led by Joseph Mougous, UW Associate Professor of Microbiology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, is featured in this UW Health Sciences NewsBeat article about the team's research into how Pseudomonas aeruginosa is able to deliver a deadly toxin to competitor bacteria.

Faculty News

Congratulations to Houra Merrikh, Ph.D., who was awarded the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science. Read more about this prestigious award here and view a short video here about Dr. Merrikh's journey from Tehran to the University of Washington. Dr. Merrikh was recognized for her work in "uncovering hidden conflicts between the machinery that copies DNA in living cells and the one that transcribes its genetic code." The Vilcek Foundation raises awareness of immigrant contributions in America and fosters appreciation of the arts and sciences. Click here to find out more about the Vilcek Prizes.

Faculty News

Associate Professor Deb Fuller, Ph.D., collaborated with other UW researchers to develop a computationally designed protein that may have anti-viral and therapeutic benefits against flu viruses. Read more about their research here.

Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) graduate student Erica Sanchez was awarded the UW Graduate Student Medal, which is given to recognize Ph.D. candidates whose academic expertise and social awareness are integrated in a way that demonstrates an exemplary commitment to the University and its larger community. Find out more about the award here.

The Microbiology Department welcomes our newest faculty member, Jenny Hyde, Ph.D. 

Dr. Hyde comes to us from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, where she had her post-doctoral appointment. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Queensland. Dr. Hyde's research focus is in virology.

Eleven undergraduate students were honored with various awards on June 2 during the department's annual celebration for graduating seniors and for current students demonstrating outstanding achievement. Undergraduate awardees, from left to right: Lydia Sweet, Research Award; Helen Warheit-Niemi, Research Award; Elaina Milton, Research Award; Bailey Marshall, Jacques Chiller Award; Vy Dang, Research Award; Claire Chisholm, Education Award; Matthew Hryniewicki, Charles A. and Allie Ann Evans Award; Michael Matwichuk, Research Award; Yashmira Naidoo, Don Bassett Award; Emily Anderson, Erling Ordal Award; and Elizabeth Thayer, David T. Kingsbury Award. Congratulations to all awardees and to all 89 graduating seniors!

Professor Carrie Harwood and colleagues have engineered a bacterium that can take carbon dioxide from the air and turn it into fuel in a single enzymatic step. The process draws on sunlight to produce methane and hydrogen inside the bacterium Rhodopseudomonas palustris, in essence reversing combustion. These engineered bacteria could guide scientists toward better carbon-neutral biofuels. Read more about the research here. The full paper is published in the September 22, 2016, edition of PNAS.

Microbiology Professor Evgeni Sokurenko's Seattle biotech startup, ID Genomics is developing a solution to that conundrum: a system that tests the biological “fingerprint” of a bacteria and connects it to a huge database to determine what bacteria it is, and what the best treatment is. Click here to read the full article. 

UW Micro has done well on yet another international ranking of Microbiology programs, with the Center for World University Rankings listing our department as the third best in the world behind Harvard and John Hopkins. See the list here.

A new study describes how head-on collisions between protein machines on chromosomes can disrupt DNA replication and boost the rate of gene mutations that help bacteria survive hostile environments, resist antibiotics, and blunt attacks by immune defenses.


The Department of Microbiology is proud to announce Brittany Ruhland (Reniere Lab) has been named the 2017 Neal Groman Award Winner, and Adelle McFarland (Woodward Lab) has been named the 2017 Helen Riaboff Whitely Fellowship Winner. 

The UW Department of Microbiology is proud to announce that our own Dr. Houra Merrikh has been named a 2018 National Academy of Sciences Kavli Fellow for her leadership and contributions to her field. She will present her work at a symposium, February 15-17, 2018 at UC Irvine.

Eight University of Washington researchers are among the 396 new fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, announced this week. Election as a fellow of AAAS is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers. Fellows are recognized for meritorious efforts to advance science or its applications.

Getting a flu shot every year can be a pain. One UW Medicine researcher is hoping to make the yearly poke a thing of the past with the development of a universal vaccine that would protect from all strains of influenza virus, even as the viruses genetically shape-shift from year to year.

Nitrogen-fixing bacteria are the chief means by which nitrogen gas in the air is changed into a form that plants and animals can use. Roughly 10 percent of these nitrogen-fixing microorganisms contain the genetic code for manufacturing a back-up enzyme, called iron iron-only nitrogenase, to do their job.

Recent research reveals that this enzyme allows these microorganisms to convert nitrogen gas to ammonia and carbon dioxide into methane at the same time. The ammonia is the main product; the methane is only a sideline.

This enzymatic pathway is a previously unknown route for the natural biological production of methane.

The findings are reported Jan. 15 in Nature Microbiology. The senior author is Caroline Harwood, the Gerald and Lyn Grinstein Endowed Professor of Microbiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The lead author is Yanning Zheng, a postdoctoral student in her lab.

Read the paper and watch an animation by the researchers explaining their findings.

A single scoop of sediment collected from the bottom of Lake Washington may not look like much to the untrained eye, but for UW researchers, the complex microbial communities living in the mud might hold the key to a cleaner world.

 The UW medical school’s graduate program in microbiology tied for second in the nation!