sociomicrobiology, quorum sensing, biofilm biology, regulation of virulence genes
Dr. Greenberg holds a BA in Biology from Western Washington University, a MS in Microbiology from the University of Iowa and a PhD in Microbiology from the University of Massachusetts. After his postdoctoral at Harvard University Dr. Greenberg was on the faculty at Cornell University and then the University of Iowa College of Medicine before moving to the University of Washington in 2005. Dr. Greenberg is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and the American Academy of Microbiology. He is widely credited for founding the quorum sensing field.
The research in Dr. Greenberg’s laboratory is focused on the emerging field of sociomicrobiology. He is principally concerned with three aspects of sociomicrobiology: I. The biochemistry and molecular biology of environmental sensing and response in bacteria with a particular emphasis on a form of chemical communication between bacteria termed quorum sensing. II. The mechanisms by which bacteria switch from a nomadic existence to a sessile biofilm lifestyle and the mechanisms underlying the ability of biofilm bacteria to survive the action of antibiotics. III. The ways in which clonal populations of bacteria can discriminate themselves from other clonal populations. All of these phenomena are of importance in pathogenesis. Dr. Greenberg has concentrated much of his effort on Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic pathogenic bacterium that can cause both acute and persistent biofilm infections. Quorum sensing allows certain bacterial species to monitor their own population density and respond by activating transcription of specific sets of genes. Current investigations of gene regulation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa serve as the model for this type of sensing system. The Greenberg lab is studying the binding of the signal to the receptor, the synthesis of the signal, the mechanism of gene activation by this chemical communication system, and the targets of quorum sensing control. Quorum sensing in P. aeruginosa is required for biofilm development and this has led to an effort to understand gene expression in biofilms. The Greenberg lab has identified key regulatory elements that define commitment steps in the development of biofilms and these serve as targets for novel antibiofilm therapeutic development.