Bonnie Bassler is Squibb Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton
University and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She has been
called the "Bacteria Whisperer.” Her research focuses on the molecular mechanisms
that bacteria use for intercellular communication. She seeks to understand how bacteria
detect multiple environmental cues, and how the integration and processing of this
information results in the precise regulation of gene expression. Bassler has discovered
"quorum sensing" or how bacteria talk to each other to attack a host, triggering disease.
The implications of this discovery for medical science are significant. The discovery,
for which she won a MacArthur "Genius" grant, shows how cell populations evade immune
systems and forge defenses called biofilms. Her findings offer hope to researchers
seeking new weapons against drug-resistant superbugs. In 2015 Dr. Bassler delivered
a set of talks for the Della Pietra Lecture Series at the Simons Center for Geometry
and Physics at Stony Brook University.