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James M. Slauch


Microbes drive all aspects of life on the planet. Finding solutions to many of our pressing global challenges, such as skyrocketing antimicrobial resistance, emergence of new infectious diseases, and the health of our planet’s ecosystems, will depend upon discoveries from basic microbiology research. The Department of Microbiology at the University of Illinois has developed and maintained the highest national and international reputation for more than 100 years. We have built upon our distinguished history (evidenced by the recent designation as a “Milestones in Microbiology” site by the American Society for Microbiology) by recruiting and retaining outstanding microbiologists who are making exciting discoveries in diverse fields while training students in cutting edge research. Our research faculty are highly productive and impactful. Eight of the ten current senior faculty have been elected Fellows of the American Academy of Microbiology.

James M. Slauch, Head

Microbiology News

Alumni Professor of Microbiology John E. Cronan at the University of Illinois recently published work on the biotin synthesis pathway and its role in mycobacterium and tuberculosis. Cronan’s lab primarily works on lipid metabolism and fatty acid synthesis. In his recent publication, Cronan takes a deeper dive into the role of biotin in the growth of mycobacteria.
On January 9, 2020, the World Health Organization announced the discovery of a mysterious string of pneumonia-like cases in Wuhan, China, which they believed could be caused by a novel coronavirus. At the same time in Illinois, executives at the medical device and healthcare company Abbott Laboratories were activating their crisis management system. As a global corporation, Abbott homed in on the outbreak both to ensure continued access of its critical healthcare products as well as devising plans to help with the growing need for quality diagnostics. Among those carefully watching the global impact at Abbott was Illinois microbiology alumna Lauren Seaver (BS ’98, MS ‘01, PhD ’04).
Danielle Campbell, a microbiology PhD graduate of the Whitaker Lab, recently studied the interaction of the active prophage, Bacteroides phage BV01, in its tractable host strain, B. vulgatus ATCC 8482. Bacteroides, known to degrade complex carbohydrates and interact with host immune cells, are one of the most common bacterial types in the human gut. The gut phageome is linked to diseases including inflammatory bowel disease, malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, and colorectal cancer, among others. By altering the activity of their bacterial hosts, gut-associated phages contribute to these effects in human health, making it an exciting field of research.
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In Memoriam

Remembering Dr. Ralph Wolfe
Remembering Dr. Abigail Salyers