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Bonnie Bassler

Bonnie Bassler, PhD

Squibb Professor of Molecular Biology, Princeton University
Howard Hughes Medical Investigator
VVP 2015: Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Berlin (host: Arturo Zychlinsky)

Bonnie Bassler’s research focuses on the molecular mechanisms that bacteria use for intercellular communication, a process called quorum sensing. Her work is paving the way to the development of novel therapies for combating bacteria by disrupting quorum-sensing-mediated communication.

Bonnie Bassler received a BS in Biochemistry from the University of California at Davis, and a PhD in Biochemistry from the Johns Hopkins University. She performed postdoctoral work in Genetics at the Agouron Institute. In 1994 she joined the Princeton faculty where she teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses.

Dr Bassler is a passionate advocate for diversity in the sciences and is actively involved in educating lay people. She is an elected member or fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Royal Society, the American Academy of Microbiology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, EMBO, and the American Society for Cell Biology.

Dr Bassler’s many awards and honors include a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (2002); the American Society for Microbiology’s Eli Lilly Investigator Award (2006) for fundamental contributions to microbiological research; Princeton University’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching (2008); the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Science (2009) for her paradigm-changing scientific research;  the National Academy's Richard Lounsbery Award (2011), and the 2012 UNESCO-L’Oreal Woman in Science for North America. In 2015 Bonnie Bassler and Everett Peter Greenberg received the Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine for their discovery of quorum sensing. This was followed by the Ricketts Award (2015); the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize (2016), the FASEB Excellence in Science Award (2016); the Max Planck Research Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2016); the Dickson Prize in Medicine (2018); and the Ernst Schering Prize in 2018. In 2020 she received the Gruber Prize in Genetics for her groundbreaking discoveries, and the Genetics Society of America Medal. The following year she was awarded the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize. In 2022, Bassler received the Microbiology Society Prize Medal and the Wolf Prize in Chemistry and, in 2023, Bassler received the Canada Gairdner International Award, the Princess of Asturias Award, and the Albany Prize.

Dr Bassler has performed a remarkable amount of national and international service which includes serving as President of the American Society for Microbiology (2010-2011); chairing the Board of Governors of the American Academy of Microbiology (2011-2014); and serving for six years as a member of the National Science Board, a position to which she was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2010.  The Board oversees the NSF and prioritizes the nation’s research and educational activities in science, math, and engineering.