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14th Annual Microbial Sciences Initiative (MSI) Symposium Explores the Richest Biological Reservoir on Earth: The Microbial World

14th Annual Microbial Sciences Initiative (MSI) Symposium Explores the Richest Biological Reservoir on Earth: The Microbial World

Microbes (including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protists) are ubiquitous on earth and affect every part of our lives.  Yet they are mostly invisible, and the vast majority of microbes are still unknown to us.  On Saturday, April 15th, eight prominent microbial scientists hailing from a wide variety of disciplines will share their investigations into these enigmatic microbes during the Fourteenth Annual Microbial Sciences Symposium.  This all-day event, which is free and open to the public, is hosted by the Harvard MSI and will be held in the Science Center on the Cambridge campus.

The MSI at Harvard is an interdisciplinary program (spanning the fields of molecular biology, engineering, physics, evolutionary biology, genetics, environmental microbiology and microbial ecology) focused on understanding the microbial world.  Co-directed by Colleen Cavanaugh (OEB) and Roberto Kolter (Microbiology and Immunobiology, HMS), the MSI links researchers in FAS, SEAS, HMS, HSDM, and HSPH.  The Microbial Sciences Symposium is the largest and most visible event that MSI sponsors, and its aim is to stimulate discussion among members of the scientific community and help strengthen integrative science programs.

Symposium topics reflect the enormous value MSI places on interdisciplinary research.  At this year’s event, Katharina Ribbeck from MIT will talk about the physics of microbes penetrating mucus barriers.  Rachel Carmody (HEB) will lecture on the interdependence of the microbial and human diet.  HSPH’s Bill Hanage will talk about bacterial population genomics.  Carrie Harwood from the University of Washington (UW) will present on bacterial longevity.  Also from UW, Pete Greenberg will talk about bacteria quorum sensing.  Now at the Northeastern Marine Science Center, Dan Distel will describe the symbionts of shipworms.  Cammie Lesser from HMS/MGH will share the story of how her lab is reengineering bacterial secretion systems to deliver therapeutic molecules.  And finally, David Nelson (Physics) will talk about range expansions in structured environments.

The MSI Symposium begins on April 15th at 8:30 am with a light breakfast followed by the lecture series.  The audience is free to explore the Harvard Square area for lunch from 12:00 until 2:00 pm.  At 5:00 pm the MSI is hosting a catered reception for symposium speakers and participants.

Microbial Sciences Initiative (MSI)

Karen Lachmayr