Harvard University - Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology


Harvard College Professor
Maria Moors Cabot Professor of Biology

Email: losick@mcb.harvard.edu
Phone: 617-495-4905

Mail: BL 3023
The Biological Labs
16 Divinity Ave
Cambridge, MA  02138

Losick Lab Homepage
Members of the Losick Lab
List of Publications from PubMed


MCB 381. Microbial Development
Catalog Number: 4994  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term; Repeated Spring Term 2013-2014.   Credit: Half course.
Instructor: Richard Losick
Course Level: Graduate Course
LIFESCI 1a. An Integrated Introduction to the Life Sciences: Chemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology
Catalog Number: 2137  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term 2013-2014.   Credit: Half course.
Instructors: Daniel Kahne, Richard Losick, Robert Lue
Course Level: Primarily for Undergraduates
Description: What are the fundamental features of living systems? What are the molecules imparting them and how do their chemical properties explain their biological roles? The answers form a basis for understanding the molecules of life, the cell, diseases, and medicines. In contrast with traditional presentations of relevant scientific disciplines in separate courses, we take an integrated approach, presenting chemistry, molecular biology, biochemistry, and cell biology framed within central problems such as the biology of HIV and cancer.
Note: For more information about the assignment process, please see the course website in the fall. This course, in combination with Life Sciences 1b, constitutes an integrated introduction to the Life Sciences. This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the General Education requirement in Science of Living Systems or the Core area requirement for Science A.
Meetings: Tu., Th., 1–2:30;
LIFESCI 120. Global Health Threats
Catalog Number: 98532  View Course Website
Term: Spring Term 2013-2014.   Credit: Half course.
Instructors: Barry Bloom, Richard Losick
Course Level: For Undergraduates and Graduates
Description: The multidisciplinary application of epidemiology, molecular biology and genetics, pathogenesis, drug discovery, immunology and vaccine development, and economic analysis to understanding and combating major threats to human health in developing countries. Emphasis will be on critical readings and scientific writing. Grades will be based on papers in which students will propose the application of multidisciplinary approaches to global health threats not covered in lecture.
Prerequisite(s): Life Sciences 1a and 1b or LPSA and one additional course from the following: Chemistry 27, Engineering 53, Life Sciences 2, MCB 52, MCB 54, OEB 10, OEB 53, or SCRB 10, or permission of the instructors.
Meetings: Tu., Th., 1-2:30
(View all MCB Courses)


Our laboratory studies development in the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus subtilis. B. subtilis undergoes an elaborate cycle of cellular differentiation that culminates in the formation of a dormant cell type, the spore. Spore formation involves the transformation of a vegetative cell into a two-compartment sporangium by asymmetric division. The compartments receive an identical chromosome yet have dissimilar developmental fates involving differential expression of distinct sets of genes. We seek to elucidate the entire regulatory circuit that governs entry into sporulation, cell-specific gene expression, and the linkage of gene expression to landmark events in morphogenesis. Other topics of interest are protein subcellular localization, chromosome segregation, intercellular signaling, and the formation of architecturally complex communities of cells.


Chai Y, Chu, F., Kolter, R., Losick R. Bistability and biofilm formation in Bacillus subtilis. Molecular Microbiol. 67:254-63 (2008).

Vlamakis, H., Aguilar, C., Losick, R., Kolter, R. Control of cell fate by the formation of an architecturally complex bacterial community. Genes and Development 22:945-953 (2008).

Losick, R. and Desplan, C. Stochasticity and Cell Fate. Science 320:65-68 (2008).

Handler, A.A., Lim, J.E., and Losick, R. Peptide inhibitor of cytokinesis during sporulation in Bacillus subtilis. Molecular Microbiol. 68:588-599 (2008).

Bosak, T. Losick, R., and Pearson, A. A polycyclic terpenoid that alleviates oxidative stress. PNAS 105:6725-6729 (2008).

Chu, F., Kearns, D.B., McLoon, A., Chai, Y., Kolter, R., and Losick R. A novel regulatory protein governing biofilm formation in Bacillus subtilis. Molecular Microbiol. 68:1117-1127 (2008).

Camp, A.H., and Losick, R. A novel pathway of intercellular signalling in Bacillus subtilis involves a protein with similarity to a component of type III secretion channels. Molecular Microbiol. 69:402-417 (2008).

Ramamurthi KS, Losick R. ATP-driven self-assembly of a morphogenetic protein in Bacillus subtilis. Molec. Cell. 31:406-14 (2008).

Kontnik R., Bosak T., Butcher R.A., Brocks J.J., Losick R., Clardy J., Pearson A. Sporulenes, heptaprenyl metabolites from Bacillus subtilis spores. Org Lett. 10:3551-4 (2008).

Kain J., He G.G., Losick R. Polar localization and compartmentalization of ClpP proteases during growth and sporulation in Bacillus subtilis. J Bacteriol. 190:6749-57 (2008).

Banse A.V., Chastanet A., Rahn-Lee L., Hobbs E.C., Losick R. Parallel pathways of repression and antirepression governing the transition to stationary phase in Bacillus subtilis. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci.105:15547-52 USA (2008).

Lopez, D., Fischbach, M.A., Chu, F., Losick, R., and Kolter, R. Potassium Leakage Triggers Multiellularity in a Bacterium. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106:280-285 (2009).

Ramamurthi, K. and Losick, R. Geometric Cue for Protein Localization in a Bacterium. Science, 323 (2009).

Camp, A.H. and Losick, R. A Feeding Tube Model for Activation of a Cell-Specific Transcription Factor during Sporulation in Bacillus subtilis. Genes & Development 23:1014-1024 (2009).

updated: 04/15/2014