Harvard University - Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology


by Richard Saltus

January 4th, 2013

Assistant Professor Ethan Garner has been selected for a three-year, $300,000 award from the Smith Family Awards Program for Excellence in Biomedical Research.

The program was created in 1991 by the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation, with the goal of launching the careers of newly independent biomedical researchers in Massachusetts with the aim of achieving medical breakthroughs. Garner is one of three winners for 2012.

This prestigious award is so competitive that only about  5 percent of proposals are funded.  Garner said, “My proposal was to build a mechanistic understanding of how bacteria grow, by directly visualizing the spatial activity of enzymes and cytoskeletal filaments that construct the cell wall.”

One potential application of his group’s research is to find new methods to control antibiotic-resistant infections. He uses his techniques to directly watch how antibiotics stop these motions and the cell growth. “Antibiotic resistance is an increasing problem today. If we can understand mechanistically how bacterial growth works, we could design new ways to inhibit that process and develop new antibiotics to treat resistant infections more effectively.” This award will allow him to fund two promising postdocs to do this work.

Garner received his PhD from the University of California San Francisco in 2008, and joined MCB in 2012. His laboratory’s research focus is on the organization, structure and dynamics of the prokaryotic cytoplasm.

MCB Associate Professor Naoshige Uchida received a Smith Family Foundation award in 2007, and says, “The generous support provided by the Smith Award helped enormously in starting my lab and explore new directions.”

View Ethan Garner's Faculty Profile