2020 Gruber Genetics Prize

Geneticist Bonnie Bassler, PhD, of Princeton University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has revolutionized the field of microbiology with her pioneering discoveries regarding the phenomenon of quorum sensing, the process by which bacteria communicate with each other, both within and across species. More recently, she demonstrated that bacteria-infecting viruses, known as phages, eavesdrop on bacterial conversations and use the information they garner to enhance their own survival. These findings have played a central role in expanding our understanding of how the microbiome influences human health. They also offer exciting possibilities for manipulating bacterial communication to treat and prevent disease.