Allan Spradling Introducing Bonnie Bassler as the
2020 Gruber Genetics Prize Recipient:
Dr. Bassler, the Prize Committee recognizes you for your extraordinary ability, almost with regularity, to transcend the arc of normal science and discover previously unimagined aspects of the natural world. Your formula for success is not a secret- you apply a succession of appropriate and rigorous techniques, either in your own lab or through close productive collaborations, that focus relentlessly on the question at hand, until you reach astonishing outcomes. Without so much as a pause, you follow up on the new ideas, model them, and test their practical implications.
The fruits of your studies include intercellular signals of unprecedented structure, the receptors and genes they control, and novel mechanisms by which they are regulated. Your work provides a deeper understanding of how quorum sensing signals connect the environment with the microbial world, allowing different bacterial species to communicate with each other, with their parasites, and with their eukaryotic hosts.
As a result of your work, we now see the constantly communicating microbiological world as a vastly more sophisticated and integral part of life on Earth. Your work brings microbes closer to our view of our own bodies, whose ability to coordinate cellular actions by signaling gives rise to collective properties that infinitely exceed those of its component parts. You have shown us the possibility of fighting pathogens not simply by trying to more efficiently kill them, but by telling them in their own language that it’s time to stop.
Finally, with your legendary energy you help the scientific community provide broader opportunities for the next generation of researchers, and you communicate to the greater public the importance, excitement, and true nature of scientific discovery.
April 24, 2020, via ZOOM