Sassetti, Sontheimer elected fellows of the American Academy of Microbiology

By Megan Bard

UMass Medical School Communications

March 09, 2016

UMass Medical School scientists Christopher M. Sassetti, PhD, professor of microbiology & physiological systems, and Erik J. Sontheimer, PhD, professor of molecular medicine, have been elected fellows of the American Academy of Microbiology for advancing the field of microbiology through their original contributions and scientific achievement.

Chris Sassetti, PhD  

Christopher M. Sassetti, PhD

 
   
Erik Sontheimer, PhD  

Erik J. Sontheimer, PhD

 

Elected in a highly selective peer-reviewed process, Drs. Sassetti and Sontheimer join 76 others inducted in 2016 as fellows of the academy, which is the honorific leadership group of the American Society for Microbiology, the world’s oldest and largest life sciences organization. In total, there are more than 2,400 fellows worldwide, including 15 from UMMS.

Sassetti’s research focuses on the physiology of tuberculosis, one of the most devastating diseases in the world. Sassetti is working to understand how the host responds to infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis and the mechanisms used by the pathogen to overcome these insults. Understanding the fundamental biology that determines protection from disease will lead to more rational approaches to diagnostics, antimicrobials and vaccines. 

The goal of the Sontheimer lab is to uncover and understand the roles of RNA molecules during gene expression. Sontheimer’s research focuses on the fundamental biological roles of RNA molecules, and on the uses of RNAs in biomedical research and disease treatment. His current emphasis is on mechanisms of genetic interference pathways specified by CRISPR loci in pathogenic bacteria and on the use of CRISPR systems in genome editing.

Sassetti and Sontheimer join these other UMMS faculty as AAM fellows:

  • Roger J. Davis, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, the H. Arthur Smith Chair in Cancer Research and professor of molecular medicine and biochemistry & molecular pharmacology;
  • James Reid Gilmore, PhD, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology;
  • Douglas T. Golenbock, MD, the Pillar Chair in Biomedical Research and professor of medicine and microbiology & physiological systems;
  • Allan S. Jacobson, PhD, the Gerald L. Haidak, MD, and Zelda S. Haidak Professor of Cell Biology and chair and professor of microbiology & physiological systems;
  • Stuart M. Levitz, MD, professor of medicine;
  • Jeremy Luban, MD, the David L. Freelander Memorial Professor in HIV/AIDS Research and professor of molecular medicine
  • Martin G. Marinus, PhD, professor emeritus of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology
  • Beth McCormick, PhD, vice chair and professor of microbiology & physiological systems;
  • Trudy Morrison, PhD, professor of microbiology & physiological systems;
  • Thoru Pederson, PhD, the Vitold Arnett Professor of Cell Biology and professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology;
  • Oliver Rando, MD, PhD, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology;
  • Peter A. Rice, MD, professor of medicine;
  • Celia Schiffer, PhD, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology;
  • Raymond Welsh, PhD, professor of pathology and microbiology & physiological systems; and 
  • George B. Witman, PhD, the George F. Booth Chair in the Basic Sciences and professor of cell & developmental biology
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