Princeton’s Bonnie Bassler Wins the Canada Gairdner International Award

Bonnie Bassler, the Squibb Professor in Molecular Biology at Princeton University in New Jersey is sharing the Canada Gairdner International Award 2023 alongside her colleagues Michael Silverman, an emeritus adjunct professor with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego and E. Peter Greenberg of the University of Washington School of Medicine. The researchers were honored “for their discoveries of how bacteria communicate with each other and surrounding non-bacterial cells, providing a new paradigm for how microbes behave and yielding novel avenues for therapeutics against infectious diseases.”

This process, called quorum sensing, relies on the production, detection, and response to extracellular signal molecules. Quorum sensing allows bacteria to coordinate their activities, and as groups, accomplish tasks that would be unproductive if a single bacterium undertook them alone. Professor Bassler’s work has increased the understanding of microbes and illuminated innovative approaches to promoting health and preventing disease.

“I have followed the Gairdner Award for my entire career,” said Dr. Bassler. “Each year, I am awestruck by the pioneering scientists selected as winners. I never dared to imagine myself a member of that group, so winning the prize far exceeds my dreams.”

The Gairdner Foundation, established in 1957, is dedicated to fulfilling James A. Gairdner’s vision to recognize major research contributions to the treatment of disease and alleviation of human suffering. Through annual awards, the Gairdner Foundation celebrates the world’s most creative and accomplished researchers whose work is improving the health and well-being of people around the world. Since its inception, 410 awards have been bestowed on laureates from over 40 countries, and of those awardees, 96 have gone on to receive Nobel Prizes.

Dr. Bassler is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Medicine. She is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, where she majored in biochemistry and holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

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