Latest Blog Posts
Wednesday, 26 July 2017 10:59

For scientists it is imperative to relay your research to your colleagues through published papers.  But what if you find the idea of writing overwhelming – daunting even?  You struggle to stay motivated despite the many lab (and non-lab) distractions.  We reached out to senior doctoral students and postdocs who have experienced and overcome these obstacles.  Check out their 8 tips to begin writing your paper today!

Tuesday, 25 July 2017 10:36

With WiSci 2017 soon to be under way in Malawi,  WiSci 2016 attendee  Leslie Anasu Espinoza Campomanes and WiSci 2016 counselor Paola Moreno-Roman reflect on how this initiative impacted their lives  

Monday, 24 July 2017 13:10

When laboratories provide susceptibility reports to clinicians, they must decide whether to include minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs) or to report categorical interpretations (such as susceptible or resistant) alone. In some cases knowing the MIC value can help doctors, but in other cases it may just be… TMI.

Friday, 21 July 2017 16:45

Farmers want their livestock to put on weight quickly so they can increase profits when they sell their animals. A new Applied and Environmental Microbiology study reports a possible link between gut microbiome makeup and feed efficiency, one of the determinants of animal growth rate. This study may lay the groundwork for microbiome manipulation to help farms reduce the use of antibiotics as growth promoters.

Thursday, 20 July 2017 16:25

Elite controllers are HIV-infected individuals who maintain undetectable virus levels even when not administered antiretroviral drugs. Understanding how the immune system of these elite controllers acts against HIV may help scientists develop effective therapeutics or vaccines. A new Journal of Virology study shows that antibodies from elite controllers activate ADCC-mediated killing of HIV-infected cells. 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017 11:42

Bench-level clinical microbiologists serve an important role in a clinical microbiology lab. They are often the first people to identify disease-causing pathogens, which helps medical staff with the treatment of patients. In a clinical microbiology lab, personnel management and technical management are typically the next steps to advance in your career.

Monday, 17 July 2017 14:04

Summertime brings people closer to the great outdoors - and to arthropods that can spread disease! In this week's Bugs & Drugs, we emphasize the importance of a full patient history and provide resources on infections of leisure.

Friday, 14 July 2017 15:01

Intestinal calcium induces C. difficile spore germination. Modulating intestinal calcium levels could prophylactically prevent a dangerous nosocomial infection.

Friday, 14 July 2017 13:55

Bacteria in attached biofilms have different characteristics than bacteria in planktonic culture, but neighbors can influence behavior too. A new Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy study reports that bacteria in biofilms a single-species biofilm have different drug susceptibilities than bacteria in multispecies biofilms. This research may impact the treatment of mixed biofilms in patients, such as those with cystic fibrosis, who suffer mixed biofilm infections.

Thursday, 13 July 2017 08:58

The U.S. scientific workforce doesn’t reflect the diversity of the U.S. population, though research suggests that more diverse teams have a greater scientific impact and solve problems better than less-diverse teams. Decades of effort by federal agencies, institutions of higher education, scientific societies, and others have been put into increasing the diversity of the scientific workforce, and while some progress has been made, there’s still a lot of work to do. As a faculty member, one way that you can help diversify the future STEM workforce (and your lab) is to mentor students by providing feedback on their presentations.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017 16:38

Children with Plasmodium falciparum malaria are more susceptible to invasive infection with nontyphoidal Salmonella. A new Clinical and Vaccine Immunology report finds that the immune system of malaria-infected children has lower antibacterial activity. 

Wednesday, 12 July 2017 10:44

Dr. Jennifer Groh is a Talent Development Consultant (TDC) at the Fortune 50 company, Caterpillar Inc. in Lafayette, IN. She received a Ph.D. in environmental microbiology from the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK. She became interested in motivating students to link their passions and interests with a STEM career. She worked in higher education as a Graduate Programs Coordinator and Associate Director before moving into industry. She encourages that every microbiology student should learn more about him/herself and to let others know of your interests when it’s time to getting a “real” job.


Monday, 10 July 2017 09:56

Bloodstream infections are a major cause of morbidity and mortality, and identifying the causative organism(s) is critical. Can the most important step in this process really be as simple as collecting enough volume of blood for culture? Let’s discuss some of the evidence, and the role of the clinical microbiology laboratory in this important testing process.

Saturday, 08 July 2017 13:53

The intricate microenvironment of human breast tissue supports regionally distinct microbiota, which may provide new insight to cancer risk and therapy. As a follow up to the 2016 article by Julie Wolf, the role of microbes in breast cancer is revisited, with an emphasis on the role of probiotics in breast cancer prevention.

Thursday, 06 July 2017 10:24

How do you know whether you and your colleagues teach microbiology concepts in a way that students understand and consistently recognize?  Concept inventories help instructors understand students’ retention of knowledge and identify common misconceptions. They provide assessment data that departments and institutions continually collect and analyze about student learning. They also provide an opportunity for faculty professional development and can reinforce concepts across a curriculum. 

Wednesday, 05 July 2017 13:09

In a study published this week in mSphere, researchers describe how one group of salt-loving microbes, Halanaerobium, is most likely using environmental thiosulfate to produce sulfide—a toxic and corrosive chemical that well operators would like to avoid.

Wednesday, 05 July 2017 11:13

ASM asked six ASM members included in the ASCP's "40 Under Forty" listing of young, successful scientists,"what advice do you have for those considering a career in clinical microbiology? What is the best career advice you've received?" Here is what they said.

Wednesday, 05 July 2017 10:21

Several of the American Society for Clinical Pathology's "40 Under Forty"  include young, successful ASM members, and we here at Bugs & Drugs reached out to ask them about their research and careers. 

Friday, 30 June 2017 15:35

A Nobel-winning antimalarial drug derived from a traditional Chinese herb can also help treat tuberculosis.

Thursday, 29 June 2017 09:18

Many nursing programs (particularly those offering a two-year associate’s degree in nursing) are facing pressure to reduce or eliminate microbiology in their curriculum. We invite you to join ASM’s Task Committee on Microbiology in the Nursing Curriculum at the ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators (ASMCUE) 2017 for a series of sessions on challenges facing microbiology in the nursing curriculum, ASM Curriculum Guidelines and a Toolkit to foster the inclusion of microbiology, and a community discussion surrounding these topics. 

Tuesday, 27 June 2017 15:16

Controlling mosquito-borne diseases comes in many formats, including manipulation of the bacterial endosymbiont found in many insects,  Wolbachia. A recent Journal of Virology article reports the ability of different strains of Wolbachia to inhibit Zika virus infection in mosquito cells. Which strain is best at inhibiting infection?

Monday, 26 June 2017 10:01

The success of an academic researcher and career progression depends on quantifiable metrics like the number of grants, publications, presentations, posters, etc. However, researchers also engage in many other, less tangible activities that are critical to academic success, such as mentoring people, reviewing papers and grants, serving on committees, etc. However, these activities constitute only a small part of a researcher’s application for career advancement. As a consequence, participating in these activities is not rewarded properly in academia. What general solutions might exist to better value and reward these activities in academia? Read our blog for suggestions.

Monday, 26 June 2017 09:33

Accurate diagnosis of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is challenging for all involved—clinicians, laboratorians, and patients—leaving everyone frustrated.  Current approaches to diagnosis of CDI prioritize either detection of the organism itself, or detection of toxins produced by the organism.  In this blog post, Nira Pollock explores how these diagnostic strategies differ in approach and perspective regarding the guilt of the suspect—should C. difficile be considered “innocent until proven guilty,” or “guilty until proven innocent”?

Friday, 23 June 2017 19:47

The multi-faceted nature of siderophores begins with the simple element iron, where does it end?

Friday, 23 June 2017 15:21

Scientists now know that colistin resistance is much more widespread than previously thought. A new Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy report demonstrates that the same gene, mcr-1, can confer different levels of colistin resistance when expressed in different pathogenic bacterial species. This has important clinical and surveillance implications for resistant infections. 

Thursday, 22 June 2017 08:24

The LEAP Initiative identifies 10 evidence-based, high-impact educational practices that support the success of undergraduate students. At ASM Microbe 2017, several faculty members shared their LEAP-influenced best practices for improving student outcomes. 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017 11:57

How do you seek out mentors in a clinical microbiology lab? What are some reputable resources to use? Debra Myers, a Microbiology Chief Technologist at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, shares her insights on what newly hired lab/bench technicians in clinical microbiology can do to navigate the beginning stages of their career.  

Monday, 19 June 2017 11:54

Point-of-care diagnostic testing is quickly advancing, in part due to advances in molecular testing. Our latest Bugs & Drugs post provides resources for keeping up-to-date with the latest molecular tests, including infection characteristics such as antibiotic resistance.

Friday, 16 June 2017 19:05

As paintings age, they accumulate volatile hydrocarbons, dead or living cells, dust that breed fungal spores, and bacteria. This agglomeration of material serves as a nutrient source for a number of microbes and leads to biodeterioration.

Friday, 16 June 2017 15:12

A new Applied and Environmental Microbiology report demonstrates that farm practices can directly lead to development of novel antibiotic resistance mechanisms in soil microbes. The scientific team used functional metagenomics to identify 34 antibiotic resistance determinants, including a gene conferring a novel macrolide resistance mechanism. This study avoided prophylactic antibiotic use in livestock, a practice now largely banned in Canada and the United States, and therefore highlights the role of additional practices in selecting for the growth of antibiotic-resistant soil bacteria.

Thursday, 15 June 2017 09:47

Dr. Stephen Goff, recipient of the 2017 ASM D.C. White Research and Mentoring Award, advises grad students and lab technicians to “go wherever smart people are doing great science.” During a recent symposium at ASM Microbe 2017, he shared some advice for principal investigators too, on being a good mentor and advisor. 

Wednesday, 14 June 2017 11:28

Most graduate programs have some form of a qualifying exam (QE) or preliminary exam. Generally it consists of writing a proposal and defending it in front of a committee of faculty members. Many students dread it for months, but it’s an opportunity to learn through reading literature and asking for feedback from your peers. Learn how to pass the exam and fully enjoy the experience.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017 12:44

This year, three members of the Microbial Sciences blog team attended ASM Microbe in New Orleans. Get a glimpse of the meeting from their perspective including advice for those planning on attending a future Microbe meeting.

Monday, 12 June 2017 16:48

The cholera epidemic in Yemen has sickened 100,000 people and threatens to spread further. Researchers are hard at work, studying antibiotic resistance and disease mechanisms in Vibrio cholerae, the bacterium that causes cholera. We provide a short summary and links to recent ASM reports that may help scientists and clinicians fight this terrible disease.

Wednesday, 07 June 2017 15:47

A common misconception is that trainees with purely basic research experience do not have the proper skill-sets and therefore, are not qualified for industrial positions.  That could not be farther from the truth, particularly if one considers that virtually every industrial project is predicated by a basic understanding of the system of interest. The challenge for basic scientists in transitioning to industry is finding job opportunities. Paul Dunman, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, shares his tips for finding job opportunities and interviewing in industry.

Wednesday, 07 June 2017 12:50

Researchers have identified a small protein from the Wolbachia bacterium in psyllids that can “cross-talk,” moving to Candidatus Liberibacter within the insects to silence its prophage genes, thereby helping prevent an insect immune reaction that would likely be detrimental to both bacteria.

Wednesday, 07 June 2017 09:50

The ABRCMS conference for underrepresented minority students in STEM offers travel award opportunities for students who wish to present at the conference but don't have the funds to attend, as well as for faculty who are interested in judging student presentations.

Friday, 02 June 2017 10:50

ASM traveled to New Orleans for Microbe 2017 and we brought our cameras to capture some of the great content!

Tuesday, 30 May 2017 11:33

For beginning research scientists, honing your writing skills is essential. Randy Olson’s book, Houston, We Have a Narrative discusses a way of storytelling called “and, but, therefore” (ABT) for writing scientific papers. ABT storytelling in writing follows this format - “Such topic exists AND we know this, BUT we don’t know this other thing, THEREFORE we did these experiments.”

Sunday, 28 May 2017 04:07

Long before microscopes were invented, ancient physicians and scholars imagined the existence of microbes.