2017 History of Microbiology Poster Session


History Posters Presented at the 2017 ASM Microbe Meeting

Poster Session Date:  Sunday, June 4, 2017

(click on poster titles for more information)


2016 History of Microbiology Poster Session


History Posters Presented at the 2016 ASM Microbe Meeting

Poster Session Date:  Sunday, June 19, 2016

(click on poster titles for more information)


History of Microbiology at ASM Microbe 2018


Lectures, Sessions, Posters, Exhibit Sponsored by the Center for the History of Microbiology/ASM Archives at ASM Microbe 2018



The Pandemic, The Virus and 1918 Revisited: A Century of Influenza Virus

Session Type: Plenary Session co-sponsored by the Center for the History of Microbiology/ASM Archives (CHOMA)

Date: Friday, June 8, 2018

Time: 8:45 am – 10:45 am

Location: Georgia World Congress Center; Atlanta, GA; Sydney Marcus Auditorium, Building A, Level 4 and ASM Microbe at Play, Building B, Level 4


Wars and Plagues: How Events in 1918 Influenced the Profession of Microbiology

Session Type: Profession of Microbiology (POM) Track Hub Session

Date: Friday, June 8, 2018

Time: 1:30 pm – 2:15 pm

Location: Georgia World Congress Center; Atlanta, GA; Exhibit and Poster Hall, Building B, Halls B2-B5, POM Track Hub)


Science and the Great War: How World War I Shaped Microbiology

Session Type: History of Microbiology Lecture/Symposium

Date: Saturday, June 9, 2018

Time: 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm:

Location: Georgia World Congress Center; Atlanta, GA; Building A, A411



Significant Events in Microbiology

Specific Topics: TBA

Times & Location: TBD



Session 425 - POM04 - History of Microbiology

Date: Sunday, June 10, 2018

Time: 12:45 pm – 2:45 pm

Location: Georgia World Congress Center; Atlanta, GA; Exhibit and Poster Hall, Building B, Halls B2-B5


Questions?  Contact ASM Archivist: jkarr@asmusa.org   or  archives@asmusa.org



History of Microbiology at ASM Microbe 2017


2017 ASM Microbe Activities Sponsored by the

Center for the History of Microbiology/ASM Archives Committee



Early African American Microbiologists – Making Contributions/Overcoming Barriers


Date:  Friday, June 2, 2017


Melanie Armstrong, Ph.D. (Interviewer), Western State Colorado University

Marian Johnson-Thompson, Ph.D., University of the District of Columbia



History of Microbiology Exhibit (3-Part Exhibit): 

  • "Paul de Kruif: Microbe Hunters and Beyond”
  • Significant Events in Microbiology
  • A Century of ASM Branches



Posters on the History of Microbiology

Date:  Sunday, June 4, 2017



The Spirit of Science: Frederick Novy's Influence on Medical Education and the Profession of Microbiology
Date:  Saturday, June 3, 2017

Powel Kazanjian, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI


The 2017 Annual History Lecture assesses the legacy of Frederick Novy, charter member and 5th president of the Society of American Bacteriologists (later ASM). After training in the labs of Koch and Pasteur, he was instrumental in defining the roles of full-time researcher and educator in medical schools, emphasizing a "pure science" ideal, and establishing bacteriology as a distinct discipline. His contributions added legitimacy to the profession in the early days of American microbiology.


Questions:  Contact ASM Archivist: jkarr@asmusa.org   or   archives@asmusa.org   



University of Texas at Dallas Founders Building Designated as a Milestones in Microbiology


 The American Society for Microbiology Designates

 Founders Building, University of Texas at Dallas

as a Milestones in Microbiology site

The ASM Milestones in Microbiology program recognizes institutions and the scientists who worked there that have made significant contributions toward advancing the science of microbiology. 

Photo UT Dallas 1 - Susie Sharp and Provost Unveiling Plaque

(L-R) Susan Sharp, ASM President, and Inga Musselman, Senior Vice Provost, UT-Dallas, unveiling the Milestones Plaque

Milestones Recognition

The Milestones in Microbiology designation recognizes achievements of University of Texas at Dallas (UT-Dallas) scientists in molecular biology, in advancing medical science and in providing fundamental insights into bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms..   


Milestones Site Dedication Ceremony

The plaque that marks the UT-Dallas Founders Building as a Milestones in Microbiology site was unveiled on November 10, 2016, in a ceremony held at the building.  Susan Sharp, President of ASM, presented the Milestones plaque on behalf of ASM.  Inga Musselman, Senior Vice Provost, UT-Dallas, accepted the plaque on behalf of the site. 


Milestones Plaque 

xxPlaque UT Dallas-FINAL-Scanned 11-15-16

PDF of Plaque:  Click Here


Historical Background and Perspective


Earliest History of the Site – In October 1964, the Founders Building was dedicated as the centerpiece of the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest (GRCSW), a private research institution, which in 1967, was renamed as the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies (SCAS), and then in 1969 became The University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas).  As the first permanent structure on The University of Texas at Dallas campus, the Founders Building sits at the physical and historical heart of the University.   In those early days, the building hosted faculty and visiting scholars from around the globe who conducted research and graduate education in mathematics, physics, geosciences, and atmospheric and space science.  Biology, focusing on genetics and microbiology, was the largest division and the only molecular biology department in the Southwest at the time.  Together those programs formed the core that would become UT-Dallas’ School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.


The biology division included leaders in the field of microbiology, the study of organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, protists and phages (viruses that infect bacteria).  The first head of the Genetics Division was the phage biologist Carsten Bresch, who had been one of the first students of Max Delbrück, founder of the world-renowned Phage School.  Among the earliest faculty recruits to the Genetics Division were Claud (Stan) Rupert, Hans Bremer, and Roy Clowes, whose accomplishments are highlighted below.  A great deal of the early microbiology research done at UT Dallas was published in ASM journals. 


Overview of Significance of Site – In its 50+ years, the Founders Building has welcomed some of the most distinguished scientists in the world, whose research – and that of their students and protégés – has advanced medical science and provided fundamental insights into the natural world, especially bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms.  Biology (and microbiology in particular) has a rich history at UT Dallas and its predecessor institutions.  Research conducted in this building has made major contributions to understanding the molecular genetics of bacteria and their viruses (bacteriophages).  In overview, this designation honors the early developments of “molecular biology.”    


Foundations of “Molecular Biology” – Early microbial genetics research at UT Dallas was integral to the development of the field of Molecular Biology.  This “Molecular Biology” is firmly rooted in microbiology – the study of bacterial and phage genetics that prominently figures in the history of the Founders Building.  


Regional Influence – Microbiologists working in the Founders Building were “pioneers,” introducing the new science of Molecular Biology to Texas and the Southwest region of the United States.  


International Influence – From its very beginning, the Genetics Division of the GRSCW/SCAS was an international enterprise.  The internationally-renowned Phage School and European scientists were influential on the early development of GRSCW/SCAS.  Numerous trainees (PhDs and post-docs) of the Genetics Division and its descendants went on to highly successful careers in academia or industry (examples: Ry Young, now Professor, Texas A&M University; John Ryals, President and CEO, Metabolon).  Several of the early faculty went on to continue distinguished careers in Europe and the US (example: Hermann Bujard left a faculty position at SCAS to join Heidelberg University.  He later helped to establish the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and the Centre for Molecular Biology at Heidelberg University).  Thus, GRSCW/SCAS has had a tremendous influence on the development of molecular biology in the US and worldwide.


Influence on Other Disciplines – Research activity in the department in other areas (cancer biology, neurobiology, biochemistry, cell biology) is to a large extent built upon the methodological foundations that were established by the early microbial geneticists. 


Educational Mission – The Division of Genetics of the GRCSW Molecular Sciences Laboratory was the predecessor of the current Department of Biological Sciences.  Microbiological research and teaching have long played a vital role in the mission of the Department. 


Specific Accomplishments – Microbiologists at UT Dallas and its predecessor institutions used the bacterium Escherichia coli as a model organism to elucidate fundamental molecular biological principles concerning the repair, transfer and expression of DNA.  In overview, the nomination encompasses the early developments of “molecular biology” – plasmids (Clowes), growth regulation (Bremer), and phage development including the highlight of the photoactivation of DNA repair (Rupert).


  • DNA RepairClaud S. Rupert did seminal research on enzymes in bacteria that are activated by visible light and are involved with repairing damage to DNA caused by ultraviolet light; he was among the first to describe a light-activated DNA repair process that requires a photoreactivating enzyme, or photolyase.  Rupert joined GRCSW from Johns Hopkins University, where he had discovered light-activated DNA repair.  At GRCSW, Rupert continued to study photo-activation of DNA repair in Escherichia coli and other microorganisms.  In 1978, Rupert and his student Aziz Sancar (Nobel Laureate, 2015, joint award) reported the cloning of the phr gene that encodes the E. coli photolyase.  Sancar believes that phr was the first gene to be cloned (in a recombinant plasmid) anywhere in the US outside of California.  


  • DNA RepairAziz Sancar (co-recipient 2015 Nobel Prize, 2015, for mechanistic studies of DNA repair), while a doctoral student at UT-Dallas in Rupert’s laboratory, successfully isolated the E. coli photolyase gene, which is critical to DNA repair in bacteria.  Sancar earned his PhD in molecular and cell biology in 1977.  His PhD research conducted in the Founders Building formed the foundation of subsequent work that led to his 2015 Nobel Prize (joint award) in chemistry. He is the first alumnus to earn the prize.


  • Plasmid BiologyRoyston Clowes, an influential microbial geneticist who headed the biology division for several years, was internationally renowned for his research on the molecular biology of genetic elements (plasmids and transposons) that mediate DNA transfer.  He did much to further understanding of the biology of plasmids and to lay the groundwork for their development as experimental tools.  His work had implications for medicine and was at the center of recombinant DNA technology, which has had wide-ranging applications in biotechnology, laboratory research and drug development. His research was central to a better understanding of drug-resistance factors in disease-causing bacteria. Clowes’ "milestone" contributions in this area include the genetic and physical characterization of plasmids  and studies of the mechanisms of plasmid and chromosome transfer.  Together with other distinguished microbiologists (Naomi Datta, Stan Cohen, Stan Falkow, Roy Curtiss and Richard Novick), Clowes co-authored a definitive plasmid nomenclature and the “plasmid subgroup” report for the 1974 Asilomar meeting that formed the basis for the Guidelines for Recombinant DNA Research.  Clowes also did important work on transposons and the exotoxin A of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, including one of the first reports of the isolation of DNA sequences encoding the toxin.  Besides his research papers, Clowes also authored several important books, including the highly influential “Experiments in Molecular Genetics” (co-authored with Bill Hayes). 


  • Bacterial Growth and the Synthesis of Macromolecules Hans Bremer, associated with the institution for close to 50 years, uncovered fundamental physiological principles in bacterial growth and the synthesis of macromolecules.  He made important contributions to the study of the growth rate regulation of ribosomal protein and RNA synthesis in Escherichia coli.  "Milestone" contributions of Bremer’s include elucidation of the role of ppGpp in controlling the rate of stable RNA synthesis, the discovery that the second ppGpp synthetase activity of E. coli is the product of the spoT gene, and many studies of the growth rate regulation of macromolecular synthesis.  Much of Bremer’s work is characterized by a strong quantitative and theoretical component, which reflects his roots in the Phage School.  Still associated with UT-Dallas, Bremer’s publishing career with the institutions associated with the Founders Building spans nearly fifty years.


In ADDITION –  Besides the individuals highlighted above, early members of GRCSW and SCAS included phage biologists and geneticists working on bacteria, yeast, Physarum, and protozoa.     




Photo UT Dallas 2a - Cropped- Susie Sharp and UT Dallas Folks with Plaque

(L-R) Bruce Novak, UT-Dallas Dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Susan Sharp, ASM President,
Stephen Spiro, Head, Department of Biological Sciences UT-Dallas and Inga Musselman, Senior Vice Provost UT-Dallas, 
with Milestones in Microbiology Plaque 


Any questions? Contact the ASM Archivist at jkarr@asmusa.org