Douglas B. Weibel

Photo of Doug Weibel
Professor of Biochemistry
(also Department of Biomedical Engineering and Department of Chemistry)
B.S., University of Utah
Ph.D., Cornell University
Postdoctoral, Harvard University
Phone: (608) 890-1342

Research Statement

Our goal is understand the structure, function, and behavior of bacteria. Bacteria lack the organelles found in larger cells that compartmentalize and position biomolecules and control their spatial function. Bacteria control their internal biomolecular machinery using biophysical mechanisms that emerge from a range of physical processes, including: mass transport, diffusion, elastic strain, polymer kinetics, and molecular contact. Our research dissects a broad range of bacterial processes spanning cell division, membrane organization, cell wall assembly, chemotaxis, and cell motility by drawing on experimental techniques from the fields of biochemistry, biological engineering, biophysics, chemistry (synthetic and bioanalytical), microbiology, and molecular biology. Recent research in our lab includes identifying and studying components of cellular processes using a genome-wide strategy, decoding the chemical language of bacterial chemoreceptors, developing molecular diagnostics for detecting bacterial infections, characterizing the biomolecular regulation of bacterial mechanics, discovering new antibiotics and studying new drug targets, and performing clinical trials on pre-term infants to reduce the rates of harmful bacterial infections. Our research combines fundamental science with a deep interest in solving real-world problems.

Selected Publications

1. G.K. Auer, T.K. Lee, M. Rajendram, S. Cesar, A. Miguel, C. Huang, D.B. Weibel. Mechanical genomics identifies diverse modulators of bacterial cell-stiffness, 2016, Cell Systems, 2(6):402-411.

2. M. Rajendram, L. Zhang, B.J. Reynolds, G.K. Auer, H.H. Tuson, K.N. Ngo, M.M. Cox, Q. Cui, A. Yethiraj, D.B. Weibel. Anionic phospholipids stabilize RecA filaments bundles in Escherichia coli, 2015, Molecular Cell, 60, 374-384.

3. J.A. Crooks, M.D. Stilwell, P.M. Oliver, Z. Zhong, D.B. Weibel. Decoding the chemical language of motile bacteria using a high-throughput microfluidic assay, 2015, ChemBioChem, 16, 2151-2155.

4. K. Hurley, V. Heinrich, J. Hershfield, S. Demons, D.B. Weibel. Membrane-targeting DCAP analogs with broad-spectrum antibiotic activity against pathogenic bacteria, 2015, ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 4, 466-471.

5. T.Y Lin, T.M.A. Santos, W.S. Kontur, T.J. Donohue, D.B. Weibel. A cardiolipin-deficient mutant of Rhodobacter sphaeroides has an altered cell shape and is impaired in biofilm formation, 2015, Journal of Bacteriology, 197, 3446-3455.