Douglas B. Weibel

Photograph of Doug Weibel
Professor (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 research seeks to understand the structure, function, and behavior of bacteria--one of the most diverse and adaptable organisms on the planet. We ask questions about bacteria that span a wide range of physical dimensions, taking us from the movement and function of single molecules within cells (at the smallest length scale) to the behavior and structure of bacterial communities in host organisms (at the longest length scale). Our research often starts by asking a fundamental question that arises from observing bacterial cells and leads us to apply our biological, chemical, and physical discoveries to pursue real-world applications. Four recent examples of fundamental research projects in our lab include studying: 1) the organization of machinery within cells; 2) the organization and function of membranes; 3) the chemical language of bacteria; and 4) bacterial cell mechanics. Four recent examples of applied research projects in our lab include: 1) discovering  new classes of antibiotics and antibiotic drug targets; 2) optimizing production of recombinant molecules (e.g., therapeutic proteins and small molecules) in bacteria; 3) developing new diagnostic systems for rapid bacterial detection; and 4) developing strategies to reduce bacterial infections in preterm infants. Funding for our research is generously provided by a variety of federal, private, and corporate sponsors; we advise these donors on a range of levels spanning from presenting public research seminars and science outreach to traveling to remote geographic locations to provide expertise on difference areas of applied science and technology. Students and postdoctoral fellows in our laboratory receive training in a range of areas of science, engineering, and technology and pursue a range of professional careers after they leave, including in: industry, government, academia, startups, and policy.

Selected Publications

1. K.A. Hurley, T.M.A Santos, M.R. Fensterwald, M. Rajendram, J.T. Moore, E.I. Balmond, B.J. Blahnik, K.C. Faulkner, M.H. Foss, V.A. Heinrich, M.G. Lammers, L.C. Moore, G.D. Reynolds, G.P. Shearn-Nance, Z.W. Yao, B.A. Stearns, J.T. Shaw, D.B. Weibel. Targeting quinolone and aminocoumarin-resistant bacteria with new gyramide analogs that inhibit DNA gyrase, 2017, MedChemComm, 8, 942-951.

2. K.C. Faulkner, K. A. Hurley, D. B. Weibel. 5-alkyloxytryptamines are membrane-targeting, broad-spectrum antibiotics, 2016, Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 26, 5539-5544.

3. L.D. Renner, J. Zan, L.I. Hu, P.J. Resto, A.C. Siegel, C. Torres, S. Hall, T.R. Slezak, T. Ngyuen, D.B. Weibel. Detection of ESKAPE bacterial pathogens using a portable, isothermal de-gas driven diagnostic system, 2016, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 83, e02449-16.

4. 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, 402-411.

5. 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.