2015 MGM Annual Retreat

The Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Annual Retreat is scheduled for Friday, September 9 to Sunday, September 11, 2016 at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort in Wrightsville Beach, NC. This annual event offers the opportunity for students, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants, and faculty members to engage in collaborative discussions as well as showcase current scholarship and research.  For a complete schedule please click here.

For further information, please contact Annette Kennett at (919) 613-8636 or


Thursday Series

The Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology has combined with the University Program in Cell and Molecular Biology as well as the Department of Cell Biology to create a seminar series we refer to as the “Thursday Series.” These seminars are held each Thursday from 12:30-1:30pm in Room 147, Nanaline Duke Building. The MGM portion of the Thursday Series is coordinated by:

Debra Silver, PhD
Assistant Professor


Tuesday Series

The Tuesday Series is co-sponsored by the University Program in Genetics and Genomics (UPGG) and the Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy (IGSP). All seminars take place each Tuesday from 12:30-1:30pm in Room 147, Nanaline Duke Building. The Tuesday Series is coordinated by:

Alejandro Aballay, PhD
Associate Professor
268 JONES Building
Box 3580 DUMC
Durham, N.C. 27710
Tel: (919) 668-1783
Fax: (919) 684-2790

Please visit the UPGG web site for a complete Tuesday Series schedule.


MGM Post-Doctoral Fellow Distinguished Alumnus Seminar

Click here for a complete list of previous MGM Post-Doctoral Fellow Distinguished Alumnus Seminar speakers.


MGM Graduate Student Distinguished Alumnus Seminar

Click here for a complete list of previous MGM Graduate Student Distinguished Alumnus Seminar speakers.


UPGG Distinguished Lecture Series

The Duke University Distinguished Lecturer Series was designed to bring renowned lecturers to campus to illuminate progress and future areas of excitement in genetics and genomics. These seminars take place on specific Thursdays at 4:00 pm in Room 103, Bryan Research Auditorium with a reception following the presentation. The Distinguished Lecture Series is free and open to the public and is organized by a UPGG student committee in conjunction with:

Mohamed Noor biology faculty studio headshotMohamed Noor, PhD
Department of Biology
4214 French Science
Box 90338
Durham, N.C. 27708
Tel: (919) 613-8156
Fax: (919) 660-7372

To view all the past lecture posters, please click here.

Please visit the UPGG web site for a complete Distinguished Lecture Series schedule.


Jim McGinnis Memorial Lecture

The Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology will host the Thirty-Eighth Annual Jim McGinnis Memorial Lecture on March 17, 2016. This year’s speaker is Bonnie L. Bassler, PhD .

Bonnie L. Bassler is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and the Squibb Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University. Bassler received a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of California at Davis, and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Johns Hopkins University. She performed postdoctoral work in Genetics at the Agouron Institute, and she joined the Princeton faculty in 1994. The research in her laboratory focuses on the molecular mechanisms that bacteria use for intercellular communication. This process is called quorum sensing. Bassler’s research is paving the way to the development of novel therapies for combating bacteria by disrupting quorum-sensing-mediated communication. At Princeton, Dr. Bassler teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses. Dr. Bassler directed the Molecular Biology Graduate Program from 2002-2008 and she currently chairs Princeton University’s Council on Science and Technology which has revamped the science curriculum for humanists. Bassler is a passionate advocate for diversity in the sciences and she is actively involved in and committed to educating lay people in science. Dr. Bassler was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2002. She was elected to the American Academy of Microbiology in 2002 and made a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2004. She was given the 2003 Theobald Smith Society Waksman Award and she is the 2006 recipient of the American Society for Microbiology’s Eli Lilly Investigator Award for fundamental contributions to microbiological research. In 2008, Bassler was given Princeton University’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. She is the 2009 recipient of the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Science for her paradigm-changing scientific research. She is the 2011 recipient of the National Academies’ Richard Lounsbery Award. She is the 2012 UNESCO-L’Oreal Woman in Science for North America. In 2012, Bassler was also elected to the Royal Society and to the American Philosophical Society. Bassler was the President of the American Society for Microbiology in 2010-2011. She is currently the Chair of the American Academy of Microbiology Board of Governors. She is a member of the National Science Board and was nominated to that position by President Barack Obama. The Board oversees the NSF and prioritizes the nation’s research and educational priorities in science, math and engineering. She was an editor for a decade for Molecular Microbiology, and is currently an editor of mBio, and Chief Editor of Annual Reviews of Genetics. She is an associate editor for Cell, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of Bacteriology, and other journals. Among other duties, she serves on the National Academies Board on Life Sciences, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science Education Committee, and Discovery Communications’ Science Channel Scientific Advisory Board. She serves on oversight, grant, fellowship, and award panels for the National Academies of Sciences, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, American Society for Microbiology, American Academy of Microbiology, Keck Foundation, Burroughs Wellcome Trust, Jane Coffin Childs Fund, PEW Charitable Trust, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the MIT Whitehead Institute.

Bassler studies quorum sensing, the molecular mechanisms bacteria use for cell-to-cell communication and coordinating group behaviors.

[Visit the Bassler Laboratory website]

Bonnie L. Bassler, PhD
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
Squibb Professor in Molecular Biology
Professor and Chair of Molecular Biology

Seminar: TBD
March 17, 2016
Venue: Bryan Research Building Auditorium, Room 103
Reception to follow lecture


The annual McGinnis Memorial Lecture was established by the staff and students of the Departments of Microbiology and Immunology in 1979 to honor the memory of James William McGinnis, Jr.

Jim was born March 13, 1951, in Greensboro, N.C. He grew up in Cary; graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass.; received a B.S. degree in Chemistry from Stanford University in 1973; completed the first year of medical school at Duke; transferred to the Department of Microbiology and Immunology; and was a doctoral candidate here at the time of his death, March 11, 1978, in a canoeing accident. His research involved in vitro translation and RNase III processing of avian tumor virus (RSV) RNA. The Ph.D. was awarded posthumously. His postdoctoral work was to be with Dr. Fred Sanger, Cambridge, England.

Science was Jim’s first allegiance, but he relished excellence in music, sports, literature, and art. He loved philosophy, enjoyed nature, and prized friendship. Learning was exhilarating to him,
and, to this good end, the lecture is dedicated.


Since its inception, the McGinnis lecture program has brought 37 exemplary speakers to campus, including five Nobel laureates (J. Michael Bishop, David Baltimore, Phil Sharp, Elizabeth Blackburn, and Peter Doherty), and thirty members of the National Academy of Sciences, including leading investigators in the areas of molecular biology, virology, microbial pathogenesis and physiology, immunology, vaccines, and RNA biology.

Click here for a complete list of previous McGinnis Memorial Lecture speakers.

The Jim McGinnis Memorial Lecture is organized by a student committee in conjunction with:

Micah Luftig, PhD
Assistant Professor
424 CARL Building
Box 3504 DUMC
Durham, N.C. 27710
Tel: (919) 668-3091
Fax: (919) 684-2790


Joklik Distinguished Lectureship

The Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology will host the Sixth Annual Joklik Distinguished Lecture in conjunction with the annual MGM departmental retreat, September 11-13, 2015. This year’s speaker is Lynn Enquist, Ph.D.

Lynn W. Enquist, Ph.D., is Henry L. Hillman Professor of Molecular Biology and Professor in the Princeton Neuroscience Institute at Princeton University. He received his B.S. degree from South Dakota State University and received his Ph.D. in Microbiology from the Medical College of Virginia. His research interests are the genetics and molecular biology of DNA viruses with a special emphasis on neurotropic alpha herpes viruses. Dr. Enquist has published 265 articles or books and is an inventor on four US patents. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Annual Review of Virology, a member of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity from 2005-2012, a member of the AAAS board of directors, and has served as a member and chair of several NIH grant review panels. He served as President of the American Society for Virology. He co-taught the Cold Spring Harbor summer course on Advanced Bacterial Genetics from 1980-1985. He is one of four authors of a popular virology textbook entitled: Principles of Virology, Molecular Biology, Pathogenesis, and Control. He was awarded the President’s Award for Teaching Excellence at Princeton in 2001 for his course entitled “Viruses: Strategy and Tactics”. He was appointed as a commissioner for the New Jersey Cancer Commission where he played a leadership role in state funding of cancer research and education. In 2010 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He lectures widely on viruses.Dr. Enquist’s 30 + year career experience has spanned research work in government laboratories at the NIH, heading research at Molecular Genetics, Inc. (one of the first biotechnology companies), designing novel applications of viruses for DuPont corporate research, managing an antiviral drug discovery team for DuPont Merck Pharmaceuticals to his current position as Henry L. Hillman Professor and Chair of Molecular Biology at Princeton University. His work on bacterial viruses played an important role in the development of recombinant DNA technology and his work on in vitro packaging systems has seen worldwide use by many investigators for cloning DNA from complex genomes into simple bacterial viruses. He was involved peripherally with the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee on the use of recombinant DNA by participating in the certification of the first E. coli vector systems. He and his colleagues were involved in the first successful cloning of mammalian genes and viruses including those from herpes simplex virus type 1 as well as integrated murine RNA tumor virus genomes. His current work is devoted to understanding how viruses invade and cause disease in the nervous system as well as developing viruses as tools to study the vertebrate nervous system.

Lynn Enquist_Joklik_2015Lynn Enquist
Henry L. Hillman Professor in Molecular Biology
Professor of Molecular Biology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute
Department of Microbiology
Department of Molecular Biology
Princeton University

Seminar: Axons, the front line sensors of alpha herpesvirus PNS invasion
September 12, 2015
Blockade Runner Beach Resort
Wrightsville Beach, NC
Reception to follow lecture

The Joklik Distinguished Lectureship honors and commemorates the myriad contributions of Dr. Bill (Wolfgang Karl) Joklik to the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Duke, which he chaired; to the institution, specifically for his role as the co-founder of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center; and to the broader microbiology community for his research program in virology, service in founding the American Society for Virology, and for his editorial work for the journal Virology and the seminal text, Zinsser’s Microbiology. [Read more]

Click here for a complete list of previous Joklik Distinguished Lectureship speakers.


Other Triangle Area Seminars

  • Triangle Microbial Interactions Meetings


2016 MGM Holiday Celebration

The 2015 MGM Holiday Celebration is scheduled for Saturday, December 3rd, from 7-11 pm at Kirby Hall, Duke Gardens.  Please mark your calendars.


2015 MGM Softball Game

It’s that time of year again for the annual MGM softball game at the Durham Athletic Park (DAP).  The game and cookout are scheduled for Tuesday, July 7th, from 4-8 pm. Our grill masters will be out in full force cooking up hamburgers and hotdogs with all of the extras. Dust off the bats and gloves, bring your families, and come on out and have some great fun and food!

In order to get a count for food, please RSVP to no later than, Friday, May 30th.

We look forward to seeing you there!