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See how our current work and research is bringing new thinking and new solutions to some of today's biggest challenges.

By Jackie Swift
  • Microbiology
  • Disease
  • Bacteria
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology
What controls the choreography of a cell’s genetic expression? John Helmann seeks to understand life at its most fundamental.

At its most fundamental level, life is a dance between a shifting array of microscopic partners. To unlock the cellular choreography, John D. Helmann, professor of microbiology, has devoted his career to studying a single-celled bacterium known as Bacillus subtilis. The organism is well-known in scientific research as the preferred model for bacteria generally, as well as specifically for gram-positive bacteria (those with a thick peptidoglycan layer making up their cell wall).

And although B. subtilis is not a human pathogen, it is closely related, genetically and functionally, to many infectious microbes, such as Staphylococcus aureusListeria monocytogenes, and bacteria in the Streptococcus family, which means research findings about B. subtilis are generally applicable to a host of disease-causing agents.

Read the full article published by Cornell Research.

Header image: An artist's interpretation of an antibiotic resistant gene. Illustration by Cristina Eagan, CALS Magazine — Spring 2020.

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Paula Cohen, associate vice provost for life sciences, is leading an eight-year, $8 million, multi-institution grant to untangle the complex genetic rulebook for how sperm develops.

  • Molecular Biology and Genetics
  • Genetics
  • Medicine
Buz Barstow working in his lab at a lab bench


A new study identifies bacterial genes that may make it easier for scientists to engineer a bacteria that takes in renewable electricity and uses the energy to make biofuels.
  • Biological and Environmental Engineering
  • Energy
  • Bacteria