Bonnie Bassler is a professor of molecular biology at Princeton University. She has made important discoveries about quorum sensing, or the process by which single-cell bacteria communicate with one another. She hopes to use quorum sensing to create anti-microbial drugs to counteract bacteria. For her work, she received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2002 and the National Academy of Sciences elected her one of its members in 2006. She wakes up prior to 6 a.m. everyday to teach an aerobics class.. because otherwise she would just be lazy.
Question: What do you want to accomplish before you retire?
Bonnie Bassler: So what I have always wanted to understand, right, is like every instance of you life all this stuff is happening, you know, all the time, and I want to understand how any organism interprets what is happening on the outside and then does the right thing on the inside. How do you know to eat, to sweat, close your eyes, all these things happen, right, and then they happen at this molecular invisible scale too, all this stuff that is happening in you every moment. And, so, I have always wanted to understand how do we take information in from the outside, correctly interpret it, and behave. And how do you go from one cell to a multicellular organism? And I think we are going to learn those things by studying quorum sensing. We are studying the stripped down, primitive version of us, the way bacteria take information from the outside in and then decide to be multicellular. And that is what I have always wanted to learn because I think understanding how the cells of your body work when they are working correctly, when they are not working correctly. It is going to be incredibly important for medicine, for behavior, for just understanding human beings going forward. So that is my dream; I don’t think I will get there.
Recorded on: 6/17/08