Dr. Margaret McFall-Ngai is a professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine and Public Health, and member of the Symbiosis Cluster group, University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Eye Research Institute. Her laboratory studies two areas: 1) the role of beneficial bacteria in health using the squid-vibrio model; 2) the biochemical and molecular ‘design’ of tissues that interact with light. In addition, she has been heavily involved in promoting microbiology as the cornerstone of the field of biology.
Dr. McFall-Ngai also currently holds the positions of AD White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University and EU Marie Curie ITN Professor. She was recently (2011-2013) a Moore Scholar at California Institute of Technology. Dr. McFall-Ngai has been a Guggenheim fellow, and is a member of the American Academy of Microbiology (2002), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2011), and the National Academy of Sciences (2014).
Dr. Ruby has worked for 30 years on beneficial bacterial-host interactions. He was hired into the Symbiosis Cluster at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2004, where he held the Steenbock Chair of Microbiological Sciences, and was Vice-Chair of the Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology. He has served on the Board of Governors of the American Academy of Microbiology, and been a visiting professor at HuaZhong U, China, and a EU/Marie Curie ITN Researcher at the Max-Planck Institute, Bremen, Germany. Recently, he was a Moore Scholar at the California Institute of Technology, and is currently Chair of the American Academy of Microbiology Awards Board.
In 2015, Dr. Ruby moved his lab back to the University of Hawaii. His current research uses (i) a broad-based approach to analyze how sequential signaling cascades and nutrient manipulation produce rhythmic patterns of bacterial metabolism that underlie the association’s persistence, (ii) new analytical and imaging approaches to discover novel pathways of signaling between the symbiont and its host, and (iii) comparative and functional genomics to discover principles controlling population-level interactions among symbionts.
Divining the Essence of Symbiosis: Insights from the Squid-Vibrio Model
Development of experimental model systems reveals basic principles that underpin the essence of symbiosis and, more specifically, how one symbiosis, the squid-vibrio association, provides insight into the persistent microbial colonization of animal epithelial surfaces.
Symbiotic Conversations Are Revealed Under Genetic Interrogation
This is an exciting time for biologists, and for microbiologists in particular, to begin to understand how animals and plants communicate with the many bacterial species that live in and on their tissues. Describing the genetic basis of this symbiotic conversation has become a new frontier of biology.
Oct 27, 2016 Documentary - The Microbes That Rule Our World
Margaret and Ned are featured in a National Geographic styled French documentary, The Microbes That Rule Our World, directed by Stéphane Bégoin, which will broadcast on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2016, on the internationally regarded French-German channel ARTE. News Article
Oct 11, 2016 Post-Doc Position Available
Postdoctoral Position in McFall-Ngai and Ruby Laboratories, Kewalo Marine Laboratory & Pacific Biosciences Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa.
May 26, 2016 UH Manoa Partners in National Microbiome Initiative
On May 13, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced a new National Microbiome Initiative(NMI), a coordinated effort to better understand microbiomes—communities of microorganisms that live on and in people, plants, soil, oceans and the atmosphere—and to develop tools to protect and restore healthy microbiome function. This initiative represents a combined federal agency investment of more than $121 million.
For years, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa has been making substantial investments—through faculty hires, endowments and facilities—and plans to continue to build capacity in the emerging field of microbiome research.
“UH Mānoa is a powerhouse in the realm of microbiome research,” said UH Mānoa Vice Chancellor for Research Michael Bruno. “There are few, if any, universities with the number of world leaders in this domain—UH Mānoa has three members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) who specialize in this field.”
Along with long-established UH Mānoa scientists, recent and upcoming hires of faculty will support the NMI and advance related research discoveries. In the past two years, and with an allocation of $2.2 million, UH Mānoa has hired three professors, two junior faculty, and two related positions—all of whom address microbiomes. Further, theUH Mānoa Pacific Biosciences Research Center (PBRC) will invest $1 million in hiring two additional faculty to explore complex microbial ecosystems.
“Major challenges facing mankind, including sustainability of the environment, human health, and energy and food production, have the microbial world as a principal driving force in both the creation of the problems as well as strategies for the development of solutions. We have a great opportunity here in Hawaiʻi to participate as pioneers in the research of our microbial biosphere,” said Margaret McFall-Ngai, NAS member and director of PBRC.
In 2014, the Pavel family announced an endowment of $2 million to theCenter for Microbial Oceanography Research and Education (C-MORE). Professor David Karl, co-founder of the Hawaiʻi Ocean Time-seriesprogram and C-MORE director, is the inaugural recipient of the Victor and Peggy Brandstrom Pavel chair in Oceanography.
UH Mānoa has invested nearly $37 million in construction and renovation of facilities that primarily support microbiome research. The majority of this ($22.5 million) went toward construction of the Daniel K. Inouye C-MOREHale, a state-of-the-art LEED Platinum building, which was dedicated in 2010. C-MORE, as a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center, required a cost share from UH—a contribution of approximately $9 million as cash or in-kind support. The university will continue to support shorefront and ocean-going assets that provide unparalleled access to the coastal and deep-water environments in which many microbiome researchers work. These additional future investments are expected to be greater than $5 million over the next 5 years.
Microbiomes maintain healthy function of diverse ecosystems, influencing diverse features of the planet—human health, climate change, and food security. UH Mānoa, as a partner in the NMI, will advance the understanding of microbiome behavior and enable protection and restoration of healthy microbiome function. From medicine to global climate change to deep sea mining, microbiome research is proving to be the next frontier—an area of research that is yielding new understanding and paradigm-shifting discoveries about the world around, and in, us.