Episode Summary

Dr. John Mekalanos (Harvard Medical School) has devoted his career to the study of bacterial pathogens, with a special emphasis to understanding Vibrio cholerae, the bacterium that causes the deadly disease cholera.  And what an amazingly productive research path he has followed, from the discovery and characterization of the regulon that controls V. cholerae virulence, to the identification of the pilus that allows the bacteria to colonize the intestine, to the discovery of the bacteriophage that encodes the cholera toxin.  His (relatively) recent discovery of the Type VI Secretion System and characterization of its role in inter-bacterial competition and host modulation has had broad impact on all aspects of microbiology.

Dr. Mekalanos received the 2022 ASM Lifetime Achievement Award for all of his tremendous contributions to our understanding of bacterial-host interactions.

Dr. Mekalanos talks about the background of some of the seminal discoveries from his laboratory, how important his laboratory personnel (graduate students, postdoctoral fellows) have been to his success, his thoughts on the eradication of cholera through vaccination, and how his love of poker has contributed to his success as a scientist.  


  • Karl Klose, Ph.D. (UTSA)
  • John Mekalanos, Ph.D. (Harvard Medical School)
  • Karla Satchell, Ph.D. (Northwestern University)

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