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Abstract

Bonnie Bassler, PhD is a world-renowned microbiologist and professor at Princeton University. She rose to fame, at least outside of the scientific community, after her 2009 TED talk entitled “How bacteria ‘talk’”. A stunning success, this 18-minute exposé into molecular biology is widely touted as one of the best general audience interpretations of research in the natural sciences. Bassler discusses the ways that bacteria communicate with one another, called quorum sensing, and explains its rather intricate mechanisms in clear and relatable terms. Quorum sensing relies upon small chemical messengers to transmit information between bacteria. The Bassler lab played a sizable role in dissecting these molecular transmissions and ‘rewriting’ them in an effort to devise modified antibiotics that block bacterial communication systems and shut down infections before bacterial populations grow out of control and cause damage to a human host. This piece in Synthesis attempts to break apart the scientific and medical ramifications of these cutting-edge, modernized antibiotics, while exposing the reader to the benefits of clear scientific communication. Bassler’s 2009 TED Talk has done more than simply catapult a scientist to fame – it has also encouraged political leaders to pay more attention to the growing antibiotic resistance in communities and expedite research in the field of microbiology for better bacterial-killing drugs.

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Copyright © 2017 Nicholas McCarty

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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