Prof Fitnat Yildiz

Dr. Yildizis an internationally-recognized leader in biofilms and signal transduction. She discovered the structural and regulatory genes required for biofilm matrix and characterized their architectural roles using super resolution microscopy. She pioneered global studies of biofilm gene regulation and has determined the molecular underpinnings of cdiGMP signal transduction pathways, impacting studies across bacteriology. She also contributes substantially to the community by service and teaching.

The central focus of Dr. Yildiz's research is to understand the molecular mechanisms of pathogen transmission and environmental survival using Vibrio cholerae as a model. As a post-doctoral fellow, Dr. Yildiz ascertained that V. cholerae produces a unique extracellular polysaccharide (VPS) that mediates chlorine resistance and promotes biofilm formation. She identified the genes required for VPS biosynthesis and showed, for the first time that VPS gene products are required for biofilm formation. She was part of the team that developed V. cholerae microarrays and was one of the first investigators to use this technology to characterize biofilm formation and transcriptional network analysis. At UCSC, Dr. Yildiz has developed and maintained a thriving interdisciplinary research program addressing fundamental questions on molecular mechanisms of biofilm formation. She identified biofilm matrix proteins, determined chemical structure of VPS, determined assembly principles, architectural roles, and function of biofilm matrix components. She identified and characterized core transcriptional regulatory networks controlling biofilm formation; key c-di-GMP signaling components controlling motile to biofilm transition, and biofilm matrix production. Fitnat received The Ellison Medical Foundation New Investigator award and her research is funded by NIH grants. She has devoted a significant amount of time to the academic community by serving on review panels for NIH and foundations and is a standing member of the NIH BACP Study Section. She has been teaching the Advanced Bacterial Genetics Course at Cold Spring Harbor since 2011. She is actively involved in the organization of the ASM Biofilms conference; serving as a co-chair twice. She has been a session convener and speaker at ASM annual meetings and giving invited talks at conferences worldwide. Fitnat has taught microbiology, bacterial genetics and pathogenesis
courses and mentored many scientists who now have productive careers.