IMS Affiliated Faculty

Karen M. Ottemann
  • Title
    • Professor
    • Chair
  • Division Physical & Biological Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Microbiology & Environmental Toxicology Department
    • Institute of Marine Sciences
  • Phone
    831-459-3482 (Office), 831-459-4780 (Lab)
  • Email
  • Fax
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Biomed 238
  • Mail Stop METX
  • Mailing Address
    • 1156 High Street
    • Santa Curz CA 95064
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Microbiology, Biomedical Sciences, Disease and Immunity, Molecular Biology
  • Courses BIOL/METX 119: Microbiology, BIOL/METX 119L Microbiology Lab, METX 200: Interdisciplinary Approaches in Environmental Toxicology, METX 206A: Advanced Microbiology

Summary of Expertise

Infection by the ulcer-causing bacterium Helicobacter pylori
Bacterial chemotaxis

Research Interests

How pathogenic bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori use environmental cues to establish infection.

For pathogenic bacteria to set up an infection, they must know that they have arrived at the proper location. Karen Ottemann's laboratory investigates how bacteria translate chemical and physical cues in their host environment into an advantageous response.

Ottemann lab members are particularly interested in how pathogens use swimming during infection, using the bacterium Helicobacter pylori as a model for this ability. This pathogen infects some 3 billion people and can lead to serious disease, including ulcers and cancer. Bacteria do not swim at random, but instead direct their motility (chemotaxis) by the activity of sensing proteins called chemoreceptors. The chemotaxis system thus allows us to examine the types of cues sensed by pathogens.

Biography, Education and Training

• B.S, University of California, Davis (Bacteriology)
• Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard University (with John Mekalanos)
• Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Berkeley in Biochemistry (with Daniel E. Koshland, Jr.)

Teaching Interests

Molecular microbiology