Margaret J. McFall-Ngai, PhD

Position title: Director and Professor, Pacific Biosciences Research Center University of Hawai'i, Manoa


Phone: (808) 956-8838

Pacific Biosciences Research Center
University of Hawai'i at Manoa
1993 East-West Road Office 215
Honolulu, HI 96822

Professor Emeritus
Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, UW-Madison
Margaret J. McFall-Ngai, PhD

BS 1973, Biology, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
PhD 1983, Biology, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
Postdoctoral Fellow 1984-1986, UCLA, Jules Stein Eye Institute, Los Angeles, CA
Postdoctoral Fellow 1986-1988, UC San Diego, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, San Diego, CA

Research Interests
Dr McFall-Ngai is Director of the Pacific Biosciences Research Center at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.  She is a professor emeritus in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine and Public Health, and member of the Symbiosis Cluster group, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  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. She has been heavily involved in promoting microbiology as the cornerstone of the field of biology, and serves on the board of advisors for the Global Health Initiative at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland, and the Forum for Microbial Threats, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, USA. Dr. McFall-Ngai has been a principal organizer of a number of conferences in the US and Europe and has been vice-chair and chair of the planning committee for the American Society for Microbiology General Meeting for the last six years. She has been a Guggenheim fellow, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Microbiology.

Her research focuses on host responses to interactions with beneficial microbes. Within this context, the studies of her laboratory address five major questions:

(1) How are environmentally rare bacteria harvested from the host’s habitat during the onset of a horizontally transmitted symbiosis?

(2) By what mechanisms does the host recognize its specific symbiotic partner(s)?

(3) What are the influences of symbiotic bacteria on the development of the host tissues with which they associate?

(4) How is the symbiont population maintained in balance over the host’s lifetime, such that neither does the symbiont overgrow the host nor does the host eliminate the symbiont?

(5) What are the similarities and differences between pathogenic and beneficial animal-bacterial interactions?

Her lab also studies the ‘design’ of tissues that interact with light (i.e., the biochemical basis of transparency and reflectivity).

Pacific Biosciences Research Center

McFall-Ngai Lab

PubMed Listing of Publications