Esther Lederberg is a science and bacterial genetics icon. She and her partner demonstrated how phages can transfer genes between bacteria. Most importantly, she found the first reported temperate phage, the lambda phage, which has become a favored tool for studying genetic recombination and gene expression, and a model for disease caused by viruses with a temperate cycle. Without this discovery, our work would not have been possible. We regret that so few people know about the woman who left such a significant mark on phage research, which is why we want to dedicate this project and its name to the pioneer of the lambda phage, Esther.
Learn more about Esther Lederberg.
Using the full potential of phages
Phage therapy is an excellent addition to antibiotics, as they also kill infectious bacteria yet with far more specificity than antibiotics. So far, phage therapy has focused on the use of lytic phages that only have a search-and-destroy cycle. And lysogenic phages are not used as their temperate cycle can cause resistance in the target bacteria. With Esther, we overcome this fundamental problem by introducing a switch, demonstrating the full potential of temperate phages.
More eyes on me
For our project to fully succeed, we need to combine imagination and information, while having more hands-on-lab exploring phage therapy and the ethical questions that follow. Through the year we have had the opportunity to speak about synthetic biology with students in both primary and high school, as well as take part in an interview and short debate on national television. We have organized an art exhibition inviting local artists and scientists to show their perspective on synthetic biology through painting, installations, film and more, and are determined to continue