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Dr. McFall-Ngai’s research program focuses on questions in the frontier field of the role of beneficial bacteria in health and disease. In collaboration with microbiologists and biochemists, she developed the use of a simple animal model system, the squid-vibrio association, for the study of the establishment and maintenance of an animal-bacterial symbiosis.
Margaret received her Ph.D. degree from the University of California-Los Angeles in 1983. Her postdoctoral work at Jules Stein Eye Institute (UCLA Medical Center) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography (UC San Diego) focused on protein biochemistry and biophysics. Combining the training from these experiences, she accepted a faculty position in Biological Sciences at the University of Southern California (USC), where she began studies on the role of beneficial bacteria in the promotion of health in animals using the squid-vibrio model. For her contributions to the field of microbiology, she was elected to the American Academy of Microbiology in 2002. Dr. McFall-Ngai was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship for the academic year 2009-2010 to investigate the role of symbiosis in shaping evolutionary selection on the form and function of animal systems. In addition, she recently served as a member of the Board of Life Sciences of the National Academy of Science on a committee, “A new biology for the 21st century: Ensuring the US leads the coming biology revolution”.