Biologist Karen Guillemin named as a fellow in the AAAS

Karen Guillemin

UO biologist Karen Guillemin has been elected as a fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, joining 488 other newly elected members recognized for their distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

“It is a great honor to be recognized by AAAS, an organization that does so much to advocate for science and educate the public on critical matters such as public health and climate change,” said Guillemin, Philip H. Knight Chair and professor of biology.

A professor in the UO’s Department of Biology and the Institute of Molecular Biology who also serves as director of the META Center for Systems Biology, Guillemin examines how animals coexist with their microbial residents and the role bacteria plays in development and disease. She helped pioneer a research model involving a special germ-free zebrafish that enables scientists to better determine the role microbes play as animals grow.

Guillemin was officially cited by the association for “using genetically tractable animal systems to uncover mechanisms that hosts and their microbial communities use to shape each other during development and disease states.”

“Professor Guillemin has played a leading role in the evolution of zebrafish research, and she continues to blaze new paths of discovery,” said Cassandra Moseley, UO’s interim vice president for research and innovation.

Guillemin’s induction brings the university’s total number of current or retired faculty members listed as association fellows to 41. Election as a fellow is an honor bestowed upon association members by their peers. The association announced its selections Nov. 24 and will recognize newly elected members during a virtual Fellows Forum.

Earlier this year, Guillemin was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in the area of biological sciences. Before arriving at the UO as a junior professor in 2001, she earned her undergraduate degree in biology from Harvard University and trained at Stanford University with renowned microbiologist Stanley Falkow.

She has published more than 85 scientific papers, including a breakthrough 2006 publication describing how development in germ-free zebrafish is stunted in specific ways and she has furthered the understanding of how host-associated microbes influence human biology and disease.

Research discoveries in the Guillemin Lab include a recently patented novel bacterial protein called BefA, which shows promise to someday become a component of a new treatment for Type-1 diabetes.

“Karen’s pioneering work helping to develop zebrafish as a model to understand how host-associated microbes influence vertebrate development has earned her international recognition and her election into AAAS is well-deserved,” said UO biologist and fellow zebrafish researcher Judith Eisen, who was elected as an AAAS fellow in 2017.