Katherine P. Lemon

Associate Member of the Staff, Department of Microbiology
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School
Associate Physician in Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital

I am a physician-scientist trained in basic microbial research. In the Lemon Lab, we use data on microbial community composition to generate hypotheses about potential direct interactions between pathobionts, e.g., Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae, and benign members of the bacterial microbiota. My goal is to understand how these benign/beneficial bacteria impact the ability of pathobionts to colonize the human upper respiratory tract and how they can alter pathobiont behavior. We assay for these interactions using co-cultivation in order to identify the molecules and the genes involved. A longer-term goal is to detect the expression of these genes in the actual habitat of interest, the human nose or throat. My goal is to take these basic insights and develop them into clinically useful approaches to manage upper respiratory tract microbiota to prevent infections. 

I received a PhD in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where, under the mentorship of Dr. Alan Grossman, I studied chromosome replication in the wonderful gram-positive model organism Bacillus subtilis. After receiving my MD from Harvard Medical School, I completed a pediatric residency and a fellowship in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Boston Children's Hospital where I am currently an Attending Physician in Infectious Diseases. After my clinical training, I did mentored research with Dr. Roberto Kolter at Harvard Medical School, where I initially focused on elucidating the molecular mechanisms of single species biofilm formation by Listeria monocytogenes. While working with Dr. Kolter and the other scientists in his lab, I became fascinated by the interspecies interactions that might occur in the microbial communities that are at home on us. Building on my experience with biofilms and my clinical expertise in infectious diseases, research in my lab at the Forsyth Institute is focused on exploring the interspecies interactions that occur between among the bacterial microbiota of the human upper respiratory tract, an environment that supports complex multi-species biofilms.