Founding Our Department

In 1962, Tufts University School of Medicine recruited James T (Ted) Park to establish a Department of Microbiology and to serve as the first Chair.  Park, a Big Ten collegiate tennis champion, was already well-known as a distinguished microbial biochemist for his discovery that the bacterial cell wall is synthesized from nucleotide-linked precursors (then called Park nucleotides and now known as nucleotide sugars) and for his demonstration that penicillin kills bacteria by inhibiting their ability to synthesize the cell wall.  At the outset, the department included “Rusty” Rustigian, a virologist, and Ralph Wheeler, a physician and epidemiologist.

Park recruited six additional faculty members over the course of the next six years. The new faculty members were united by common interests in bacterial genetics, bacterial physiology and biochemistry. The first to be hired was Moselio (“Elio”) Schaechter, a microbial physiologist who had described the essential parameters of bacterial growth during training in the laboratory of the Danish microbiologist, Ole Maaløe. An active amateur mycologist, Schaechter would go on to author the popular book  “In the Company of Mushrooms” and edit several successful textbooks and reference books in microbiology. Next, H Vasken Aposhian, a virologist, left Arthur Kornberg's group at Stanford, to join our faculty.  Aposhian left in 1970 to become Department Chair at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.  In 1965, Edward Goldberg was induced to leave Alfred Hershey's lab at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to set up a lab at Tufts studying phage genetics, transcription and morphogenesis.  (Goldberg retired in 2010.) Michael Malamy was recruited in 1966, after completing postdoctoral training at Princeton, with Arthur Pardee, and at the Institut Pasteur, with Jacques Monod and François Jacob, during which he studied the regulation of the lac operon.  Edward Wise, a graduate of Park's lab, also joined the faculty at that time, but moved to Burroughs-Wellcome in 1972.  In 1967, Andrew Wright, a mountain climber and Scottish country dancing enthusiast, moved across the river from his postdoctoral position at MIT (with Phillips Robbins) to start a new lab studying the interactions of Salmonella phages with their host cells. He became professor emeritus in 2007, but remains active in research. Rustigian and Wheeler both left Tufts in the late 1960s.

Molecular Microbiology PhD

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Our department is the administrative home of the Molecular Microbiology PhD Program of the Sackler School