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04/03/2006 07:00:00

Watson Lecture: Bacterial Biofilms

PASADENA, Calif.- Next time you're brushing your teeth in the morning, give a thought to biofilms, the complex communities of bacteria that form the slippery scum you're scouring off your teeth, along with the slime on river rocks, the gunk in clogged drains, and filmy coatings on just about any surface, anywhere, that's exposed to water.

Biofilms--and the bacteria that comprise them--"get a bad rap," says Dianne K. Newman, "but pathogenic bacteria are only a very minor fraction of those in nature. The vast majority of bacteria do really wonderful and important things."

On Wednesday, April 12, Newman, professor of geobiology at the California Institute of Technology and investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, will discuss how biofilms and bacteria in general are essential for our health and how they have sustained and shaped our environment throughout Earth's history. "I hope that people come to appreciate that bacteria are more than just germs and are, in fact, remarkably metabolically sophisticated," she says. Her talk, "Bacterial Biofilms: Far More Than a Collection of Germs," is the second program of the Winter/Spring 2006 Earnest C. Watson Lecture Series.

The lecture will take place at 8 p.m. in Beckman Auditorium, 332 S. Michigan Avenue, south of Del Mar Boulevard, on the Caltech campus in Pasadena. Seating is available on a free, no-ticket-required, first-come, first-served basis. Caltech has offered the Watson Lecture Series since 1922, when it was conceived by the late Caltech physicist Earnest Watson as a way to explain science to the local community.

For more information, call 1(888) 2CALTECH (1-888-222-5832) or (626) 395-4652. ###

Contact: Kathy Svitil (626) 395-8022 ksvitil@caltech.edu Visit the Caltech Media Relations website at: http://pr.caltech.edu/media

Written by Kathy Svitil