William Shafer, Ph.D.


Antimicrobial Resistance and Therapeutic Discovery Training Program


Department of Microbiology, Emory University School of Medicine

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William Shafer received his PhD degree in Microbiology from Kansas State University in 1979 where he studied the genetics of enterotoxin synthesis by Staphylococcus aureus. After postdoctoral studies with P.F. Sparling  at the University of North Carolina where he studied the genetics of antibiotic resistance expressed by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, he moved to Emory University School of Medicine where he now Full Professor. He is also a Senior Research Career Scientist at the Atlanta VA Medical Center. He has been continually funded by the NIH and VA since 1984, has published over 115 manuscripts, serves on multiple Editorial Boards and served on several NIH, VA and international study sections.


Genetics of antibiotic resistance; antimicrobial peptides; transcriptional regulation of gene expression; mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis. The Shafer laboratory is interested in proteins produced Neisseria gonorrhoeae that form drug efflux pumps that export antimicrobial compounds to the extracellular fluid.  We are also interested in the molecular regulation of the expression of their genes as this is a critical component in bacterial survival during infection and antibiotic therapy. We are also defining the structure function relationships of cationic antibacterial peptides produced by neutrophils and certain epithelial cells. These peptides are thought to be important in host defense against infection and bacteria have developed multiple ways to counteract their antibacterial action. Using Neisseria gonorrhoeae as a model target pathogen to better understand the mechanisms of peptide killing and bacterial resistance, we are isolating and studying mutants that express altered levels of susceptibility to human host defense antibacterial peptides

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