Jon Paczkowski

Jon Paczkowski

Assistant Professor
School of Public Health
Biomedical Sciences
The RNA Institute


5221 Center for Medical Sciences, 120 New Scotland Ave, Albany NY 12208

Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund for Medical Research Postdoctoral Fellow in the Bassler Laboratory at Princeton University-Howard Hughes Medical Institute (2014-2019)

Ph.D., Molecular Biology and Genetics, Cornell University (2008-2014)

Jon smiles at the camera, standing against a grey background.

Dr. Paczkowski is an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. His current primary appointment is Research Scientist IV at the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). His laboratory studies the mechanism of bacterial cell-cell communication known as quorum sensing (QS).

Quorum sensing (QS) is a process of bacterial cell-cell communication that controls virulence and biofilm formation in many bacterial species, including the pathogens Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Vibrio cholerae. QS relies on the production, accumulation, detection, and population-wide response to extracellular signal molecules called autoinducers (AI). QS allows bacteria to synchronously alter gene expression patterns that underpin collective behaviors. QS is now understood to be the norm in the bacterial world. Nonetheless, how different bacterial QS receptors selectively bind ligands to initiate signal transduction is not understood. Defining ligand-receptor interactions and how ligands are selected or rejected in QS-mediated communication will be key for generally understanding the molecular principles underlying receptor specificity and promiscuity, and specifically, the respective benefits and drawbacks of strict versus relaxed ligand detection in QS-mediated communication. Bacteria live in heterogeneous communities and encounter mixtures of AIs produced by themselves, their kin, and their non-kin neighbors. Learning how bacteria correctly interpret these blends of AIs and elicit appropriate gene expression responses is essential to understand how bacteria communicate, and, more globally, to understand how all organisms decode environmental stimuli. QS presents a unique opportunity to understand these longstanding questions in biology.


Research Interests

  • Quorum sensing (QS) regulation
  • Structural biology of QS receptors
  • QS receptor-ligand interactions for drug discovery
  • Role of quorum sensing in microbial community interactions
  • Biofilm formation
  • Microbial pathogenesis


Research Concentrations

  • Drug Discovery and therapeutics
  • Infection and immunity
  • Genes and genomes
  • Structural biology


Current Major Activities

  • Understanding the regulation of RhlR-dependent quorum-sensing signaling in Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Determining the role of quorum sensing in multi-drug resistant clinical isolates of Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Investigating the role of quorum sensing in microbial competitions


Sample of Work


Learn more about Dr. Paczkowski's Work