• Assistant Professor, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, Fred Hutch
Christopher Johnston

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center
1100 Fairview Ave. N.
Mail Stop E4-100
Seattle, WA 98109

Phone Number: 

Research in the Johnston lab centers on microbial epigenetics, specifically DNA methylation –the addition of a CH3 group to specific nucleotides in DNA – and how this alters protein-DNA binding interactions. We focus on how this relatively simple modification influences the spread of information between bacteria during horizontal gene transfer, the alteration of global transcriptional or virulence patterns within a population of cells, and also how it relates to barriers to genetic engineering in the lab. In the latter, funded by an NIH transformative research award, we are overturning the restrictive paradigm of genetic intractability in microbiology by creating broadly applicable technologies and methodologies to permit genetic engineering of  any cultivable bacterial species; massively expediting fundamental examinations of microbes relevant to health and disease. The long-term goal of our research is to generate a deeper functional understanding of ‘what bacteria are capable of doing’, to figure out ‘how they are doing it’, and subsequently use that information to engineer novel therapeutics and the next generation of microbe-based technologies for application in human medicine and bioengineering.

  • PhD (Cork Institute of Technology)
  • Postdoctoral (The Forsyth Institute, Harvard School of Dental Medicine affiliate)
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