2021: Empowering the phage community

Issue 107 | January 1, 2021
8 min read
Capsid and Tail

Sunrise over Lanikai Beach, credits: @amandabereckonedwith

Hello 2021!! This year, we’re focusing on empowering the phage community with the knowledge and tools it needs to overcome phage research challenges & help others do the same.


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Registration is now open for Phage Futures 2021, which will take place virtually Feb 24-26, 2021! The theme will be translating phage-based applications into clinically & commercially viable therapeutics. Come hear from 25+ industry-leading speakers, and get 10% off with code PD10!

Add your voice to the State of Phage 2020 Survey!

State of Phage 2020 logo

In celebration of our 100th issue of Capsid & Tail, we launched a survey called State of Phage 2020! We created this survey to help us all better understand the phage research community globally, including what kind of phages people are collecting, what methods they’re using, and more. If you work with phages, please fill it out! We’ll compile and share the results in Capsid & Tail in 2021, and repeat the survey annually so we can all follow and share our community’s exciting growth over time.

Thanks so much to the 117 labs who’ve completed the survey, and to those who have shared it!! We’ll be keeping it open a little longer, then sharing results over the course of 2021!

We’d love if you continued sharing it with friends! https://survey.phage.directory/

Take the State of Phage 2020 Survey

What’s New

Kristen LeGault (University of California, Berkeley) and colleagues published a new preprint showing how temporal shifts in antibiotic resistance elements govern virus-pathogen conflicts in Vibrio cholerae recovered from clinical samples. They studied Vibrio cholerae phage-host arms race dynamics over time (using clinical samples taken across 3 years!), and learned more about the role of integrative conjugative elements (ICEs) in conferring phage defense and dissemination of antibiotic resistance.

Phage defense systemsPhage-host interactionsPreprintResearch paper

Gerald Misol, Jr. (Hellenic Center for Marine Research, Greece) and colleagues characterized a novel jumbo phage with broad host range against Vibrio harveyi, a major aquaculture pathogen. They did a trial in shrimp, which showed that this phage looks like an excellent candidate for phage therapy in aquaculture. Characterization paper | Genome announcement.

AquacultureResearch paper

Anna Dragos (Technical University of Denmark) wrote a blog post for Nature Microbiology entitled ‘Breaking bad of prophages during lab evolution - from strange observation to revelation’. She talks about how her group noted an intriguing pattern across series of evolution experiments with B. subtilus, and what they’ve gone on to learn about prophages as a result!


Latest Jobs

PhD project
The Environmental Microbial Genomics (EMG) group at the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences (PLEN), Section for Microbial Ecology and Biotechnology at the University of Copenhagen is offering a PhD scholarship in phage biocontrol.
Assistant ProfessorEcology and evolution
The Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Biomedical Sciences, College of Life Sciences and Agriculture at the University of New Hampshire is hiring an assistant professor of microbial ecology and evolutionary biology.

Community Board

Anyone can post a message to the phage community — and it could be anything from collaboration requests, post-doc searches, sequencing help — just ask!

The Africa Phage Forum is hosting its first webinar, with special guest Dr. Paul Turner, who will give a talk entitled ‘From the environment to bedside: understanding the basics of phage therapy research’. Save the date for Jan. 14 at 11AM EST (4PM GMT). Registration details available soon!

Virtual Event

In the lead up to the virtual Global Phage Futures Congress February 24-26 (register here), Dr Shawna McCallin, Clinical Coordinator, Balgirst University Hospital will provide a free webinar Jan 19 at 12:00 PM Eastern on establishing a database for phage therapy. Attend to understand how international collaboration can help to reduce reporting of positive bias and how, through involvement, members of the phage community can help to improve transparency, clinical trial design and patient safety.

Dr McCallin will also attend the virtual Global Phage Futures Congress, where she will chair a live discussion with experts including Dr Gina Suh, Dr Ben Chan, Dr Jon Iredell, and Dr Graham Hatfull on the topic: ‘Success or failure in compassionate use; why does phage therapy not always succeed?’

ConferencePhage TherapyVirtual Event

The Phage Team Uganda comprising of scientists, researchers and students from various backgrounds, is coming together to contribute to world Phage community in discovering the Phage potential for a better world. Follow our work via @PhagesUG on Twitter!


2021: Empowering the phage community

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Phage microbiologist and co-founder of Phage Directory
Phage Directory, Atlanta, GA, United States

Jessica Sacher is a co-founder of Phage Directory and has a Ph.D in Microbiology and Biotechnology from the University of Alberta.

For Phage Directory, she takes care of the science, writing, communications, and business aspects.

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Product designer and co-founder of Phage Directory
Phage Directory, Atlanta, GA, United States

Bioinformatics, Data Science, UX Design, Full-stack Engineering

Jan Zheng is a co-founder of Phage Directory and has a Master of Human-Computer Interaction degree from Carnegie Mellon University, and a computer science and psychology background from UMBC.

For Phage Directory, he takes care of the product design, engineering, and business / operations aspects.

Happy New Year everyone! After a great couple of weeks reflecting on our 2020 prides and joys, we wanted to take this January 1st opportunity to share what we’re excited about for 2021. We’ve got some exciting new upgrades in store for you this year!

A shift toward community-contributed content

What started as a list of phage researchers, then evolved into a newsletter to keep these researchers informed, has become a living and breathing community full of people willing to help each other get further in their phage research and development. To fit this new reality, in 2021, you can look forward to a much more interactive experience on phage.directory (coming soon!).

Find and share your favourite phage articles, protocols, and videos, and show off your work

Capsid & Tail is full to the brim with our favourite phage news and research articles, but there’s much more going on than we can fit in a single newsletter. Plus, we want you to get a diversity of opinions on what’s important, and that means gradually handing the reins over to the community (currently, our awesome group of volunteers does this — reach out if you’d like to get involved!). Soon, Phage Directory members will be able to share and discuss interesting papers, protocols, recorded talks, events, jobs, and more. You’ll be able to search for what you need, exchange thoughts with your fellow community members, and bookmark what you like for later. Meanwhile, Capsid & Tail itself will evolve into a curated sampling of the best phage community-generated content over time.

Teach newcomers how it’s done by hosting your own webinars and workshops on Phage Directory

We’re excited to partner with community members to bring their visions of phage courses, workshops, conferences, and webinar series to life (e.g. host your own iVoM or PHAVES!). You decide what to cover, who to invite, and how to present it, and we’ll help you pull it off easily while making sure everyone knows about it.

Get your phages sequenced, imaged & more

Have you been trying to find an affordable way to get your phage TEM or sequencing done? We’ve heard this from many of you (thanks to your generous State of Phage 2020 responses!), so we’ll be partnering with groups that provide affordable, high quality phage services. You’ll be able to order what you need from trusted sources that support the phage community, and get your phage research done faster.

Offer your services to the phage community

We’re working with select partner research labs, phage banks, and companies to offer their phage-related products and services (even phages and strains themselves!), to help partners share their expertise with the community and broaden their impact. If you’ve got something to offer the phage community, let’s talk!

Update your profile as you collect phages, expertise & accomplishments

As a member, you’ll be able to log in and update your Phage Directory profile at will, including adding your phage hosts and even your individual phages once you’re ready to share them with the community.

Get recognized for your contributions

Recognition of the hard work you put in to build up our field is essential. We’ll be recognizing the work of those who consistently contribute to the community by sharing, helping others, and more.

Let’s eliminate antibiotic resistance together

Up to now, we’ve focused on gathering phage researchers and biotech professionals into a central nucleus. We’re really happy with the results so far! Now that we’re all here, going into 2021, it’s time to leverage this momentum into more tangible progress for the field. We’re excited to help equip the community with the knowledge and tools to overcome the challenges of phage research, to help someone else overcome theirs, and to help ensure all this progress compounds over time.

And let’s not forget the larger reason why we’re all doing any of this. As phage researchers, developers, and supporters, at all career stages and from all countries, each of us has the capacity to help prevent deaths from antibiotic resistant bacteria. By organizing ourselves around this common purpose, we’re building a safety net that doctors and health systems globally can turn to when antibiotics fail. The outline of that safety net is already in place, and every researcher that gathers a new piece of information about their phage or their host system is filling in part of that tapestry.

We’re here to give this constant, distributed stream of incremental progress the best possible chance at compounding into a body of knowledge we can all use. Like eliminating the coronavirus, eliminating the threat of antibiotic resistance will take a global effort. Well, this is that effort — you’re already a part of it. Thanks for being here, and cheers to what we can all do in another year!

— Jess and Jan <>{

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In collaboration with

Mary Ann Liebert PHAGE

Supported by

Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust

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