Capsid and Tail

a weekly phage periodical
Issue Five: Reflecting
November 15, 2018

Reflecting on our first year

For this week’s issue, we’d like to reflect on our first year as Phage Directory. We’re one year old this week!

Last week, we covered how phage crowdsourcing works. Coincidentally, the same day we released last week’s issue, we received a request for phages for a patient. We put out a Phage Alert, and received an incredibly impressive response from the phage community. For this, we would like to extend a huge THANK YOU to all those who’ve helped us out so far.

The offers to help are still coming in, and phages are already being shipped. We’ll keep you posted on the case.

For this week’s issue, we’d like to reflect on our first year as Phage Directory. We’re one year old this week!

But First...

We are actively seeking Klebsiella phages for a patient. If you have Klebsiella phages, please get in touch with us ASAP. Please spread the word!

Phage TherapyPhage Alert

Buzzfeed made an excellent mini documentary on phage therapy (~15 min), and it’s on Netflix! It’s part of a series called “Follow This” and it features both Ben Chan and Steffanie Strathdee.

Phage TherapyMedia

Another US patient has been successfully treated with phages. This is thanks to Ben Chan at Yale, who found, prepared and provided the phages for a 23-year-old woman with Cystic Fibrosis.

Phage Therapy

Martha Clokie has an exciting, fully-funded PhD opportunity to work on soil phages in collaboration with APS Biocontrol Ltd. Apply by Jan. 6, 2019.


If you’d like to support a woman’s phage therapy treatment at the Eliava Phage Therapy Center in Tbilisi, Georgia, you can donate here.

DonationPhage Therapy

It’s World Antibiotic Awareness Week! This is a WHO campaign to educate the public about antimicrobial resistance. The Wellcome Trust is bringing together 300 scientists, politicians, civil society and industry leaders and academics to talk resistance prevention on Nov. 19-20. Follow live tweets by @Wellcome_AMR and use the hashtag #CalltoAction18 to contribute!

Antibiotic Resistance

No new jobs this week. If you’d like to add one, please post one by emailing [email protected]

Community Board

Have a question or request for the phage community? Post it here and reach > 200 phage enthusiasts spanning academia, industry, medicine, and beyond. Feel free to be creative about what you might ask! (e.g. collaborations, advice, seeking opportunities)

The community board is empty this week. Be the first to post something for next week!

Reflecting on our first year

Exactly one year ago, Jan and I heard about Mallory Smith’s imminent need for phage therapy. We decided that day to launch Phage Directory.

Our original mission was to help people access phage therapy. As a phage biologist, I knew there were thousands of phages out there (both in the environment, and in lab fridges and freezers). But I also knew there wasn’t typically a lot of communication between medical doctors and academic researchers. And Jan and I both knew that the number of people who’d heard of phages was small.

Jan was looking for a way to use his skills in product design and digital community-building on something that mattered. I was frustrated about how most of science is inaccessible to most people, and wanted to help change that fact.

Using technology to get lifesaving phages out of labs and into the hands of doctors made sense for both of us, so we launched Phage Directory.

Mallory Smith, the inspiration for this initiative, passed away two days after we started.

It would be an understatement to say that that makes celebrating our birthday this week bittersweet. Mallory continues to inspire us, and I think about her often. I sometimes re-read her beautifully written blog when I have a hard week.

But in the year since Mallory’s passing, we’ve watched phage therapy make the news over and over again. We’ve learned of new phage companies, new phage clinical trials, a new phage therapy center, and news of successful phage treatments. We’ve spoken with and visited phage researchers and phage companies around the world (they’re an amazingly hospitable bunch!). Our Twitter following has risen to almost 1200 people, and more than 120 people subscribed to Capsid & Tail within its first couple of weeks. When we send a Phage Alert, we get labs volunteering to help within hours.

It is our impression that interest in this forgotten industry truly seems to be ramping up. People seem to want to learn more about phages, and a surprising (and rising) number of phage researchers and medical doctors are willing to get involved in phage treatments. Health regulatory agencies in the USA (FDA) and in Europe (EMA) support these efforts.

We’re working to identify the current barriers to phage therapy so we can help mobilize the phage community to help break them down.

In addition to supporting phage therapy, we are also keenly looking to support those using phages in agriculture and other industries, as well as those doing fundamental phage research.

To sum up, we’re very proud of and grateful for our growing phage community. To all who participate in our phage hunts, email us, retweet us, read our posts, mention us to colleagues, and offer suggestions, THANK YOU! Here’s to the year ahead.

~ Jessica and Jan <>={

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

Stay updated on phage research, phage therapy, and phage jobs by getting Capsid & Tail every week!

Have an idea for a story, news to share, or wanting to write an opinion piece? Get in touch at [email protected] or tweet @phagedirectory

For every issue of Capsid & Tail, we are committed to getting our facts straight, but we’re not experts in the information we’re bringing to you. If you feel that we’ve missed an important viewpoint, or if you have something to add, please reach out to us by emailing [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you, and we’d be happy to revisit topics we’ve covered (ideally with added information and viewpoints from community members like you!).

Lastly, please reach out if you’re interested in writing for us, or have suggestions for future issues!