Zemer Gitai is the Edwin Grant Conklin Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University. He graduated with a bachelor's degree from MIT in 1996. After completing his graduate studies at UCSF in 2002, Dr. Gitai became a postdoc in the lab of Dr. Lucy Shapiro at Stanford University where he pioneered the study of the MreB actin-like cytoskeleton in Caulobacter crescentus. Dr. Gitai joined the faculty of Princeton University as an Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology in 2005. He was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2012 and to Professor in 2015. In 2016 he became the Edwin Grant Conklin Distinguished Professor of Biology. He was also the Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Molecular Biology from 2012-2018.
Dr. Gitai's research focuses on the cell biology of bacteria. His lab studies how cells self-organize across spatial scales, using quantitative, molecular, and engineering approaches to understand to understand problems such as cell shape formation, host-pathogen interactions, and antibiotic development. His work discovered new components of the bacterial cytoskeleton, new functions for bacterial polymers in metabolism, compartmentalization, and chromosome dynamics, and established the importance of protein assembly for unexpected processes like metabolism and pathogenesis. More recently, the Gitai lab has extended its use of quantitative methods to discover novel features of microbe-host interactions and antibiotics with novel mechanisms of action. Dr. Gitai's achievements have been recognized by awards such as the NIH Director's Pioneer Award, the NIH New Innovator Award, the NIH Transformative Research Award, the Beckman Young Investigator Award, and the HFSP Young Investigator Award.