The Neidhardt-Freter Lectureship

The Neidhardt-Freter Lectureship in Bacterial Physiology and Virulence

On October 13, 2012, The Department of Microbiology & Immunology commemorated the renowned careers of two of our distinguished former faculty, Drs. Rolf Freter and Frederick Neidhardt, with an inaugural, annual symposium in their honor.

Frederick C. Neidhardt, PhD (1931 – 2016)

Dr. Frederick C. Neidhardt, the Frederick G. Novy Distinguished University Professor of Microbiology & Immunology, dedicated his career to both excellence in science and excellence in leadership and service.

Neidhardt’s research focused on gene regulation and the molecular physiology of bacterial growth. He was the first scientist to employ temperature-sensitive mutants in essential functions to analyze gene regulation in studies of bacterial physiology, and he is credited with establishing the field of microbial proteomics. He served as Editor-in-Chief of a treatise on the cellular and molecular biology of Escherichia coli, the most studied cell in biology.

Neidhardt’s leadership in microbiology was recognized with numerous awards and honors, including the Eli Lilly & Co. Award in Bacteriology and Immunology and the Alexander von Humboldt Senior U.S. Scientist Award from Germany, and election to the presidency of the American Society for Microbiology.

Neidhardt served as Chair of the Department of Microbiology & Immunology from 1970 – 1982; he then went on to serve as the Associate Dean for Faculty of the Medical School and later as U-M’s Vice President of Research. In these roles he fostered the recruitment of women and minorities to the faculty and facilitated the development of a mentorship system for junior faculty.

Rolf G. Freter, PhD (1926 – 2009)

Dr. Rolf G. Freter devoted his career to a thoughtful analysis of the microbe-human interaction. Born and educated in Germany, he began his work in the U.S. in Chicago and Philadelphia before making his way to Ann Arbor.

First intrigued by several seemingly inexplicable aspects of cholera, Freter tackled problems that intimidated others. As a result of his research, the world learned the importance of and the mechanism of local mucosal immunity in defense against intestinal pathogens. His early work with chemostats pioneered the field of polymicrobial bacteriology.

Joining the U-M faculty in 1966, Freter worked as a professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology until his retirement in 1996. He remained at the University as a professor emeritus until the time of his death in 2009. His colleagues marveled at his creativity and his work, and he inspired students by sharing his awe of the human-microbe cooperative encounter. A respected scientist and mentor, Freter was known for his scientific dedication and persistence, and he is greatly missed.

Neidhardt/Freter Symposium Speakers

Christopher Sassetti, University of Massachusetts
Ferric C. Fang, University of Washington

Andreas Baumler, University of California, Davis 
James Collins, University of Louisville

Vanessa Sperandio, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center 
Tyrrell Conway, Oklahoma State University

Jorge Escalante-Semerena, University of Georgia
John Mekalanos, Harvard University

Andrew Goodman, Yale University
Christine Szymanski, University of Georgia

ASM Historical Milestones in Microbiology
Manuela Raffatellu, University of California, San Diego
Samuel Miller, University of Washington

Susan Gottesman, NCI
Jeff F. Miller, University of California, Los Angeles

Laurie Comstock, University of Chicago
Richard Lenski, Michigan State University

Natalie C. J. Strynadka, University of British Columbia
John F. Rawls, Duke University

Neal Hammer, Michigan State University
Mariana Byndloss, Vanderbilt University

Trevor Moraes, University of Toronto
Bryan Bryson, MIT

Rafael Valdivia, Duke University
Cari Vanderpool, University of Illinois