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Department ofBiology


David Hess
David C. Hess

Associate Professor, Director Biotechnology Program


B.S. in Biology. 1997. Case Western Reserve University.
Ph.D. in Genetics. 2004. Harvard University.
Postdoctoral Fellow. 2004-2009. Princeton University.


BIOL 175 Molecular Biology
BIOL 178 Bioinformatics


Our laboratory focuses on microbial evolution. For much of my career I focused on the single-celled eukaryote, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the yeast involved in baking bread and fermentation of alcohol. Variants of this species have been specialized by cultures around the world for their own purposes—sake production from rice, beer from grain or wine from grapes. Studying what makes the variants of Saccharomyces cerevisiae specialized to their domesticated niches was the foundation of my lab at Santa Clara University, though that work is winding down.

Since 2009, my lab has become increasingly involved in studying microbial evolution from a public health perspective. We have been focused on utilizing sequencing (both targeted and whole-genome sequencing) to better understand the spread of bacterial pathogens and associated antibiotic resistance. Similar to yeast, we find that within pathogenic species of bacteria we find many variants. These variants are often associated with antibiotic resistance patterns and severity of disease. Better understanding how bacteria spread and evolve in conjunction with humans will allow for more informed public health interventions.


Espinosa K, Buono S, Gerrity J, Shearer A, Dick C, Mak ML, Terramoto K, Philip S, Klausner JD, Pandori M and Hess D. (2014) Fluoroquinolone Resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae after Cessation of Ciprofloxacin Usage in San Francisco: Using Molecular Typing to Investigate Strain Turnover.
STD. 2015. 42: 57-63.

VanderSluis B*, Hess DC*, Pesyna C, Krumholz EW, Syed T, Szappanos B, Nislow C, Papp B, Troyanskaya O, Myers CL, Caudy AA. (2014) Broad metabolic sensitivity profiling of a prototrophic yeast deletion collection. Genome Biology 15:R64. *co-first authorship.

Reisser C*, Dick C*, Kruglyak L, Botstein D, Schacherer J and Hess DC. (2013) Genetic basis of ammonium toxicity resistance in a sake strain of yeast: a Mendelian case. G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. 3:733-740. *co-first authorship.

Bernstein KT, Marcus JL, Barry PM, Pandori MW, Buono S, Hess D and Philip SS. (2013) Characteristics of Males Infected with Common Neisseria gonorrhoeae Sequence Types—San Francisco, 2009. American Journal of Epidemiology. 178(8) 1289-1295.

Hess D, Wu A, Golparian D, Esmaili S, Pandori W, Sena E, Klausner JD, Barry P, Unemo M, and Pandori M. (2012) Genome sequencing of a Neisseria gonorrhoeae isolate of a successful international clone with decreased susceptibility and resistance to extended-spectrum cephalosporins. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. 56(11) 5633-5641.

Buono S, Wu A, Hess D, Phillip S, Barry P, Bernstein K, Klausner JD, Pandori MW. (2012) Using the Neisseria gonorrhoeae multi-antigen sequence typing (NG-MAST) method to assess strain diversity and antibiotic resistance in San Francisco, CA. Microbial Drug Resistance 18(5):510-517. 

Hess DC, Myers CL, Huttenhower C, Hibbs MA, Hayes AP, Paw J, Clore JJ, Mendoza RM, San Luis B, Nislow C, Giaever G, Costanzo M, Troyanskaya OG and Caudy AA.  (2009) Computationally driven, quantitative experiments discover genes required for mitochondrial biogenesis. PLoS Genetics 5(3): e1000407.

Hess DC, Lu W, Rabinowitz J, and Botstein D. (2006) Ammonium toxicity and potassium limitation in yeast. PLoS Biology 4(11): e351.