San Francisco Lab “Everybody has to make themselves fit into the system. Nobody came to me and said, ‘Hey Michael, do this and you’ll be an integrated scholar.’ You just do what’s important to you. You try to do it well. You try to make yourself available to people.”

  • Dean; Professor; Director of Clark Scholars Program
  • Michael San Francisco, Ph.D. is the Dean of the Honors College, a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Texas Tech University, an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Immunology and Molecular Microbiology at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, the Director of the Clark Scholars Program and a special advisor to the Vice President for Research.


  • In December 2013, Dr. San Francisco was appointed dean of the Honors College by Provost Lawrence Schovanec effective Jan. 1, 2014. San Francisco also served as an associate dean in the Honors College, and most recently, interim vice president for research where he worked on faculty development, interdisciplinary scholarship academy, strategic initiatives, proposal development and limited submissions. As a special advisor, Dr. San Francisco will work closely with the faculty, department chairs and deans to continue to broaden and strengthen the research enterprise at the university, as well as enhance scholarship opportunities for faculty and strategic relationships with the Federal government, the private sector and foundations to foster investment in faculty, graduate and undergraduate research, and interdisciplinary research programs. Dr. San Francisco will also work on tasks related to proposal development and limited submissions.
  • Dr. San Francisco joined Texas Tech University as an assistant professor in biological sciences in 1990 and was promoted to full professor in 2004. He also is a professor at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. He came to the United States for his graduate education from India where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1977. He attended Boston University earning his Master of Science (biochemical ecology) in 1980 and Ph.D. (biology-microbiology) in 1984. He did post-doctoral research at the University of Maryland in biochemistry and molecular biology (1984-1987) and subsequently at The Ohio State University (1987-1990), in biotechnology.
  • Dr. San Francisco served as interim chair of biological sciences at Texas Tech University from 1997-1998. He has been the director of the Clark Scholars Program since 1997. This Program provides an all expenses paid 7-week intensive research experience for high school students from across the nation and globe. He was Director of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Science Education Program, 2005-2008 (CISER Web site), and now is associate director for undergraduate research. He also serves as co-director at the Center for the Integration of Science Education and Research, (2007-present). He also served as the faculty director for the Joint Admissions Medical Program, (2001-2008), a program run by the State of Texas for those students who are academically eligible and economically underprivileged who wish to attend medical school.
  • Dr. San Francisco teaches general microbiology and advanced courses in microbiology to upper level and graduate students. He has graduated seven doctoral students and nine master’s students from his laboratory. He has also served as undergraduate research mentor to more than 55 students including TTU/HHMI, National Science Foundation-Research Experiences for Undergraduate and Honors College students.
  • He received the Hemphill Wells New Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award in 1993 and the President's Excellence in Teaching Award in 2009. Dr. San Francisco has received grants from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Defense-SBCOM and Office of the Vice President for Research. He has served on proposal review panels for the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation and as ad hoc reviewer for a variety of funding agencies and scientific journals. His scientific research and publications are primarily in the areas of molecular mechanisms of microbial drug resistance and the molecular and biochemical basis of symbiotic and pathogenic interactions of microorganisms with their plant and animal hosts. His research currently focuses on the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis that has been identified as an agent in the global decline of amphibians.
  • Dr. San Francisco is married to Dr. Susan San Francisco who also works at TTU. They have two children, two dogs and three birds. He likes to read, cook and play tennis.


Fungal-Host Interactions

  • We are studying the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis that has been implicated in the global decline of amphibians. Our particular interests are in studying essential components of early events of the fungal-frog interaction. Components of the chytrid virulence arsenal and how it survives in the absence of its host are of great interest. We have identified several proteases produced by the fungus and are also studying fungal developmental transitions (from motile zoospore to walled sporangium) in pathogenic and free-living contexts. We are also interested in biofilm formation of the fungus and its implications to survival and toxin resistance.
  • We have active collaborations studying the frog skin microbiome and are developing tools to further molecular biological studies of this fungus.

Bacterial-Host Interactions

  • We are currently studying the plant pathogen DIckyea dadantii 3937 (Erwinia chrysanthemi) that infects a wide variety of plants and plant products. We are interested in the molecular basis of the early events in the microbe-plant interaction, specifically how the bacterium recognizes the plant environment and what strategies the bacterium uses to defend itself against toxic plant chemicals. During plant infections, signaling molecules of plant origin are mobilized to amplify plant defense processes. We are interested in how this bacterial pathogen co-opts these molecules to up-regulate efflux pump gene expression. Efflux pumps in bacteria play an important role in resistance to antimicrobial agents. These studies will help us understand how the bacterium "interprets" chemical signals from the plant and enhances expression of genes that encode efflux pumps resulting in multi drug resistance and survival in the plant.
  • Research projects in our laboratory use physiological, biochemical, molecular and bioinformatics approaches to study transport across bacterial membranes and regulation of genes encoding transport protein components. We have collaborated with an international team to annotate the genome sequence of this pathogen.
Created By
Moamen Elmassry

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