Staffan Normark is a medical microbiologist that has been working on the molecular mechanisms that allow pathogenic bacteria to interact with host cells and tissues to cause disease and their tactics to evade host immune responses as well as antibiotic attack. He was born and raised in Umeå in northern Sweden and became professor in medical microbiology at its university 1979. In 1989 he became professor and department head for the Department of Molecular Microbiology at Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis USA where he holds an honorary doctoral degree. He returned to Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden 1993. He was a member of the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet and served in the Nobel Committee for Medicine or Physiology 1996-2001. During 2010-2015 he was a board member of the Nobel Foundation. He became member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 1987 and was its Permanent Secretary 2010-2015.

Research Interests

Staffan Normark has studied mechanisms by which diverse bacteria are able to colonize host tissues and resist beta-lactam antibiotics. He discovered that beta-lactam antibiotics induce beta-lactamase expression, by increasing production of cell wall fragments (muropeptides) that are taken up into the bacterial cell and sensed by a transcriptional regulator of the beta-lactamase gene. He was the first to dissect in detail the genetic basis of bacterial adhesion. His discoveries led to an understanding of the biogenesis, structure, and role of P-pili of uropathogenic E. coli providing a model and blueprint for receptor-ligand interactions in a number of pathogenic organisms. He discovered that the pilus was a multi-component structure consisting of a stalk and a specialized pilus tip adhesin, and identified key functions of the assembly proteins. Normark also studied the mechanisms for Helicobacter pylori colonization and identified fucosylated blood group antigens as gastric receptors for H. pylori. In addition, he discovered a novel class of adhesive surface organelles on gram?negative bacteria termed curli, which are biofilm promoting bacterial amyloids, determining aspects of their regulation and nucleation dependent assembly. More recently, he has together with Birgitta Henriques-Normark, forged new frontiers in pneumococcal pathogenesis, including identification and role of two classes of pili for adhesion, horizontal gene transfer, and the clonal success of antibiotic resistant strains.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 44: Microbial Biology

Secondary Section

Section 43: Immunology and Inflammation