Jason M. Crawford

Director and Member of the Institute of Biomolecular Design and Discovery
Member of Yale faculty since 2012

Research Interests

Jason Crawford, Yale U.: Chemistry at the Human-Bacteria Interface (2018)  (YouTube Interview)


The Crawford laboratory is developing and systematically applying genome sequence-guided methods for the discovery of genetically encoded small molecules from mutualistic and pathogenic microorganisms. High-throughput genome sequencing of bacteria and fungi has revealed many highly unusual “orphan” biosynthetic gene clusters suspected of synthesizing novel, structurally diverse, and biologically active small molecules. These types of naturally produced molecules often regulate complex interactions with their animal hosts, hold a rich history of being utilized as human drugs, and serve as excellent molecular probes for identifying new drug targets for a wide variety of diseases. Using a blend of small molecule chemistry, protein biochemistry, and microbiology, the lab exploits the natural interactions between bacteria and animals to discover new molecules with signaling, antimicrobial, immunosuppressant, and anticancer activities, connects them to their underlying biosynthetic gene clusters, characterizes and engineers the biosynthetic enzymes involved in their construction, and investigates their roles in biology and medicine.


Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University, 2007
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Harvard Medical School, 2007-2011


Sarah and Adolph Roseman Achievement Award, 2007
Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2009-2011
National Institutes of Health Pathway to Independence Award, Yale University, 2011
Member, Yale Chemical Biology Institute, 2012-present 
Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Dale F. Frey Award for Breakthrough Scientists, 2012
Searle Scholars Award, 2013
National Institutes of Health New Innovator Award, 2013
Member, Faculty of 1000, Chemical Biology, Small Molecule Chemistry section, 2013-present
Yale Cancer Center Pilot Project Award, 2015
Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award, 2016
Yale Pepper Center Pilot Project Award, 2016
Camille & Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, 2017
Burroughs Wellcome Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease (PATH) Award, 2017
Maxine F. Singer ‘57 PhD endowed Chair, 2018

Recent Publications

Torring, T., Shames, S. R., Cho, W., Roy, C. R., and Crawford, J. M. Acyl-histidines: New N-acyl-amides from Legionella pneumophila. ChemBioChem. 2017. DOI: 10.1002/cbic.201600618

Fischer, C. N., Trautman, E. P., Crawford, J. M., Stabb, E. V., Handelsman, J., Broderick, N. A. Metabolite exchange between microbiome members produces compounds that influence Drosphila behavior. eLife, 2017. 6:e18855.

Healy, A. R., Nikolayevskiy, H., Patel, J., Crawford, J. M., Herzon, S. B. A mechanistic model for colibactin-induced genotoxicity. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016. 138 (48): 15563-15570.

Park, H. B., Perez, C. E., Perry, E. K., Crawford, J. M. Activating and attenuating the amicoumacin antibiotics. Molecules 2016. 21(7): 824.

Park, H. B., Crawford, J. M. Pyrazinone protease inhibitor metabolites from Photorhabdus luminescens. J. Antibiot. 2016. 69(8): 616-621.

Vizcaino, M. I., Crawford, J. M. The colibactin warhead crosslinks DNA. Nature Chem. 2015. 7: 411-417.

News & Views: Schmidt, E. Natural Products: Hunting microbial metabolites. Nature Chem. 2015 7: 375-376. F1000: Tang, G.-L. 2015. Excellent Recommendation.

Research in the News: Shelton, J. Spotting a molecular warhead for disease in the human gut. YaleNews. April 6, 2015.

Guo, X., Crawford, J. M. An atypical carbohydrate-NRPS genomic island encodes a novel lytic transglycosylase. Chem. Biol. 2014. 21(10): 1271-1277.

Research in the News: Shelton, J. Setting a course for genomic islands. YaleNews. September 15, 2014.

Vizcaino, M. I., Engel, P., Trautman, E., Crawford, J. M. Comparative metabolomics and structural characterizations illuminate colibactin pathway-dependent small molecules. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014 136(26): 9244-9247.