Mohamed S. Donia

Associate Professor of Molecular Biology
Office Phone
A5 Guyot Hall

B.Sc., Pharmacy, College of Pharmacy, Suez Canal University, Egypt, 2004

Ph.D., Medicinal Chemistry, College of Pharmacy, University of Utah, 2010


Honor and Awards

  • ASPIRE Award (Advancing Science Through Pfizer Investigator Research Exchange Research Awards), Pfizer, 2018
  • Dean for Research Innovation Award for New Ideas in the Natural Sciences, Princeton University, 2018
  • Innovation, Breakthrough, and Phase III Award, Kenneth Rainin Foundation, 2015-2017
  • Pew Biomedical Scholar, The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2017
  • Director’s New Innovator Award, National Institute of Health, 2015


  • Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Biology
  • Associated Faculty, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
  • Associated Faculty, Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics

Research Interests

Small-molecule-mediated interactions in complex microbial communities

Much like human beings, microbes often live in diverse communities interacting with both collaborators and competitors. Small molecule natural products mediate a significant portion of these interactions. As expected, the more complex a microbial community is, the richer its small molecule chemical arsenal becomes. This phenomenon has been observed in the complex microbiomes of marine invertebrates, terrestrial soils, human gut, and the plant rhizosphere, among others. Our research interests are mainly to decipher, manipulate, and engineer the chemical and biological interactions within complex microbial communities (microbe-microbe interactions) and between microbial communities and their multicellular hosts (microbe-host interactions). We use computational, chemical, and biological approaches to achieve these goals. For more details, please visit our website at

Selected Publications
  1. Zan, J., Li, Z., Tianero, M. D., Davis, J., Hill, R. T, Donia, M. S. A microbial factory for defensive kahalalides in a tripartite marine symbiosis. Science. 2019 Jun 14;364(6445).
  2. Donia, M. S.; Cimermancic, P.; Schulze, C. J.; Wieland Brown, L. C.; Martin, J.; Mitreva, M.; Clardy, J.; Linington, R. & Fischbach, M. A. A systematic analysis of biosynthetic gene clusters in the human microbiome reveals a common family of antibiotics. Cell. 2014. 158, 6, 1402-1414.
  3. Donia, M. S.; Ravel, J.; Schmidt, E. W. A global assembly line for cyanobactins. Nature Chem. Biol. 2008, 4, 6, 341-3.
  4. Donia, M. S.; Hathaway, B. J.; Sudek, S.; Haygood, M. G.; Rosovitz, M. J.; Ravel, J.; Schmidt, E. W. Natural combinatorial peptide libraries in cyanobacterial symbionts of marine ascidians. Nature Chem. Biol. 2006, 2, (12), 729-735.