Graduate Degree

  • California Institute of Technology , 1988 , Pasadena , CA

Medical School

  • Yale School of Medicine , 1991 , New Haven , CT


Internal Medicine
  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center , 1992 , Boston , MA


Internal Medicine
  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center , 1993 , Boston , MA


Infectious Diseases
  • Massachusetts General Hospital , 1995 , Boston , MA

Philosophy of Care

I came to Boston Children’s Hospital to be part of this research and clinical directive to develop and provide state of the art solutions to healthcare dilemmas facing the pediatric population today. I believe not only in providing the best possible care I am capable of to each patient, but also prioritize listening carefully and respectfully to patients and their families.


After a year as a Fulbright Fellow in the laboratory of Kurt Wuthrich in Zurich Switzerland, Paula Watnick obtained a PhD in biophysical chemistry from the California Institute of Technology and then received an MD from Yale University School of Medicine. She completed an Internal Medicine internship and Residency at Beth Israel Hospital Boston and an Infectious Diseases Fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital. After postdoctoral fellowships in the laboratories of Dr. Stephen Calderwood and Dr. Roberto Kolter, Dr. Watnick joined the faculty of the Division of Geographic Medicine and Infectious Diseases at New England Medical Center where she started her own laboratory researching bacterial biofilms and attended on the clinical Infectious Diseases service. She came to Boston Children’s Hospital in 2010 where, in addition to her clinical responsibilities within the Infectious Diseases Division and her educational responsibilities at Harvard Medical School, she has continued basic and translational research. Her laboratory studies the metabolic interactions of arthropod and mammalian hosts with their intestinal bacteria in order to understand how to prevent chronic metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity as well as diseases of poverty such as malnutrition. In addition, the laboratory is developing a novel whole cell vaccine platform targeted at diarrheal diseases of the developing world and has identified several small molecules active against multi-drug resistant bacteria.


  • American Board of Internal Medicine
  • American Board of Internal Medicine, Infectious Diseases


Publications powered by Harvard Catalyst Profiles

  1. The Short-Chain Fatty Acids Propionate and Butyrate Augment Adherent-Invasive Escherichia coli Virulence but Repress Inflammation in a Human Intestinal Enteroid Model of Infection. Microbiol Spectr. 2021 10 31; 9(2):e0136921. View abstract
  2. Microbiota-derived acetate activates intestinal innate immunity via the Tip60 histone acetyltransferase complex. Immunity. 2021 08 10; 54(8):1683-1697.e3. View abstract
  3. The Interplay of Sex Steroids, the Immune Response, and the Intestinal Microbiota. Trends Microbiol. 2021 09; 29(9):849-859. View abstract
  4. Methionine Availability in the Arthropod Intestine Is Elucidated through Identification of Vibrio cholerae Methionine Acquisition Systems. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2020 05 19; 86(11). View abstract
  5. Vibrio cholerae Sheds Its Coat to Make Itself Comfortable in the Gut. Cell Host Microbe. 2020 02 12; 27(2):161-163. View abstract
  6. Microbial Control of Intestinal Homeostasis via Enteroendocrine Cell Innate Immune Signaling. Trends Microbiol. 2020 02; 28(2):141-149. View abstract
  7. A high-throughput, whole cell assay to identify compounds active against carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae. PLoS One. 2018; 13(12):e0209389. View abstract
  8. Removal of a Membrane Anchor Reveals the Opposing Regulatory Functions of Vibrio cholerae Glucose-Specific Enzyme IIA in Biofilms and the Mammalian Intestine. mBio. 2018 09 04; 9(5). View abstract
  9. A Self-Assembling Whole-Cell Vaccine Antigen Presentation Platform. J Bacteriol. 2018 08 01; 200(15). View abstract
  10. The Drosophila Immune Deficiency Pathway Modulates Enteroendocrine Function and Host Metabolism. Cell Metab. 2018 09 04; 28(3):449-462.e5. View abstract
  11. Sublingual Adjuvant Delivery by a Live Attenuated Vibrio cholerae-Based Antigen Presentation Platform. mSphere. 2018 06 27; 3(3). View abstract
  12. Activation of Vibrio cholerae quorum sensing promotes survival of an arthropod host. Nat Microbiol. 2018 02; 3(2):243-252. View abstract
  13. Vibrio cholerae ensures function of host proteins required for virulence through consumption of luminal methionine sulfoxide. PLoS Pathog. 2017 Jun; 13(6):e1006428. View abstract
  14. Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae Suppurative Arthritis in a 12-year-old Boy After an Unusual Fresh Water Exposure. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2017 04; 36(4):431-433. View abstract
  15. The interplay between intestinal bacteria and host metabolism in health and disease: lessons from Drosophila melanogaster. Dis Model Mech. 2016 Mar; 9(3):271-81. View abstract
  16. Regulation of CsrB/C sRNA decay by EIIA(Glc) of the phosphoenolpyruvate: carbohydrate phosphotransferase system. Mol Microbiol. 2016 Feb; 99(4):627-39. View abstract
  17. In situ proteolysis of the Vibrio cholerae matrix protein RbmA promotes biofilm recruitment. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Aug 18; 112(33):10491-6. View abstract
  18. The acetate switch of an intestinal pathogen disrupts host insulin signaling and lipid metabolism. . 2014 Nov 12; 16(5):592-604. View abstract
  19. The transcription factor Mlc promotes Vibrio cholerae biofilm formation through repression of phosphotransferase system components. J Bacteriol. 2014 Jul; 196(13):2423-30. View abstract
  20. Cholera toxin disrupts barrier function by inhibiting exocyst-mediated trafficking of host proteins to intestinal cell junctions. Cell Host Microbe. 2013 Sep 11; 14(3):294-305. View abstract
  21. Mutations in the IMD pathway and mustard counter Vibrio cholerae suppression of intestinal stem cell division in Drosophila. mBio. 2013 Jun 18; 4(3):e00337-13. View abstract
  22. Mannitol and the mannitol-specific enzyme IIB subunit activate Vibrio cholerae biofilm formation. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2013 Aug; 79(15):4675-83. View abstract
  23. Glucose-specific enzyme IIA has unique binding partners in the vibrio cholerae biofilm. mBio. 2012 Nov 06; 3(6):e00228-12. View abstract
  24. The bacterial biofilm matrix as a platform for protein delivery. mBio. 2012; 3(4):e00127-12. View abstract
  25. The Drosophila protein mustard tailors the innate immune response activated by the immune deficiency pathway. J Immunol. 2012 Apr 15; 188(8):3993-4000. View abstract
  26. A high-throughput screen identifies a new natural product with broad-spectrum antibacterial activity. PLoS One. 2012; 7(2):e31307. View abstract
  27. Spatially selective colonization of the arthropod intestine through activation of Vibrio cholerae biofilm formation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Dec 06; 108(49):19737-42. View abstract
  28. A communal bacterial adhesin anchors biofilm and bystander cells to surfaces. PLoS Pathog. 2011 Aug; 7(8):e1002210. View abstract
  29. The phosphoenolpyruvate phosphotransferase system regulates Vibrio cholerae biofilm formation through multiple independent pathways. J Bacteriol. 2010 Jun; 192(12):3055-67. View abstract
  30. Vibrio cholerae phosphoenolpyruvate phosphotransferase system control of carbohydrate transport, biofilm formation, and colonization of the germfree mouse intestine. Infect Immun. 2010 Apr; 78(4):1482-94. View abstract
  31. Signals, regulatory networks, and materials that build and break bacterial biofilms. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2009 Jun; 73(2):310-47. View abstract
  32. Genetic analysis of Drosophila melanogaster susceptibility to intestinal Vibrio cholerae infection. Cell Microbiol. 2009 Mar; 11(3):461-74. View abstract
  33. Genetic analysis of Vibrio cholerae monolayer formation reveals a key role for DeltaPsi in the transition to permanent attachment. J Bacteriol. 2008 Dec; 190(24):8185-96. View abstract
  34. A novel role for enzyme I of the Vibrio cholerae phosphoenolpyruvate phosphotransferase system in regulation of growth in a biofilm. J Bacteriol. 2008 Jan; 190(1):311-20. View abstract
  35. NspS, a predicted polyamine sensor, mediates activation of Vibrio cholerae biofilm formation by norspermidine. J Bacteriol. 2005 Nov; 187(21):7434-43. View abstract
  36. Vibrio cholerae infection of Drosophila melanogaster mimics the human disease cholera. PLoS Pathog. 2005 Sep; 1(1):e8. View abstract
  37. Identification of novel stage-specific genetic requirements through whole genome transcription profiling of Vibrio cholerae biofilm development. Mol Microbiol. 2005 Sep; 57(6):1623-35. View abstract
  38. Role for glycine betaine transport in Vibrio cholerae osmoadaptation and biofilm formation within microbial communities. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2005 Jul; 71(7):3840-7. View abstract
  39. Genetic evidence that the Vibrio cholerae monolayer is a distinct stage in biofilm development. Mol Microbiol. 2004 Apr; 52(2):573-87. View abstract
  40. The Vibrio cholerae O139 O-antigen polysaccharide is essential for Ca2+-dependent biofilm development in sea water. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Nov 25; 100(24):14357-62. View abstract
  41. Role of ectoine in Vibrio cholerae osmoadaptation. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2003 Oct; 69(10):5919-27. View abstract
  42. Environmental determinants of Vibrio cholerae biofilm development. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2003 Sep; 69(9):5079-88. View abstract
  43. Identification and characterization of a Vibrio cholerae gene, mbaA, involved in maintenance of biofilm architecture. J Bacteriol. 2003 Feb; 185(4):1384-90. View abstract
  44. Vibrio cholerae CytR is a repressor of biofilm development. Mol Microbiol. 2002 Jul; 45(2):471-83. View abstract
  45. Paula I Watnick--elucidating the role of biofilms. Interview by Pam Das. Lancet Infect Dis. 2002 Mar; 2(3):190-2. View abstract
  46. The absence of a flagellum leads to altered colony morphology, biofilm development and virulence in Vibrio cholerae O139. Mol Microbiol. 2001 Jan; 39(2):223-35. View abstract
  47. Biofilm, city of microbes. J Bacteriol. 2000 May; 182(10):2675-9. View abstract
  48. Vibrio cholerae VibF is required for vibriobactin synthesis and is a member of the family of nonribosomal peptide synthetases. J Bacteriol. 2000 Mar; 182(6):1731-8. View abstract
  49. Steps in the development of a Vibrio cholerae El Tor biofilm. Mol Microbiol. 1999 Nov; 34(3):586-95. View abstract
  50. A role for the mannose-sensitive hemagglutinin in biofilm formation by Vibrio cholerae El Tor. J Bacteriol. 1999 Jun; 181(11):3606-9. View abstract
  51. Genetic approaches to study of biofilms. Methods Enzymol. 1999; 310:91-109. View abstract
  52. The interaction of the Vibrio cholerae transcription factors, Fur and IrgB, with the overlapping promoters of two virulence genes, irgA and irgB. Gene. 1998 Mar 16; 209(1-2):65-70. View abstract
  53. Purification of Vibrio cholerae fur and estimation of its intracellular abundance by antibody sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. J Bacteriol. 1997 Jan; 179(1):243-7. View abstract
  54. Hydrophobic mismatch in gramicidin A'/lecithin systems. Biochemistry. 1990 Jul 03; 29(26):6215-21. View abstract
  55. Characterization of the transverse relaxation rates in lipid bilayers. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 Mar; 87(6):2082-6. View abstract
  56. Conformations of model peptides in membrane-mimetic environments. Biophys J. 1982 Jan; 37(1):275-84. View abstract