Francois Lebreton, Ph.D.

Research Summary

Research Summary

Dr. Francois Lebreton applies genomic technologies to the important and rapidly growing problem of microbial antibiotic resistance. His research focuses on discovering new insights into the evolution of hospital adapted bacterial pathogens and developing new ways to treat and prevent antibiotic resistant infections of the eye, ear, skin and other sites. He is extensively trained in the epidemiology and molecular aspects of bacterial antimicrobial resistance. He worked with Dr. Michael Gilmore on developing comparative and functional genomic analyses to identify traits that make bacterial infections naturally refractory to antibiotic treatment; factors that allow enterococci bacterial cells to colonize the various ecologies in humans and other hosts; and characteristics that predispose hospital adapted bacteria to readily develop drug resistance.

His most recent work consists of a technical tour de force and shows that the terrestrialization of animals, 425 MYA, foreordained the enterococci bacteria to become leading hospital pathogens in the 20th and 21st centuries. This is a unique story in relating the evolution of specific microbial traits to planetary events.

Selected Publications

For a full publication list, please see his CV.

Gilmore MS, Rauch M, Ramsey MM, Himes PR, Varahan S, Manson JM, Lebreton F, Hancock LE. Pheromone killing of multidrug-resistant Enterococcus faecalis V583 by native commensal strains. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Jun 9;112(23):7273-8.

Lebreton F, Willems RJL, Gilmore MS. Enterococcus Diversity, Origins in Nature, and Gut Colonization. 2014 Feb 2. In: Gilmore MS, Clewell DB, Ike Y, Shankar N, editors. Enterococci: From Commensals to Leading Causes of Drug Resistant Infection [Internet]. Boston: Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary; 2014-.

Lebreton F, van Schaik W, McGuire AM, Godfrey P, Griggs A, Mazumdar V, Corander J, Cheng L, Saif S, Young S, Zeng Q, Wortman J, Birren B, Willems RJ, Earl AM, Gilmore MS. Emergence of epidemic multidrug-resistant Enterococcus faecium from animal and commensal strains. MBio. 2013 Aug 20;4(4). pii:e00534-13.

Lebreton F, van Schaik W, Sanguinetti M, Posteraro B, Torelli R, Le Bras F, Verneuil N, Zhang X, Giard JC, Dhalluin A, Willems RJ, Leclercq R, Cattoir V. AsrR is an oxidative stress sensing regulator modulating Enterococcus faecium opportunistic traits, antimicrobial resistance, and pathogenicity. PLoS Pathog. 2012;8(8):e1002834.

Lebreton F, Depardieu F, Bourdon N, Fines-Guyon M, Berger P, Camiade S, Leclercq R, Courvalin P, Cattoir V. D-Ala-d-Ser VanN-type transferable vancomycin resistance in Enterococcus faecium. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2011 Oct;55(10):4606-12.

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2006: B.Sc., Biochemistry, Faculty of Sciences, University of Caen, France

2008: M.Sc., Molecular and Cellular Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Caen, France

2011: Ph.D., Molecular and Cellular Biology, Medical School of the University of Caen, France

Postgraduate Training

2011-2013: Research Associate, Microbiology, Harvard Medical School/Mass. Eye and Ear

2011-2016: Research Associate, Microbial genomics, The Broad Institute

2013-2016: Senior Research Associate, Microbiology, Harvard Medical School/Mass. Eye and Ear


2008: MS Award for Academic Excellence, University of Caen, France

2008: MNERT Ph.D. fellowship for Academic Excellence, University of Caen, France

2010: Travel Grant, University of Caen

2010: Travel Grant, American Society for Microbiology

2011: Travel Grant, University of Caen

2013: Best Presentation, 9th Conference on Gram-Positive

2014: Travel Grant, Federation of European Microbiological Societies

2014: Best Presentation, European Molecular Biology Organization Conference on Microbiology, Pasteur Institute, Paris

2015: Best Presentation, Gordon Research Seminar, Newport, Rhode Island