Ethel Bayer-Santos

  • Assistant Professor
  • Molecular Biosciences

The EBSlab is focused on (micro)biological conflicts and the weapons used by bacteria to target competitors. The group uses Salmonella and a specialized contractile nanoweapon called T6SS to understand how enteric pathogens overcome colonization resistance imposed by members of the microbiota and establish an infection. The effectors secreted by the T6SS comprise a pool of proteins with interesting new biochemical activities, providing opportunities for several interdisciplinary projects encompassing microbiology, cell biology, biochemistry, structural biology and bioinformatic. 


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Dr. Ethel Bayer Santos is a biologist by degree. She completed a joint PhD in Microbiology and Immunology at the Federal University of Sao Paulo and the University of Texas at El Paso studying the secretion pathways of the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. She moved to Imperial College London to work as a postdoctoral fellow in the group of Prof. David Holden and identified the molecular mechanism of the Salmonella T3SS effector that suppresses T cell activation via MHCII downregulation. Ethel returned to Brazil and joined the group of Prof. Chuck Farah at the University of Sao Paulo where she characterized the function of the T6SS of Xanthomonas citri that promotes resistance to amoeba predation, and of the T4SS of Stenotrophomonas maltophilia that has bacteria killing properties. In 2018, Dr. Bayer-Santos was awarded a FAPESP Young Investigator to start her group at the University of Sao Paulo focused on the characterization of Salmonella T6SS effectors. In 2024, she joined UT Austin as an Assistant Professor to continue and expand her work.


Research Areas

  • Infectious Disease, Immunology and Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology or Genetics
  • Biochemistry

Fields of Interest

  • Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Disease
  • Molecular Biology, Genetics & Genomics
  • Biochemistry

Centers and Institutes

  • Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Graduate Programs
  • John Ring LaMontagne Center for Infectious Disease


  • B.Sc. in Biological Sciences, Federal University of Santa Catarina.
  • Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology, Federal University of Sao Paulo.
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Imperial College London.



  • FAPESP Young Investigator
  • Luiz Trabulsi Award in Science