Lab Members

William Navarre 7

Navarre Lab, July 2014

William Navarre

William Navarre, Ph.D. - Head of Laboratory

William Navarre was born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan and attended the University of Michigan as an undergraduate.  He obtained his Ph.D. in the lab of Olaf Schneewind at UCLA studying the anchoring of surface proteins in Gram-positive bacteria.  He was a Damon Runyon Postdoctoral Fellow and did post-doctoral work with Arturo Zychlinsky at New York University prior to joining the lab of Ferric Fang at the University of Washington in Seattle.  With Ferric he studied mechanisms of bacterial resistance to immune effectors.  He joined the Department of Molecular Genetics as an Assistant Professor in September of 2007 and was a CIHR New Investigator.  

In 2012 he was promoted to Associate Professor and became head of the departmental undergraduate program.  He maintains an active role in teaching and is the coordinator for MGY377H1, the main bacteriology course on campus.

William has two children (twins, Kira and Landon, pictured) and is married to Lara Koritzke, Director of Development and Communications at ISEAL Alliance.  He has an interest in science/health policy and ethics and was a director for the Forum on Science, Ethics and Policy in Seattle from 2005 to 2007.

Betty Zou, Ph.D.

Betty obtained her Ph.D. from the Navarre lab in late November 2014 and will continue on her project for a few more months to complete a manuscript she is working on.  Her project has focused on understanding the reasons why cells lacking elongation factor P are avirulent and susceptible to an array of stress conditions.

Born in China, Betty moved to Canada at the age of six where she enjoyed a rather nomadic childhood. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Western Ontario, graduating in 2008 with an Honours B.Sc. in Genetics and a Certificat de Francais Pratique.  During that time, she gained valuable research experience working in the fish physiology lab of Dr. Louise Milligan and later, in the molecular genetics lab of Dr. Shiva Singh. Betty joined the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto in September 2008.  

When not in the lab, Betty can be found running, cooking, swimming, or rock climbing (in that order) often with her husband Andrew Seto. She also enjoys roaming around the city, looking for new things to try and new places to go.  Betty is the recipient of a prestigious NSERC Vanier Fellowship and spoke about her research at the Cold Spring Harbor meeting on Microbial Pathogenesis in 2010.

Publications by Betty Zou

  • Katz, A., Solden, L., Zou, S.B., Navarre, W.W., and M. Ibba. (2014) Molecular evolution of protein-RNA mimicry as a mechanism for translational control.  Nuc. Acid. Res. 42(5):3261-3271
  • Hersch S.J., Wang, M., Zou, S.B., Moon, K-M., Foster, L.J., Ibba, M., and W.W. Navarre. (2013) Divergent protein motifs direct EF-P mediated translational regulation in Salmonella and E. coli.  mBio 4(2):e00180-13
  • Bullwinkle, T.J., Zou, S.B., Rajkovic, A., Hersch, S.J., Elgamal, S., Robinson, N., Smil, D., Navarre, W.W., and M. Ibba. (2013) (R)-β-lysine modified elongation factor P functions in translation elongation.  J. Biol. Chem. 288(6):4416-4423
  • Zou, S.B., Hersch, S.J., Roy, H., Wiggers, J.B., Leung, A.L., Buranyi, S.G., Xie, J.L., Dare, K., Ibba, M., and W.W. Navarre (2012) Loss of elongation factor P disrupts bacterial outer membrane integrity. J. Bacteriol. 194(2):413-425 
  • Zou, S.B., Roy, H., Ibba, M., and W.W Navarre. (2011) Elongation factor P mediates a novel post-transcriptional regulatory pathway critical for bacterial virulence. Virulence. 2(2): 147-151
  • Navarre, W.W., Zou, S.B., Roy, H., Xie, J.L., Savchenko, A., Singer, A., Edvokimova, E., Prost, L., Kumar, R., Ibba, M., and F.C. Fang.  (2010) PoxA, YjeK and Elongation Factor P Coordinately Modulate Virulence and Drug Resistance in Salmonella enterica. Mol. Cell. 39(2):209-221

Steven Hersch, Ph.D. Candidate

Born in Toronto, Steve is a well rounded character. In addition to his studies in Microbiology and Immunology at McGill University, he also played for the varsity baseball team and performed in multiple live theatre shows. He first conducted research as a summer student in 2008 in the structural biology lab of Dr. Mitsu Ikura. His fascination with research further developed in the retrovirus lab of Dr. Shan-Lu Liu where he carried out a final year undergraduate thesis project. After graduating with honours from McGill in 2010, Steve now plays for the University of Toronto varsity baseball team and is still an adamant theatre fan.  Steve is the recipient of a prestigious NSERC Vanier fellowship, won first place for his poster (out of 78) at the 2014 Infectious Disease Research Day, was selected to speak at the 2013 ASM General Meeting in Denver, and was awarded an Outstanding Student Poster Travel Award for the 2014 ASM General Meeting in Boston. 

Publications by Steven Hersch

  • Hersch, S.J., Elgamal, S., Katz, A., Ibba, M., and W.W. Navarre (2014) Translation Initiation Rate Determines the Impact of Ribosome Stalling on Bacterial Protein Synthesis. J. Biol. Chemdoi:10.1074/jbc.M114.593277
  • Elgamal, S., Katz, A., Hersch, S.J., Newsom, D., White, P., Navarre, W.W. and M. Ibba (2014) EF-P dependent pauses integrate proximal and distal signals during translation. PLoS Genet 10(8): e1004553. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004553
  • Hersch, S.J., Wang, M., Zou, S.B., Moon, K-M., Foster, L.J., Ibba, M., and W.W. Navarre (2013) Divergent protein motifs direct EF-P mediated translational regulation in Salmonella and E. coli.  mBio 4(2): e00180-13.  doi: 10.1128/mBio.00180-13
  • Zou, S.B., Hersch, S.J., Roy, H., Wiggers, J.B., Leung, A.L., Buranyi, S.G., Xie, J.L., Dare, K., Ibba, M., and W.W. Navarre (2012) Loss of elongation factor P disrupts bacterial outer membrane integrity. Journal of Bacteriology 194(2):413-425 

Grace Tong, MSc Candidate

Grace was born and raised in Mississauga, Ontario where she almost didn’t become the science nerd she is today because her fear of rat dissections nearly prevented her from taking biology in high school. She attended McMaster University for her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry (Biomedical Sciences Specialization Co-op) and during her 5 years, researched the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the lab of Dr. Geoff Werstuck, studied adenovirus biology in the lab of Dr. Robin Parks and conducted research into a novel compound with implications for antibiotic resistance research with Dr. Eric Brown. In her spare time, Grace enjoys baking, watching chick flicks and playing with other peoples babies. Grace is the recipient of a prestigious NSERC Graduate Fellowship.

Jeremy Soo, MSc Candidate

Jeremy was born and raised in Ottawa and attended the University of Ottawa for his undergraduate Honours degree in Biopharmaceutical Sciences: Medicinal Chemistry. He began his research career in 1st year as a summer student in the lab of Dr. May Griffith. Then he explored the field of neuroscience in Dr. Paul Albert's lab where he was working with mice and human brain tissues. Jeremy joined the department of Molecular Genetics in September 2012, and is currently a recipient of the Ontario Graduate Scholarship award. Aside from playing scientist, he engages in many sports (Basketball, volleyball, soccer, football) and also loves to play piano and guitar.

  • Ali, S.S.*, Soo, J.*, Rao, C., Leung, A.S., Ngai, D.H-M., Ensminger, A.W., and W.W. Navarre. (2014) Silencing by H-NS Potentiated the Evolution of Salmonella.  PLoS Pathogens (in press) *co-first author.

Hazel Soto-Montoya, Research Assistant

Photo on 2014-11-03 Hazel :Navarre Lab


Andrea Watson
Undergraduate Student


Bojana Radan
Undergraduate Student


Sudipta Saha
Undergraduate Student



Sabrina Ali
PhD Student, January 2008 - August 2013

Sabrina is currently a Scientist at Luminex Molecular Diagnostics in Toronto.  For her work in the Navarre lab she was the winner of the inaugural Megan Davey Memorial Award, the L.W. Macpherson Microbiology Award, an ASM General Meeting Outstanding Student Poster Award, 1st place poster (out of 80) at the Microbiology & Infectious Disease Research Day, and recieved both MSc and PhD NSERC Post-Graduate Scholarships. 

Publications by Sabrina Ali

  • Ali, S.S.*, Soo, J.*, Rao, C., Leung, A.S., Ngai, D.H-M., Ensminger, A.W., and W.W. Navarre. (2014) Silencing by H-NS Potentiated the Evolution of Salmonella.  PLoS Pathogens (in press) *co-first author.
  • Wang, H., Epstein, S., Ali, S.S., Navarre, W.W. and J. Milstein (2014) A biomechanical mechanism for initiating DNA packaging.  Nucleic Acids Research doi: 10.1093/nar/gku896
  • Ali, S.S., Whitney, J.C., Stevenson, J., Robinson, H., Howell, P.L., and W.W. Navarre (2013) Structural Insights into the Regulation of Foreign Genes in Salmonella by the Hha/H-NS Complex. Journal of Biological Chemistry 288(19):13356-13369
  • Ali, S.S., Xia, B., Liu, J., and W. W. Navarre (2012) Silencing of foreign DNA in bacteria. Current Opinion in Microbiology 15(2):175-181
  • Ali, S.S., Beckett, E., Bae, S.J., and W.W. Navarre (2011) The 5.5 protein of phage T7 inhibits H-NS through interactions with the central oligomerization domain. Journal of Bacteriology, 193(18):4881-4892


James Stevenson  (January 2008 - September 2010)
Emily Beckett  (January 2009 - December 2011)


Mike Hao (Summer 2014)
Rebecca Hylton (Summer 2013, 4th year project 2013-2014)

Bushra Ilyas (Summer 2012, 4th year project 2012-2013)
Lin Lan (2012-2013)
Tina Yang (4th year project, 2011-2012)
Stephen Buranyi (Fall 2010 - Summer 2011)
Sandy Jeehoon Bae (Summer 2009-2010 and 4th year project 2010-2011)
Lucy Jinglin Xie  (Summer 2008-2010 and 4th year project, 2009-2010)
Zhang Jichang, Peking University Exchange student (Summer 2010)
Alexandra Quimby (Summer 2009)
Runjun Kumar (Summer 2008)


Andrea Leung, MSc, Research Technician (November 2010 - November 2013)
Brad Wiggers, CREMS Research Fellow (Winter 2010 - Summer 2011)
Robin Imperial, Research Assistant  (Sept 2007 - Aug 2008)
Hiroyuki Aoki, Ph.D. Research Associate (Sept 2007 - May 2009)

Navarre lab - university of Toronto