Slava Epstein



Ph.D., Microbial Ecology, P.P.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian National Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
M.S., Marine Biology, Moscow State University, Russia
B.S., Biology, Moscow State University, Russia

Area(s) of Expertise

Microbial ecology, diversity, and biotechnology

Research Interests

The overarching theme of my laboratory is microbial discovery in the environment and human microbiome. We uncover novel microbial life forms by inventing novel cultivation strategies that depart from conventional wisdom and provide access to the greatest part of microbial diversity: unexplored species missed in the past. We study properties of new environmental and medically important microorganisms, and their strategies of survival. We are especially interested to know how microbial cell reacts to unfavorable conditions, survives environmental challenge, and decides when and where to start dividing and form a new successful population. We are intrigued by the phenomenon of microbial individuality: ability of isogenic cells to be phenotypically different. We are fascinated by signaling and cooperative interactions between and within populations, – interactions that integrate microbial species into multifunctional units analogues to multicellular organisms. We are also involved into several aspects of applied microbiology, and explore the importance of newly discovered species in human health, their potential for bioremediation and alternative fuel production, and ability to produce bioactive compounds. And we are excited to learn about patterns of microbial distribution on our planet, in a search for places in the biosphere where the opportunities to discover new microbes are the greatest.

Lab Website

Curriculum Vitae



305 Mugar Life Sciences

Slava Epstein: From immigrant painter to world-renowned biologist

When Slava Epstein first arrived in America, he had little more than his family, a smuggled cat, and an “enormous amount of data” from his research in Russia. In 2015, he was part of one of the world’s biggest scientific stories.

Biologist, inventor, problem solver

A deep read about Professor Slava Epstein’s research, discoveries, and painting skills.

Lewis, Epstein named Global Thinkers of 2015

Each year for the past seven years, Foreign Policy selected the leading Global Thinkers whose contributions and work have changed lives and are shaping the world.

Biology professor featured in Canadian Medical Association Journal

“Professor Slava Epstein says the technology that led to the discovery of teixobactin could be used to unearth thousands of medically useful microbes,” writes the CMAJ.