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Michael Perkins Fund

The Perkins Fund is fully committed in 2016/17

Michael Perkins Lecture 2016

Monday 31 October 2016

The Multi-Organismal Animal: Why Microbiomes Matter

Prof Angela E Douglas  Daljit S. and Elaine Sarkaria Professor of Insect Physiology & Toxicology, Cornell University, USA

We are not alone.  All healthy animals are inhabited by microorganisms, and every animal has an inner ecosystem in which it is both the habitat and key participant in interactions with microbial communities.  Recent research on insects provides insights into these interactions and their impacts on the health and fitness of animals, as well as animal evolution.  I will focus on two systems: how insect utilization of plant sap is dependent on intracellular bacteria, many of which have evolved to an organelle-like condition; and the gut microbiota of Drosophila fruit flies, including how dysbiosis makes “fat flies”.  These multi-organismal insects offer novel targets for the control of insect pests and disease vectors, biomedical models for metabolic disease, and a reminder that many animal traits are shaped by the interaction between animal genotype, environment and microbiome.


From the Statutes and Ordinances of the University of Cambridge, 2006

  • The money received from the Reverend J.H.T.Perkins for the furtherance of the study of the natural history of animals shall form a fund called the Michael Perkins Fund.
  • The administration of the income of the Fund shall be entrusted to the Head of the Department of Zoology and two other Managers, who shall be appointed by the Faculty Board of Biology in the Michaelmas Term to serve for five years from 1 January following their appointment. All the powers of the Managers may be exercised by a majority of those present at a meeting, provided that two Managers at least be present.
  • The income of the Fund shall be applied:
    • to the payment of a lecturer, to be called the Michael Perkins Lecturer
    • to the furtherance of the study of the natural history of animals by the occasional award, at the discretion of the Managers and subject to such conditions as they may think fit, of prizes or grants of money to young graduates of the University
    • to such other purposes as may from time to time be approved by the Faculty Board of Biology.
  • The Michael Perkins Lecturer shall be appointed by the Managers of the Michael Perkins Fund. The Lecturer shall hold office for one year, and shall be required to give one lecture on a subject, approved by the Managers, dealing with original investigation or interpretation of the natural history of animals.

The income from the Fund is used wholly to support the costs of inviting and hosting the guest Michael Perkins Lecturer and applications for other purposes are not at present invited. Recent Michael Perkins Lecturers are as follows:

  • 2016    Angela E Douglas
  • 2010    Joan Strassmann
  • 2009    Sean Carroll
  • 2008    Jeremy Jackson
  • 2005    Paul Brakefield
  • 2003    Simon Levin
  • 2002    Gilles Laurent
  • 1997    Joel Cohen
  • 1996    Bert Hölldobler
  • 1994    John Krebs
  • 1989    Rudiger Wehner
  • 1985    David Attenborough
  • 1984    Vernon Mountcastle
  • 1982    Eric Kandel