Before becoming Deputy Science and Research Director, Mark Strom worked as a microbiologist at the NWFSC from 1992 until 2012, and as the Program Manager from 2003-2012. Dr. Strom's past research included studies of the underlying mechanisms of toxin gene acquisition by bacterial pathogens, the relationships of extrachromosomal elements (plasmids) in bacterial virulence, the study of the molecular mechanisms involved in bacterial protein secretion, and expression of bacterial cell surface colonization factors. Past work included several genetic and biochemical structure-function studies on factors that are required for assembly of type IV pili and type II proteins secretion in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. His overall primary research interests are the molecular mechanisms of virulence of pathogenic bacteria, with an emphasis on therapeutic treatments and vaccine development. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 1992 and holds Affiliate Faculty appointments in the University of Washington Department of Microbiology/ School of Medicine and the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences.
More recently, Dr. Strom worked on a project involving sequencing of the genome of the salmon pathogen R. salmoninarum, which provided new insight and information that may be used in the development of more effective, targeted therapeutics and vaccines. During his tenure, the Microbiology Program was responsible for disease diagnostics and pathology on salmon reared in the Manchester Field Station and Burley Creek Hatchery Captive Broodstock programs at the NWFSC, and Dr. Strom served as the NMFS Technical Pathology Representative to the Pacific Northwest Fish Health Protection Committee. In addition to this work, Dr. Strom also carried out research on the molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis of Vibrio vulnficus and V. parahaemolyticus, and initiated bacterial population studies using genetics and genomics to understand V. parahaemolyticus strain variability and virulence. This information will directly feed into the development of improved identification and early warning tools and improve seafood safety.