Founded in 2017, Phage Directory’s mission is to help unlock the untapped potential of phages for phage therapy and biocontrol by empowering people to access, use and build upon the world’s phage knowledge.
Phages are a massively diverse, ubiquitous natural class of bacteria-targeting viruses. Well-understood phages can be harnessed to precisely detect and manipulate microbes in almost any environment, from the human body to crop fields, from hospitals to beehives.
Harnessing phages for phage therapy can mean treating or preventing bacterial infections, even antibiotic-resistant infections, without harming healthy microbiomes. Using phages as industrial biocontrol agents can mean treating or preventing crop and livestock disease, decontaminating water, protecting pipes from corrosion, and more. Long-term, incorporation of phages into healthcare and industrial processes can reduce our global dependence on antibiotics and keep the superbug crisis from worsening.
In July 2019, the Phage Directory team received an Open Science Mini-Grant from Mozilla (made possible by the Leona M. & Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust). These funds will support the creation of a system of tracking phages and phage work around the globe. The project will involve building a phage indexing system and a platform for publishing phage metadata and insights.
As an independent, two-person organization aiming to find a sustainable way to continue operations far into the future, we welcome suggestions for collaborations, partnerships, sources of funding and opportunities to create value for phage researchers, developers, funders and investors.
Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org | @phagedirectory | Schedule a chat
We think that scientific knowledge should be transparent and easily shared within the phage community.
We believe science moves faster when research findings are easy to access and free to read.
We strive to write our code in the open. Take a look at our Github repository.
We track phages, the bacterial hosts they infect, where they’ve been found, and who’s currently working on them.
We help phage researchers, organizations, and labs share their expertise, their needs, and their phages with the community.
We send alerts when phages are requested by medical teams to treat urgent infections.
Capsid & Tail
We publish a weekly digest of the latest phage research and industry news, jobs, and a community message board.
We help people find phage experts and collaborators for research, phage therapy and beyond. Need to find the right expert?
We collaborate with phage conferences like Phage Futures and the Evergreen International Phage Meeting to help them reach more of the phage community.
CapsID Phage Tracker
A global database of phages and their metadata.
Phage Data Publishing
Open access, affordable, citable, peer-reviewed phage publications, starting with phage characterization reports and phage genome reports.
Clinical Phage Resources
Resources and a closed network for the medical community. Stay on top of clinical trials, case reports, and the latest research and material on phage therapy.
Jan Zheng and Jessica Sacher created Phage Directory in November 2017. Jessica was a phage biology PhD student, and Jan was a freelance startup consultant and user experience designer. One day, scrolling through Twitter, Jessica saw a tweet from Steffanie Strathdee, the UCSD professor who’d successfully coordinated phage therapy for her husband Tom. (Their story is now a book: The Perfect Predator).
#Phage researchers! I am working with a team to get Burkholderia cepacia phages to treat a 25 y old woman with CF whose infection has failed all #antibiotics. We need lytic non-lysogenic phage URGENTLY to find suitable phage matches. Email email@example.com if you can help!— Dr Steffanie Strathdee, 🗡️Superbug Slayer 🗡️ (@chngin_the_wrld) November 8, 2017
Steffanie’s tweet urgently called for researchers to donate phages to treat 25-year-old Mallory Smith’s life-threatening lung infection. Antibiotics had stopped working, and phages were her only option.
Shortly after the first, another tweet from Steffanie came through. This time, she was thanking a University of Alberta lab for donating phages on Mallory’s behalf. Coincidentally, Jessica had previously worked in the lab next door to that one. This realization hit close to home, and made her realize that labs like hers were getting involved in potentially lifesaving treatments like these. She showed the tweets to Jan, who was perplexed to know that a) lifesaving phages could be given to patients, and b) that these treatments were being organized through Twitter.
Digging into the problem and available solutions, Jan and Jessica found that official channels for coordinating phage therapy were sorely lacking. This led them to brainstorm ways they could use their combined backgrounds in tech, user experience design, community-building and phage biology to make a difference. Within a few days, they’d begun building an online directory to track phage labs around the world, and had built a Phage Alert service to help medical doctors find phages for patients with life-threatening antibiotic-resistant infections.
On Wednesday, November 15, 2017, two days before the Phage Directory website went live, the news came that Mallory had passed away. (Mallory’s memoir has since been published as a book: Salt in my Soul). This sad news spurred the project and its founders on, with the hope that better coordination of phage therapy efforts and better access to safe, well-characterized phages could save the lives of future patients.
In the weeks that passed, the encouragement of Steffanie Strathdee (who later went on to co-found the Center for Innovative Phage Applications and Therapeutics), Tobi Nagel (founder of Phages for Global Health), Eric Boodman (a STAT News reporter), Joanne Kamens (Director of Addgene) …
Phage Directory created
Phage Directory created in response to Steffanie Strathdee’s Twitter request for phages to treat Mallory Smith.
Mallory Smith passes away
Mallory Smith passes away, as phages could not be administered to her in time (see her since-published memoir, Salt in my Soul: An Unfinished Life).
Start of Phage Directory
Launch of Phage Directory website and @phagedirectory Twitter account.
STAT News interview
An interview with Jan and Jessica about Phage Directory is published by STAT News.
NSF I-Corps Program
Jan and Jessica are accepted into UGA’s NSF I-Corps program to evaluate the market potential for Phage Directory. This was a 6-week customer discovery program that included funding to travel to meet and speak with phage researchers over the next 6 months.
Jessica successfully defends her PhD
Jessica defends her PhD thesis in Campylobacter phage biology!
Phage research in Europe
Jan and Jessica tour around Europe to meet with phage labs and better understand the landscape of phage research and applications.
Phages.fr in Bordeaux Meeting
Jan and Jessica attend Phages in Bordeaux, the 4th annual meeting of the French Phage Network.
Capsid & Tail launched
Capsid & Tail created in response to a perceived interest in the phage community in phage-related news and research updates, and a lack of an existing platform dedicated to the phage community.
Jobs Section launched
Phage Directory’s Jobs page is launched.
Phage Directory Community Board
Phage Directory’s Community Board is launched in response to a phage therapy request for a turtle
Kisaco Research’s Phage Futures Congress in Washington, DC
Jan and Jessica attend Kisaco Research’s Phage Futures Congress in Washington, DC. (Read our recap here!). Phage Directory is a media partner for the event.
Sourcing Phages for Compassionate Use
Jessica and Jan, alongside coauthor Shawna McCallin, publish an opinion article on Sourcing Phages for Compassionate Use in Microbiology Australia.
Hansonwade Bacteriophage Therapy Summit
Jessica attends Hansonwade Bacteriophage Therapy Summit in Boston, MA. Phage Directory was the media partner for the event.
First Guest Writer
Lucy Furfaro is Capsid & Tail’s first guest writer, with a feature article on perinatal phage therapy.
Current State of Compassionate Phage Therapy
Jessica and Jan’s review on the Current State of Compassionate Phage Therapy, coauthored with Shawna McCallin and Ben Chan, is published in Viruses.
A Bright Outlook for Bacteriophage Applications on Microbiome Times
Jessica’s editorial on the outlook for phage applications is published in the Microbiome Times, and the piece receives Editor’s Choice for the Pharma and Human Health category!
Phage Futures Partnership
Phage Directory partners with Kisaco Research as lead media partner for the Phage Futures EU conference in Brussels in 2019 and for the 2020 Phage Futures Congress in Washington, DC.
Mozilla Open Science Grant
Mozilla Open Science Mini-Grant awarded to the Phage Directory team! The grant will support prototyping of a phage metadata and publication system, and was made possible by the Mozilla Foundation and the Leona M. & Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.
Jessica and Jan’s chapter, Phage Therapy Collaboration and Compassionate Use, is accepted for publication in the textbook Bacteriophages: Biology, Technology, Therapy, published by Springer.
Phage Directory v3 Launched
Phage Directory has been completely rebuilt and modernized for a better user experience, and now supports phage labs, organizations, profiles, and more. This new platform lets us catalogue phage metadata and venture into the world of science publications.
Phage Insights Launched
Phage Directory launhes its new preprint and micropublication platform, Phage Insights
Evergreen Phage Meeting in Olympia, WA
Jan and Jessica attends the Evergreen Phage Meeting in Olympia, WA, and actively starts to recruit authors, reviewers, and editors for Phage Insights, Phage Directory’s new preprint and micropublication platform
Phage Directory runs on a lot of software, and a lot of it uses open source software. Take a look at our tech page to see what we use or our Github Page for the underlying code.