SMB Faculty Profiles

Leigh Knodler

Leigh Knodler

Associate Professor

Phone: 509-335-4046


  • WSU Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health (primary appointment)
  • School of Molecular Biosciences, WSU (affiliate faculty)
  • Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, WSU (affiliate faculty)
  • Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Melbourne (Honorary Associate Professor)

Affiliated Organizations

  • American Society of Microbiology (ASM), member and Northwest branch president
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science, member



Dr. Knodler obtained her PhD from the University of New South Wales in Australia in 1995. Her thesis focused on novel metabolic pathways in the protozoan parasite, Giardia intestinalis. From 1996 to 1999 she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at San Diego studying gene regulation during the developmental cycle of Giardia. In 2000 she moved to Vancouver, Canada for a postdoctoral position in the laboratory of Dr. B. Brett Finlay where she studied the Salmonella enterica pathogenesis. She continued her studies on Salmonella-host cell interactions at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID in Montana from 2002-2012, first as a Research Fellow and then as a Staff Scientist. Dr Knodler was recruited to the WSU Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health as an Assistant Professor in October 2012.

Personal Statement

I grew up on a cattle farm in Australia and always wanted to be outside, playing in the dirt. At a very young age I was given a magnifying glass and a microscope by my family because I was so interested in all the small bugs crawling around. Science was my favorite subject at school, even though it was not the easiest subject for me. I originally trained as a biochemist, studying parasite metabolism, so there has always been a link to microbes in my research. It was not until I moved to the US for a postdoc and saw Stanley Falkow speak at a regional ASM meeting that I was drawn to the bacterial pathogenesis field. He is considered the "father" of bacterial pathogenesis as a field of study, and his seminar captivated me so much that I ended up doing a second postdoc in Canada so I could work on Salmonella. Then I was hooked.

When I am not at work, I like to dig in my garden, renovate houses, travel to exotic places and mountain bike with my husband.

Education and Training

  • BSc (First Class Honours) – University of New South Wales
  • PhD – University of New South Wales 
List of Publications

Select Publications

  • Jessica A. Klein, Jesse R. Grenz, James M. Slauch, Leigh A. Knodler (2017) Controlled Activity of the Salmonella Invasion-Associated Injectisome Reveals Its Intracellular Role in the Cytosolic Population mBio vol. 8 no. 6 e01931-17 PMID: 29208746 PMCID: PMC5717391
  • Du J, Reeves AZ, Klein JA, Twedt DJ, Knodler LA, Lesser CF. (2016) The type III secretion system apparatus determines the intracellular niche of bacterial pathogens. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 113(17):4794-9. PMID: 27078095 PMCID: PMC4855615
  • Knodler LA, Crowley SM, Sham HP, Yang H, Wrande M, Ma C, Ernst RK, Steele-Mortimer O, Celli J, Vallance BA. (2014) Noncanonical inflammasome activation of caspase-4/caspase-11 mediates epithelial defenses against enteric bacterial pathogens. Cell Host Microbe. 16(2):249-256. PMID: 25121752 PMCID: PMC4157630
  • Knodler LA, Vallance BA, Celli J, Winfree S, Hansen B, Montero M, Steele-Mortimer O. (2010) Dissemination of invasive Salmonella via bacterial-induced extrusion of mucosal epithelia. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 107(41):17733-8. PMID: 20876119 PMCID: PMC2955089


Washington State University