Tobin receives 2017-2018 Thomas Langford Lectureship Award – David Tobin, PhD, Associate Professor of MGM presented a lecture about his research at the annual Langford Lectureship series on October 23, 2017. This luncheon series was designed to provide Duke’s faculty with an opportunity to hear about ongoing scholarly activities of recently promoted or hired colleagues. Congratulations, David! See pictures here.

Headshot of Emily DerbyshireCongratulations to Dr. Emily Derbyshire for receiving the New Innovator Award. The NIH Director’s New Innovator award supports exceptionally creative early career investigators who propose innovative, high-impact projects. The Derbyshire lab has utilized novel strategies to identify host liver factors that are involved in Plasmodium infection. Through these studies, they found that the parasite’s liver stages have vulnerabilities that are distinct from their blood-infective forms. To better understand liver stage vulnerabilities, they propose to dissect the underlying mechanisms of host factor involvement in parasitic survival using an integrative multidisciplinary approach. Their work will advance the current understanding of host-parasite interactions during malaria’s elusive liver stage and will provide starting points for host-based antimalarial therapies to surmount the challenge of parasite drug resistance.  For the Duke Today article, click here.

Congratulations to Dr. Bill Steinbach who received the 2017 ID Oswald Avery Award. The Oswald Avery Award recognizes outstanding achievement in infectious diseases by a member or fellow of IDSA who is 45 or younger. See the full article here.  See the Duke Pediatrics article here.


In a study published September 26 in eLife, Duke researchers from the Heitman Lab show that lineages of the fungal pathogen Cryptococcus deuterogattii house a specific mutation in their DNA that increases their mutation rate. These ‘hypermutators,’ as they are called, rapidly develop resistance to the antifungal drugs FK506 and rapamycin. See the full article here.


Michael N. Hall Michael Hall receiving the Lasker Award.was awarded the 2017 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for discoveries in relation to Nutrient-activated TOR proteins that regulate cell growth.

Michael N. Hall of the Biocenter at the University of Basel discovered the nutrient-activated TOR proteins and their central role in the metabolic control of cell growth.  By showing that the TOR system adjusts cell size in response to the availability of raw materials, Michael N. Hall revealed an unanticipated linchpin of normal cell physiology. More…

Dr. Dennis KoHead Shot of Dennis Ko, PhD has been awarded the 2018 Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award. This award, sponsored by the American Society of Microbiology and Merck, recognizes and awards excellence in basic research in medical microbiology and infectious diseases. The award is presented in memory of Irving S. Sigal, who was instrumental in the early discovery of therapies to treat HIV/AIDS.

Head shot of Christine Vazquez PhD student, Christine Vazquez, was just awarded a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Graduate Diversity Enrichment Program (BWF GDEP) grant. This program provides $5,000 in funds over a two-year period to enhance the graduate student experience. The grant supports conference and workshop attendance and presentations, short course enrollment and purchase of materials and supplies related to enrichment. Congratulations, Christine!

Duke ScHeadshot of John Rawls, PhDientists Map Genomic Atlas of Your Inner Fish Gut – “Our research has uncovered aspects of intestinal biology that have been well-conserved during vertebrate evolution, suggesting they are of central importance to intestinal health,” said John F. Rawls, Ph.D., senior author of the study and associate professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University School of Medicine. “By doing so, we have built a foundation for mechanistic studies of intestinal biology in non-human model systems like fish and mice that would be impossible to perform in humans alone.” See full article here.

Headshot of Monica AlvarezResearch from the Ko lab by MGM student Monica Alvarez and colleagues has discovered a human genetic difference that protects against Salmonella invasion into host cells and risk of typhoid fever. Alvarez determined that the underlying mechanism involved regulation of levels of cellular cholesterol, which Salmonella binds during invasion. These genetic clues led to experiments with the Tobin lab demonstrating that the cholesterol-lowering drug ezetimibe (Zetia) was protective against Salmonella infection in zebrafish. The research was published in PNAS and was featured in Duke today.

Headshot of Nicholas Heaton, PhDDr. Nick Heaton interview – New Vaccine Production Could Improve Flu Shot Accuracy. Duke researchers have devised a way to keep the human influenza virus from mutating during production, generating a perfect match to the target vaccine in a shorter time frame. Their findings appear in the journal mBio. “We have solved a fundamental problem that scientists had accepted would be part of vaccine production — that the virus is always going to mutate if it is grown in eggs,” said senior study author Nicholas S. Heaton, Ph.D., assistant professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University School of Medicine. “This research could lead to a significantly cheaper and more efficacious vaccine. See full article here.

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