Matsunami, Thiele, and Franks receive DIBS Incubator Award. Hiro Matsunami, PhD, Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Dennis Thiele, PhD, Professor in the Department of Medicine, and Kevin Franks, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurobiology received a Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS) Incubator Award for their application, “Smelling Sulfur in Wilson’s Disease: toward an early and non-invasive diagnosis for the copper metabolism disorder.” They will receive $100,000 for their research project. DIBS supports innovative interdisciplinary research.
Luftig, Steinbach, and Tomaras, named AAAS Fellows. Micah Luftig, PhD, Associate Professor, and secondary MGM faculty members, William Steinbach, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Georgia Tomaras, MD, Professor in Surgery were named Fellows of the American Associate for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The new fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold-and-blue rosette pin on Saturday, February 16 during the 2019 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. SOM Blog
Matsunami featured in Duke Today and EurekAlert! Hiro Matsunami, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology use animal stem cells to create an ‘e-nose’ for detecting explosives, drugs, and other compounds. To read the full article in EurekAlert, The Global Source for Science News, click here. To read the Duke Today article, click here. To read the full manuscript in Nature Communications, click here.
Bastidas research featured in Duke Today. Robert Bastidas, PhD, Assistant Research Professor in the laboratory of Raphael Valdivia, PhD, was featured in a Duke Today article titled, “Chlamydia attacks with Frankenstein Protein.” In partnership with Jonathan Pruneda, Assistant Professor at Oregon Health & Science University and several other researchers, Robert has shown that one Chlamydia protein, known as ChlaDUB1, is capable of manipulating human cells in two different ways, with one appearing to be essential for thriving inside the host. To read more, click here. To read the full manuscript, click here.
Brown and Gibbs received perfect scores on F31. Hannah Brown and Kyle Gibbs, two MGM graduate students received a perfect score of 10 on their most recent F31 submission. The title of Hannah’s project is, “Defining pH-Sensing in fungal virulence.” The research funded by this grant aims to explore how microbial organisms sense and respond to a change in environment in order to infect and cause disease. Specifically, I will study the human fungal pathogen, Cryptococcus neoformans and its ability to adapt to the more alkaline and warmer environment of the human lung as a way to understand this response. By better understanding how these pathogens manipulate themselves in order to better infect and coexist with the host, we aim to define new strategies to treat and clear microbial infections. The title of Kyle’s project is, “STAT3-dependent manipulation of host transcription and immune responses by Salmonella.” The research funded by this grant aims to determine both (1) how a novel Salmonella effector, SarA, drives the activation of the host transcription factor STAT3, and (2) how activation of STAT3, with accompanying host transcriptional changes, alters the host cell physiology to accelerate theintracellular replication of Salmonella, and thereby increase the virulence of sarA-containing Salmonella strains. Determining how SarA assembles a host signaling complex to phosphorylate STAT3 could provide a model for both other uncharacterized bacterial effectors and poorly characterized signaling by cytokine receptor intracellular domains. Understanding how, and to what end, SarA activates STAT3 during infection could open research into host-directed treatments for both infectious diseases and autoimmune disorders that are regulated by STAT3 signaling. Congratulations to both of them on this exciting news!
Dr. Matt Scaglione arrives at Duke on January 1, 2019. Matt Scaglione is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the Medical College of Wisconsin and will arrive at Duke January 1, 2019 in the Center for Neurodegeneration and Neurotherapeutics and the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology. From Al La Spada, the center director: “Matt’s postdoctoral work was done with Hank Paulson at the University of Michigan and focused on how proteins are selected for degradation by the chaperone-ubiquitin-proteasome system, with an emphasis on how this regulates the accumulation of pathological protein aggregates. Since starting his own lab in 2013, Matt has begun using the amoeba Dictyostelium discoidium as a model system to study an inherent mechanism of resistance to polyglutamine-driven protein aggregation. He has discovered a chaperone protein that uses an amyloid decoy domain to interact with polyQ-expanded proteins and target them for degradation by the proteosome. More recently, he has identified a chaperone protein that forms a biomolecular condensate via phase-phase separation can prevent protein aggregation in Dictyostelium. These are fascinating stories that have potential clinical implications for neurodegenerative diseases. Matt is using a variety of genetic and biochemical approaches and is extending his studies to mice and human cells.”
Jen-Tsan “Ashley” Chi, MD, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and lab recently published new findings on unmasking blood doping in athletes. Read more about the findings in the Duke Today news release. Read the published research here.
Professor Samuel Miller from University of Washington gave a talk entitled “Are Pathogenic Bacteria Just Looking for Food” for the Thursday Seminar Series on October 11. Dr. Miller served as the post-doctoral mentor for MGM faculty member Dennis Ko from 2006-2012. In appreciation for Dr. Miller encouraging mentees to take on high-risk, high-reward projects while providing the mentorship and support to succeed, Dennis presented him with a piece of the Apollo 11 command module foil, which served to protect astronauts during the moon mission.
Sam is Professor of Medicine, Microbiology, Immunology and Genome Sciences at the University of Washington. He has made groundbreaking discoveries including sensing of pH and antimicrobial peptides by PhoP/Q, immune evasion through modification of LPS, antibiotic induction of biofilms, structure-function of the TTSS and associated effectors, evolution of Pseudomoas in the CF lung, mechanisms and visualization of c-di-GMP signaling dynamics, role of the microbiome in CF and Crohn’s disease, and novel systems to study host-pathogen interactions. These systems included expression of Salmonella effectors in yeast developed by his postdoc Cammie Lesser who was here last week, and cellular GWAS with the Hi-HOST approach that Dennis developed while in his lab. Most recently Sam has turned his attention to characterization of genes of unknown function in Acinetobacter.
Sam has authored over 200 publications and has been recognized with numerous honors including the Squibb Award from the Infectious Diseases Society of America, fellowship in the American Academy of Microbiology, the American Society of Clinical Investigation, and the American Association of Physicians.
Heitman and Heaton received 2019 awards from ASM Joseph Heitman, M.D., Ph.D., Chair and James B. Duke Professor and Nicholas Heaton, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology have received 2019 awards from the American Society for Microbiology. Dr. Heitman received the ASM 2019 Award for Basic Research which recognizes an outstanding scientist whose discoveries have been fundamental in advancing our understanding of the microbial world. Dr. Heaton received the ASM 2019 Award for Early Career Basic Research which recognizes an early career investigator with distinguished basic research achievements in the microbial sciences. Click here for the School of Medicine Blog post. Click here for the ASM 2019 Award Winners Announcement.
Dr. John Rawls and collaborator Dr. Steven Farber from the Carnegie Institution were recently awarded a Pew Innovation Fund grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts. Their project uses zebrafish to investigate how dietary nutrients and microbes alter the body’s ability to sense glucose in the gut. The Pew Innovation Fund supports innovative interdisciplinary collaborations between former Pew Scholars and Fellows. Click here for more information.
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