ramos barnumScott Barnum, Ph.D., and postdoctoral fellow Theresa Ramos, Ph.D., have partnered with Kypha Inc., a St. Louis-based company focused on complement proteins and lateral flow assays, to develop a diagnostic test to rapidly and inexpensively discriminate between bacterial and viral meningitis. This kind of test would be a valuable tool for the emergency room physician, according to Barnum.

Read more:
“UAB, industry partnership could lead to first rapid test for bacterial meningitis,” by Nicole Wyatt. UAB School of Medicine News, January 21, 2015.

"This simple meningitis test could save money and lives—and open a new window on inflammation," by Matt Windsor. The Mix, January 23, 2015.

Ramos and Barnum 2014Theresa Ramos, Ph.D., (left) and her mentor, Scott Barnum, Ph.D. (right) have partnered with a start-up biotech company, Kypha Inc., on the development of a rapid diagnostic device for meningitis and other conditions. Ramos is UAB’s first “corporate postdoctoral fellow” and holds the title of Postdoctoral Entrepreneur at Kypha. She also manages Kypha’s beta testing site at UAB, encompassing other potential projects with UAB’s Institute Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

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World AIDS DayMore than 130 investigators, students and staff interested in HIV, global health and infectious diseases research gathered at UAB on December 11, 2014, to celebrate World AIDS Day. CFAR Director Michael Saag presented the State of the CFAR, and a Research Poster Competition rounded out the event. Four of the five of the monetary awards for project funding went to teams directed by microbiology department faculty.

FIRST PLACE ($4000 funding + $250 prize)
A novel approach to generate HIV-1 broadly neutralizing antibodies
Team: Jan Novak, Zina Moldoveanu, Hui Hu, Matthew Renfro, Jialan Geng, Hairong Wei, Bi Shi, Qing Wei, Milan Raska, Audra Laube, Bara Knoppova

SECOND PLACE ($2000 funding + $125 prize)
Novel copper-coordinating small molecule inhibitors against methicillin resistant stphylococcus aureus
Team: Suzanne Michalek, Olaf Kutsch, Frank Wolschendorf, Santosh Shah, Alex Dalecki, Kaitlyn Schaaf

PEOPLE'S CHOICE ($1000 funding + $75 prize)
Engineer the CRISPR/Cas9 system to clear pathogenic DNA virus infections in AIDS patients
Team: George Luo, Mengxi Jiang, Joshua Justice

*SPECIAL GLOBAL HEALTH AWARD ($4000 funding + $250 prize)
Isolation of human antibodies for the treatment of fungal infections
Team: John Kearney, Rodney Glenn King, Emily Stefanov

Justement 2013In a November 18, 2014, article in GEN (Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News), Susanna F. Greer, Ph.D., says microbiology professor Louis Justement, Ph.D., changed her life.

As an undergraduate chemistry major in the 1990s, Greer spent a summer doing biomedical research in Justement’s lab at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. This initial encounter led Greer to choose a career in research. She is currently associate professor of biology at Georgia State University, specializing in transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of immune response and cancer immunology.

Justement, who chairs the Training and Career Opportunities Subcommittee of the Federation for American Societies for Experimental Biology, continues to change the lives of students here at UAB.

Read Susanna Greer’s thoughts about mentoring in “Making Mentoring Meaningful.”
Working Together KlugThe UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive facility, is known as a leader in bringing scientific discoveries from laboratories to patients. It is home to more than 350 scientists and physician-scientists—many who are in the UAB Department of Microbiology. These scientists are focusing their research on the basic mechanisms of cancer pathogenesis.

An October 2014 US Airways article, “UAB: A Center for Healing,” features the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center and is illustrated with a photograph of UAB Microbiology Department professor Christopher Klug, Ph.D.
Fran Lund-14The lab of Frances Lund, Ph.D., chair of the UAB Department of Microbiology, is looking at a cell-fate step in B cells after they have proliferated. She wants to understand the switch from rapid cell division to a cell that starts to manufacture antibody molecules. The cytokine interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) has been implicated in that cell-fate decision, which leads to a fork in the road — most of the B cells make a lot of antibody and then die, but others become long-lived antibody-secreting cells that can produce protective antibodies for decades.

ZajacThe lab of Allan Zajac, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology at UAB, is looking at CD8 T cells, which can develop into the classic “killer” T cells that can destroy virus-infected cells. A cell-surface adhesion molecule called ICAM seems to direct the type of T cell produced after cell-to-cell interactions — some of the CD8 T cells become killer T cells, and others become long-lived memory T cells. Zajac believes that ICAM limits the amount of IL-2 experienced by some clustered T cells, and this helps produce memory cells rather than killer cells. Zajac has two versions of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus that differ by only two nucleotides — one causes an acute infection in mice that is quelled in 10 days, while the other, faster-replicating virus gets out of control and exhausts the immune system, and the mice take months to recover.

Click here for the rest of the story -- “$10 million UAB grant is probing control of viral infections