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
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.”
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.
The 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”
by Peter Burrows, Ph.D.
October 17-19, 2014, microbiology department faculty, and special guests gathered at Alabama’s beautiful Joe Wheeler State Park for the annual microbiology department retreat. This has always been one of our favorite retreat venues because of its convenient (about 2 hours from Birmingham) and beautiful location near Rogersville, Alabama, on Wheeler Lake, a 60 mile long body of water created by Wheeler Dam along the Tennessee River. This year’s retreat was a wonderful opportunity for students, faculty and postdocs to focus on science and to establish new collaborations away from the distractions of everyday life. The weather this year could not have been better. An added treat was the unveiling of the new microbiology department T-shirt during the retreat registration. Images on the shirt were provided by microbiology graduate student Shane Kelly (Bedwell lab) and depicted squamous epithelial cells isolated from the buccal mucosa of the cheek. Shane’s artwork was awarded Judge’s Choice in the 2014 UAB School of Medicine Art Show.
The retreat began on Friday afternoon with scientific talks by students and postdocs. Roughly organized into themes, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, gene expression, host defense and immunity, and virology, the talks were varied and interesting and were followed by lively question and answer sessions. Friday evening was reserved for a poster session with 26 trainees presenting their research. Student and postdoc presentations continued on Saturday morning. Faculty judges of the oral and poster presentations uniformly agreed that this was a very difficult assignment due to the overall high quality of both talks and posters.
Before breaking for lunch on Saturday, the department’s own Dr. Peter Prevelige swapped his structural virology hat for that of photographer extraordinaire and took the retreat group photo. After lunch, faculty and trainees joined in a roundtable discussion about advanced courses in the department of microbiology. Many positive suggestions for possible courses, including an advanced virology course and a new course on the microbiome, came from the discussion.
The highlight of the retreat was the Saturday evening talk by keynote speaker Dr. William R. Jacobs, Jr. from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, located in the Bronx borough of New York City. Bill is an alumnus of the UAB Department of Microbiology, having received his Ph.D. in molecular cell biology in 1985. He studied Mycobacterium leprae, the causative agent of leprosy, while in the laboratories of Drs. Roy Curtiss III and Josephine Clark-Curtiss. After receiving his Ph.D., he accepted a postdoctoral position in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine with Dr. Barry Bloom, studying Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Bill established his own laboratory at Einstein in 1987. His contributions to this field have been enormous and well recognized. He has been a Howard Hughes Investigator since 1990, and in 2013 he was elected to the US National Academy of Science. In his talk at the retreat, Bill delighted the audience with highlights of his scientific discoveries, including the “Bronx bomber,” a highly virulent bacteriophage, lytic for certain mycobacteria, which he isolated from soil in his backyard in the Bronx and which has been instrumental for genetic analysis of these organisms. His talk was insightful, entertaining and even had an audience participation component. It was in the true sense of an overused word, awesome.
The retreat concluded on Sunday morning with three interesting talks by departmental faculty members, Drs. Dave Bedwell, Hui Hu (a new recruit to the department) and Jan Novak. This was followed by the awards ceremony with closing remarks by department chair, Dr. Fran Lund, during which she announced that our department had received the UAB Dean’s Award for Excellence.
|2014 RESEARCH RETREAT AWARD RECIPIENTS
1st - Kathryn Doornbos
2nd - Lindsey Padgett
1st - Shannon Ramano
2nd - Alex Dalecki
1st - Shannon Kahan
2nd - Jianlin Geng
1st - Yuan Tian
1st - Xiaojiao Xue
2nd - Gwendolyn Gunn
1st - Brady Spencer
2nd - Katherine Taylor
1st - Avi Mitra
2nd - Kanupriya Gupta