Asim Bej headshot.

Asim Kumar Bej

Professor
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Campbell Hall 251 (office); Campbell Hall 262 (lab)
(205) 934-9857

Research and Teaching Interests: Gut Microbiome, Microbial Pathogens, Extremophiles, Molecular Genetics and DNA Technology

Office Hours: By appointment

Education:

  • B.S., University of Calcutta, India
  • M.S., University of Calcutta, India
  • Ph.D., University of Louisville, Kentucky

Dr. Bej is a professor at the Department of Biology and also Co-Director of the UAB Genetics and Genomic Sciences Undergraduate Program (GGS) and an Affiliate Faculty of the Department of Criminal Justice. He studied microbial gene regulation, and development and applications of molecular methods of rapid-diagnosis of human pathogens in environmental and clinical samples at the University of Louisville. He has published numerous research papers, review articles and book chapters, and is the lead editor of a book encompassing his research areas.

Research Opportunities

I am accepting Master's and Ph.D. students (Microbiology, Bioinformatics) in my lab. If you are interested in joining my lab, please send me an email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) that outlines your research interests, as well as your curriculum vitae.

Dr. Bej teaches molecular genetics and DNA technology courses, supervises graduate and undergraduate research students, and provides professional services to academic and research organizations. He has established active research collaborations with colleagues within the U.S. and across the world. Dr. Bej is a recipient of the President’s as well as the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching at UAB, NASA Faculty Fellowship, Honorary Member of the Golden Key International Honor Society, and a member of the Tawani/NASA Exobiology Antarctic Scientific Research Expedition.

Download CV

Research Interests

(1) Extremophiles: Microorganisms thrive in all ecosystems including “extreme habitats” where they have adapted to cope with environmental parameters often considered inimical for others to maintain life functions. Given that in as much as over 70% of the earth maintains near or below freezing temperatures, the cold ecospheres constitute the largest “physical extreme” for microbial communities to exist, manifest adaptive attributes and drive key biological, geochemical and physical processes. Among all cold ecosystems, the ice-covered Antarctic continent offers the extreme cold, dry and windy conditions posing challenges to the inhabiting microorganisms. We are using the culture-based methodologies and culture-independent NextGen Sequencing Technology and Bioinformatics tools to study microbiota in various Antarctic ecosystems to understand the cellular and genetic mechanisms that support the functional communities, energy acquisition from ultraoligotrophic conditions and bioprospecting from their secondary metabolites. See some of the research publications that have resulted from this research: Koo et al., 2017a, 2017b; 2014; Huang et al., 2012; 2013; Mojib et al., 2011a; 2011b; 2013; 2010.

(2) Gut Microbiota: Collective microbial community or “microbiota,” particularly associated with human and animal gut systems has recently spurred significant interest in our understanding of their role in maintaining almost all aspects of host health. Such association is considered a product of coevolution that has been occurring for 500 million years, suggesting a mutual selection of certain key microbial members that persist in the gut environment. Additionally, certain microbial taxa have been observed as consistent, and often heightened, in the guts of host species regardless of geographical location, alluding to the existence of a “core” gut microbiota. We are using NextGen Sequencing Technology and Bioinformatics tools to study the composition of gut microbiota of model organisms and role in the nutrient cycling that benefit the host health as well as in maintaining the trophic structure of the inhabiting ecosystems. See some of the research publications that have resulted from this research: Hakim et al., 2015; Hakim et al., 2016; Koo et al., 2017.

(3) Microbial Pathogens: The infections by antibiotic resistant Vibrio and other foodborne pathogens have been increasing worldwide at an alarming rate. This trend is in-line with the rise of many other multidrug resistant strains of deadly human pathogens, and has become a concern to governments, healthcare professionals and industries. We are interested in two categories of research investigations: (a) rapid detection of antibiotic-resistant, pathgenic strains of vibrios and other foodborne pathogens using state-of-the-art molecular technologies; and (b) exploring compunds from natural sources (bioprospecting) that potentially manifest effective antimicrobial function against this and other pathogens. See some of the research publications from students in the lab related to this research: Mojib et al., 2010; Ward and Bej, 2006; Rizvi et al., 2006; Paniker and Bej, 2005;

Recent Courses

  • Molecular Genetics
  • Principles of DNA Technology

Graduate Students

  • Joseph Hakim (M.S., 2013-2015; Ph.D., 2015-present)
  • Hyunmin Koo (M.S., 2011-2013; Ph.D., 2013-present)

Download full list of graduate students

Select Publications