11-17-21 Fred Russell Kramer and Diana Vargas published a research article in Nature’s Scientific Reports. Their study shows that SuperSelective primer pairs enhance the sensitivity of multiplex PCR assays that identify and quantitate somatic mutations in liquid biopsies obtained from patients with cancer, thereby enabling the choice of a targeted therapy, the determination of its effectiveness over time, and the substitution of a more appropriate therapy as new mutations arise. To access the article, please visit: www.nature.com
10-08-21 LaTasha Fraser, Ryan Dikdan and Sanjay Tyagi have a new paper just published in PNAS. Here they explored the molecular origins of the enigmatic “noise” in gene expression. The paper shows that mammalian genes are not expressed in a steady and continuous manner, but are expressed in episodic bursts, because the regulatory regions of genes are normally hidden in impervious chromatin. Random breathing events in chromatin provide intermittent access to factors that turn the genes on and thereby render the gene expression intermittent. To access the paper, please visit: www.pnas.org
7-30-21 Rutgers is leading the fight against COVID-19 in the state of New Jersey with groundbreaking innovations in clinical, biomedical and social science research. The Center for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness (CCRP2) serves as a Rutgers-wide institutional hub for COVID-19 research and innovation. Learn more about the work we are doing to address both biomedical and societal challenges posed by COVID-19, as well as prepare against future pandemics by visiting the CCRP2 website at www.covid19research.rutgers.edu
7-30-20 A team of PHRI researchers led by Dr. Christopher Vinnard, published a collaborative research article titled “ Redox imbalance and oxidative DNA damage during isoniazid treatment of HIV-associated tuberculosis: A clinical and translational pharmacokinetic study” in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, section Translational Pharmacology. To view the online publication, please click here: www.journal.frontiersin.org
2-25-20 News 12 New Jersey (www.newjersey.news12.com) talks with Dr. David Alland for the latest on the coronavirus.
2-10-20 We are pleased to announce that Dr. David Alland has been named the new director of the Public Health Research Institute. In addition to his role as PHRI’s director, Dr. Alland is Professor of Medicine, Chief of the Division of Infectious Disease, and Director of the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory and the Center for Emerging and Re-Emerging Pathogens of New Jersey Medical School. The PHRI community wishes to thank Dr. Maria Gennaro for her outstanding role as Interim Director of PHRI.
2-6-20 PHRI researcher Dr. Selvakumar Subbian published a review article titled “Thalidomide and Phosphodiesterase 4 Inhibitors as Host Directed Therapeutics for Tuberculous Meningitis: Insights From the Rabbit Model” in Frontiers in Cell and Infection Microbiology. For details, visit: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
1-14-20 PHRI researcher Dr. Selvakumar Subbian published a conference article titled “Small Animal Models for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis B, and Tuberculosis: Proceedings of an NIAID Workshop” in Current HIV Research journal. (For details, visit: www.eurekaselect.com)
12-13-19 Dr. Chaoyang Xue’s laborattory published a research article titled “A mechanosensitive channel governs lipid flippase mediated echinocandin resistance in Cryptococcus neoformans.” in the ASM journal mBio, in which they uncovered a novel regulation of calcium homeostasis by lipid flippase function, providing a mechanism of lipid flippase mediated antifungal drug resistance. The paper is selected as the Editor’s pick of the issue, and can be accessed using the link: www.mbio.asm.org. In the same journal, Dr. Xue’s group, in collaboration with Dr. Amariliz Rivera lab at NJMS, published a second research article titled “A heat-killed Cryptococcus mutant strain induces host protection against multiple invasive mycoses in a murine vaccine model”. In this study, they analyzed a potential vaccine candidate against cryptococcosis and other invasive fungal infections in both immunocompetent and immunocompromised hosts. The paper can be accessed using the link: www.mbio.asm.org. For additional information on fungal vaccine development, please visit www.rutgers.edu for a recent interview by Drs. Xue and Rivera.
11-22-19 We congratulate Dr. Ranjeet Kumar, a post-doctoral researcher in Dr. Selvakumar Subbian lab, who received a Travel Award to present a research poster at the India-EMBO Symposium on Mycobacterial Heterogeneity and Host Tissue Tropism, which takes place from 11 to 15 February 2020 in New Delhi, India. For more details, visit: www.meetings.embo.org
11-21-19 Dr. Hee-Sook Kim published a research paper in bioRxiv entitled “A Trypanosoma brucei ORFeome-based Gain-of-Function Library reveals novel genes associated with melarsoprol resistance.” To access the article, visit www.biorxiv.org
11-19-19 Dr. Yina Wang in Dr. Chaoyang Xue’s laboratory presented a poster at the 5th Rutgers Lipid Research Symposium at the New Brunswick Campus on November 8th. Yina received the Best Poster award. Congratulations Yina for the great presentation! See the link for additional information about Rutgers Center for Lipid Research: www.rclr.rutgers.edu
11-14-19 PHRI Researchers Valentina Guerrini and Maria Gennaro published a review article in Trends in Immunology titled “Foam Cells: One Size Doesn’t Fit All”. For details, visit: https://www.sciencedirect.com
11-08-19 PHRI researcher Dr. Selvakumar Subbian published two collaborative research articles titled “Differential Culturability of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Culture-Negative Sputum of Patients with Pulmonary Tuberculosis and in a Simulated Model of Dormancy” in Frontiers in Microbiology journal. (For details, visit: www.frontiersin.org) and “Unmethylated CpG motif-containing genomic DNA fragment of Bacillus calmette-guerin promotes macrophage functions through TLR9-mediated activation of NF-κB and MAPKs signaling pathways. (For details, visit: www.journals.sagepub.com)
10-29-19 Dr. Jeanne Salje and her group of international collaborators published a research article in bioRxiv on their study for which they utilized dual RNA-seq to provide insight on Orientia tsutsugamushi, a bacterium that causes scrub typhus in humans. For details, please visit: www.biorxiv.org
10-15-19 PHRI researchers, Ranjeet Kumar, Pooja Singh, Afsal Kolloli, Lanbo Shi, Yuri Bushkin, Sanjay Tyagi and Selvakumar Subbian have published a review article on “Immunometabolism of Phagocytes During Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection” in the journal Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences. For details, visit: www.frontiersin.org
10-14-19 The New Jersey Lung Health Institute: Building a Lung Health Ecosystem in New Jersey
On October 4, 2019, Dr. Maria Laura Gennaro, presented her initiative for the creation of a New Jersey Lung Health Institute (NJLHI) at the Big Ideas Symposium, organized by Rutgers University. Dr. Gennaro’s vision of NJLHI is for health providers and scholars to work together with New Jersey communities to identify their lung health needs and to find causes and cures for their lung diseases. To read about the NJLHI and the impact it can have on communities in New Jersey, download Vision of NJLHI.pdf. For the Big Ideas, Rutgers will partner with donors and the community to secure private support for projects best poised to build a stronger Rutgers and transform society. To learn more about the Big Ideas and for an overview of the Symposium, please visit bigideas.rutgers.edu.
10-11-19 Blas Perez Peixoto presented a poster detailing PHRI’s Flow Cytometry and Microscopy Core facilities at the New Jersey Core Facility Showcase, an event held at Rutgers’ campus in New Brunswick, NJ, to highlight the research services that are provided by academic institutions from around New Jersey. For more details on the event, visit www.cpe.rutgers.edu/NJCFS/ . To download a PDF copy of the poster, select PHRI-FC&M-Core-Facilities.pdf
09-25-19 September 25, 2019, marked World Lung Day, an international day for lung health advocacy and action. Word Lung Day focusses on the five major lung diseases that impact health worldwide, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Asthma, Tuberculosis, Lung cancer, and Acute lower respiratory tract infections.
Detailed information on World Lung Day and the initiatives that are being taken at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School can be found at www.newise.com.
08-21-19 The 2019 issue of Annual Reviews of Genetics (Vol. 53) features a publication contributed by Dr. David Dubnau of PHRI and Dr. Melanie Blokesch of Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, entitled “Mechanisms of DNA Uptake by Naturally Competent Bacteria”. To read the abstract and to download a pdf copy of the publication, visit www.annualreviews.org.
08-07-19 Drs. Christopher Vinnard, Selvakumar Subbian, and Salvatore Marras were awarded a two-year National Institutes of Health R21 Grant to study heteroresistant during M. tuberculosis infection.
08-07-19 Dr. Marcela Rodriguez has been accepted into Atomwise’s Artificial Intelligence Molecular Screen (AIMS) Awards program. Dr. Rodriguez has identified a promising drug target in M. tuberculosis. Through the AIMS program, Artificial Intelligence will perform a virtual screen of more than 10 million compounds. She will then be provided with 72 small molecules predicted to bind her protein target, and will have support from Atomwise’s medicinal chemists and computational biologists.
06-28-19 PHRI’s director, Dr. Marila Gennaro, was invited to speak at this year’s annual national conference on tuberculosis, which was held in Suzhou, China. Her lecture was on innate and adaptive immune responses in tuberculosis. Dr. Gennaro also visited the Beijing Chest Hospital and the Beijing Children’s Hospital, where she met with their leadership, and where she presented about Rutgers, RBHS, I3D, and PHRI, which set the basis for collaborations on tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases among our institutions.
06-20-19 In a recent article in PNAS, PHRI researchers Salvatore Marras, Yuri Bushkin and Sanjay Tyagi describe a new method, amplified FISH, for increasing signals in single molecule FISH and for distinguishing RNAs that differ from each other by just one nucleotide. For details, see www.pnas.org.
06-14-19 Dr. Selvakumar Subbian was selected as the “Mentor of the Month” for May-2019 by the National Research Mentoring Network. For more information, visit www.nrmnet.net. In addition, his group received the award for Best Research Poster at the 17th Annual Department of Medicine Research Day of NJMS, Rutgers University, held on May 16th 2019. The title of the poster was “Aggregation state of Mycobacterium tuberculosis differentially regulates host immunity and augments pathogenicity in a rabbit model of pulmonary infection” and was authored by Drs. Afsal Kolloli, Pooja Singh, Alex Sigal and Selvakumar Subbian.
04-12-19 LaTasha Fraser, doctoral candidate in the laboratory of Sanjay Tyagi, successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation, “Exploring the Role of Chromatin Decondensation at a Gene Locus in Stochastic Gene Expression”.
04-05-19 Dr. Xilin Zhao’s group published a paper in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences USA that revealed a fundamental aspect of antibiotic action: the reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced by bacteria in response to severe stress is self-amplifying. Once a threshold is passed, the damage caused by ROS stimulates the production of more ROS; death is inevitable. The work also showed unequivocally that ROS arising from antimicrobial treatment causes death rather than being an incidental side-product. The conclusions emerged from the popular misconception that bacteria are thought to be dead at the time they are plated on agar to measure survival following antibiotic treatment: they can actually still be alive, dying on the drug-free agar plates due to self-amplifying ROS accumulation. This work should have a major impact on our understanding of how bacteria die in response to diverse types of lethal insult. The paper can be accessed at: https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/04/03/1901730116
03-22-19 Dr. Chris Vinnard was awarded a five-year, $4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a urine test that could enable clinicians to determine TB patients’ treatment drug levels via a desktop device as simple to use as a smartphone camera. For further details, please visit https://globalhealth.rutgers.edu
02-28-19 PHRI welcomes Dr. Hee-Sook Kim as a new faculty member and as an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at NJMS. Dr. Kim studies the parasitic protozoan Trypanosoma brucei and was formerly a research assistant professor at Cleveland State University.
02-21-19 Dr. Marila Gennaro received an award from the New Jersey Health Foundation, which will help study the mechanisms underlying envelope stress responses in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis. The aim of this study is to reveal the mechanistic links between metal homeostasis, envelope stress, and mycobacterial virulence, with the goal of developing small molecule inhibitors that block virulence-associated mycobacterial functions.
02-13-19 Dr. Chaoyang Xue received an award from the New Jersey Health Foundation, which will aid in studies to better understand the mechanism of lipid flippase-mediated antifungal drug resistance. The ultimate aim is to identify novel drug targets and to expand the use of existing drugs against currently resistant fungal infections.
01-14-19 Dr. Karl Drlica is co-editor of a new book on antibiotic resistance. Titled Antimicrobial Resistance in the 21st Century, the book provides a broad introduction to the subject by describing the biology of problematic pathogens and resistance, efforts to find new antibiotics, and issues associated with bringing new compounds to market. The 24 chapters, composed by internationally recognized leaders in the field, provide an update for physicians, act as a starting point for graduate students interested in solving the resistance problem, and collectively serve as a text for a course on antimicrobial resistance. For further details, visit www.springer.com.
11-02-18 Drs. Sanjay Tyagi and Arjun Raj were awarded a 2018 Thomas Alva Edison Award for Patents at the Council’s 39th Edison Patent Awards Ceremony on November 1. This award was for the development of single-molecule FISH probes (commercially known as Stellaris probes) that are useful for in situ imaging mRNAs with single-molecule sensitivity. Read more about the award ceremony at www.rdnj.org.
10-24-18 Dr. Theresa Chang was awarded a 2018 Cancer Research Grant from the Mary Kay Foundation. The grant will help her study on women with cervical cancer and the specific immune functions.
10.10.18 Dr. Abraham Pinter has been part of an ongoing study led by The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) to develop a fast diagnotic test to detect tuberculosis in people infected with HIV. For details, visit www.rutgers.edu.
08.30.18 EurekAlert posted a press release entitled “How damaging immune cells develop during tuberculosis” on a research article from Marila Gennaro’s group published in PLOS Pathogens. For details, visit www.eurekalert.org and www.journals.plos.org
07.11.18 PHRI is proud to announce that Drs. Jyothi Nagajyothi and Gloria Marcela Rodriguez were promoted to Associate Professors at New Jersey Medical School.
05.22.18 David Perlin’s group and Cidara Therapeutics were awarded a $5.5 million NIH grant to support the development of novel immunotherapy agents targeting multi-drug resistant Gram-negative bacterial infections. Visit www.businesswire.com to read the press release.
03.13.18 Drs. Liang Chen and Barry Kreiswirth participated in a study that shows the potential of an antibody approach to treat multidrug-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae. Visit www.niaid.nih.gov to read the NIH press release.
03.06.18 Drs. Marras, Kramer, Tyagi and Vargas-Gold were awarded US Patent 9,909,159 for their invention of a novel PCR method, utilizing so-called “SuperSelective Primers”, which is highly specific and sensitive and allows the detection and identification of rare mutant sequences in a background of abundant wild-type sequences, even if the difference between the sequences is a single nucleotide polymorphism.
01.26.18 Dr. David Perlin, executive director of PHRI, was among a select group of fellows elected into the American Academy of Microbiology. For details, please visit: www.asm.org.