PHRI News and Events Archive

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

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

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  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:

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

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

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

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

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 and

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 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 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: