BioPACIFIC MIP Research: SET 1 - Bioderived Materials
What is your research focus?
My research in Professor Irene Chen’s lab focuses on developing novel biomaterials to combat antibiotic resistance (AR). Viruses capable of infecting bacteria, called bacteriophages or “phages”, can serve as a platform to deliver antibacterial agents to microbes. First, phages can be genetically modified to target bacteria outside of their host range. Next, antibacterial polymers or nanoparticles can be attached to the exterior proteins, thus allowing targeted delivery of antimicrobials. This approach overcomes two main shortcomings of traditional phage therapy, as some of the most-well studied phages are non-lytic and infection does not result in bacterial death, while other lytic phages are limited by their host range.
Additionally, I collaborated with Dr. Pedro Salas from Professor Heather Maynard’s group to determine the antimicrobial activity of polymers against E. coli and S. aureus, including strains with AR; this work, funded by BioPACIFIC MIP, was recently published in ACS Bio & Med Chem Au. My continued involvement in SET 1 (Bioderived Materials) will allow future collaborations, where the specificity of antimicrobial compounds discovered and synthesized by other scientists can be enhanced by conjugating them to my genetically modified phages.
What excites you about NSF BioPACIFIC MIP?
My participation as a BioPACIFIC MIP Affiliate in the past year has been incredibly rewarding. The opportunities for networking with fellow researchers resulted in a successful collaboration for my group. Participating in the Speed Pitch and Graphical Abstract competitions improved my communication skills. Attending BioPACIFIC MIP Summer School provided me with the training necessary to use the new X-ray beamline at UCSB and characterize the size of my materials. This year, I hope to further my personal and professional development through continued involvement as a BioPACIFIC MIP Fellow. I am looking forward to the Whole PhD Series, future networking events, and other opportunities to prepare myself for achieving my post-graduate career goals.