Medical Microbiology and Immunology

CURRENT NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

University of Toledo COVID-19 Updates


Congratulations to the 2022 Robert T. Tidrick Golden Apple Award Winner for Teaching Excellence in Basic Sciences,

Dr. Ferreira
Viviana Ferreira, D.V.M., Ph.D.

The Robert T. Tidrick Golden Apple Awards for teaching excellence are named in honor of Dr. Tidrick, a surgeon and outstanding educator on the faculty of the former Medical College of Ohio from 1969 until his death in June 1983, at the age of 73. Faculty, both basic scientists and clinicians, are selected for the honor each year by members of the graduating class of medical students.  This is Dr. Ferreira's second year winning this award.

Click Here to Learn More


Irum Syed, Ph.D.
Irum Syed

April 28, 2022

Congratulations!
Irum Syed successfully defended her dissertation titled: "Identification and Characterization of a Burkholderia pseudomallei Factor H-Binding Protein".
Advisor: R. Mark Wooten, Ph.D.
Future Plans:  Irum will continue her work on Burkholderia pseudomallei in the Wooten lab.
Email: irum.syed@rockets.utoledo.edu

Sara Moore, Ph.D.
Sara Moore

April 19, 2022

Congratulations!
Sara Moore successfully defended her dissertation titled: "Implications for Properdin, a Complement Regulatory Protein, in Rheumatoid Arthritis".
Advisor: Viviana Ferreira, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Future Plans: Sara will return to medical school to complete her M.D. degree by May 2024.

 

Email: sara.moore@rockets.utoledo.edu


MMI Faculty Recognized for Tenure & Promotion
Congratulations to members of our faculty who were recently approved for tenure and/or promotion by The University of Toledo Board of Trustees at its April meeting!
The MMI faculty member who received tenure and promotion to Associate Professor
is

Dr. Chattopadhyay
Dr. Saurabh Chattopadhyay

The MMI faculty member who received promotion to Professor is

Dr. Huntley
Dr. Jason Huntley

CONGRATULATIONS!

Click Here for More Information


University of Toledo 2022 Graduate Research Awardees announced

Congratulations to the two MMI awardees: Iluja Gautam and Sukanya Chakravarty!
Iluja 

Iluja Gautam — doctoral dissertation, medical microbiology and immunology in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences.
Mentor: Dr. Randall Worth.
Award amount: $1,970. Project: "Role of Platelets in Host Defense Against Respiratory Paramyxovrius infection"

Sukanya
Sukanya Chakravarty — doctoral dissertation, medical microbiology and immunology in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences.
Mentor: Dr. Saurabh Chattopadhyay.
Award amount: $2,185. Project: "Understanding the Novel Anti-Inflammatory Role of IRF3 in Respiratory Virus Infections and Pathogenesis"

Click Here to Learn More

The Graduate Research Awardees were recently recognized at the April 2022 Graduate Council Meeting:
Sukanya
Iluja

Post Doc publishes research in journal Frontiers in Immunology
Dulat
Dulat Bekbolsynov, Ph.D., UToledo alumni and PostDoc in the Stepkowski Lab in the Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology, recently published an article, "Improving Access to HLA-Matched Kidney Transplants for African American Patients" with fellow researchers in high impact journal Frontiers in Immunology.

"Kidney transplants fail more often in Black than in non-Black (White, non-Black Hispanic, and Asian) recipients. We used the estimated physicochemical immunogenicity for polymorphic amino acids of donor/recipient HLAs to select weakly immunogenic kidney transplants for Black vs. White or non-Black patients.  Conclusion showed that race-adjusted HMS (EMS, AMS)-based allocation increased the number of weakly immunogenic donors for Black patients, while still providing excellent options for non-Black recipients."
Click Here to Read the Article

Dr. Bekbolsynov and the Stepkowski lab were also coresearchers on an article published in Artificial Intelligence in Medicine, titled, "Predicting Kidney Transplant Survival using Multiple Feature Representations for HLAs".
Click Here to Read the Article

2022 Graduate Research Forum Winners and Finalists Announced

Graduate Research Forum

The Council of Biomedical Graduate Students (CBGS) and the College of Pharmacy presented the Graduate Research Forum on March 16 and March 17, 2022. Congratulations to all of the finalists and winners:

Finalist & Winners Poster Session
1st place: Kelly Morgan (Wooten lab; MMI)
2nd place: Joshua Breidenbach (Kennedy/Haller lab; MMI/Medicine)
3rd place: Ryan Harris (Taylor lab; MMI)
Farzaneh Naghavi (Giovannucci lab; Neurosciences)
Nicole Bell (Giovannucci lab; Neurosciences)

Winners Oral Session
1st place: Veani Roshale Fernando (Furuta lab; Cancer Biology)
2nd place: Sayani Bhattacharjee (Nadiminti lab; Cancer Biology)
3rd place: Shumin Fan (Chattopadhyay lab; MMI)

Click Here for More Information & the Abstract Booklet


Student publishes research in high impact journal Immuno
Karan Article
Karan Chawla, medical student and research assistant in the Chattopadhyay Lab in the Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology, recently published an article, "Autophagy in Virus Infection: A Race between Host Immune Response and Viral Antagonism," with fellow researchers in high impact journal Immuno.

"Virus-infected cells trigger a robust innate immune response and facilitate virus replication," the authors wrote in the abstract. "Here, we review the role of autophagy in virus infection, focusing on both pro-viral and anti-viral host responses using a select group of viruses."
Other authors on the article include: Dr. Gayatri Subramanian, Tia Rahman, Shumin Fan, Sukanya Chakravarty, Shreyas Gujja, Hayley Demchak, Dr. Ritu Chakravarti and Dr. Saurabh Chattopadhyay.

Click Here to Read the Article


MMI Cholera Researcher Makes Surprising Discovery Close to Home

While not the same strains that cause disease, Dr. Jyl Matson's surprising discovery of Vibrio cholerae in the Maumee River and Lake Erie raises intriguing questions.

  
Click Here to Read the UToledo article


MMI Researcher awarded $800,000 grant from National Science Foundation
Dr. Matson

Congratulations to Dr. Jyl Matson, associate professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, who was recently awarded an $800,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.  

The title of her proposal is "Stress response mechanisms in Vibrio." Previous studies in Dr. Matson’s lab identified a new stress response pathway in Vibrio cholerae, the causative agent of epidemic cholera. This pathway is also broadly conserved in other bacterial species.  The overall goal of this project is to characterize this pathway in V. cholerae, with an emphasis on understanding how the pathway helps this pathogen and other bacteria survive in the presence of stressors encountered in the environment and human host. In addition, other stress response mechanisms in environmental Vibrio species will be studied as a part of an outreach program involving local high schools.

Dr. Robert Blumenthal, professor, also in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, is a co-investigator on this proposal.


 The University of Toledo Medical Research Society recently approved funding for two researchers' projects within the College of Medicine and Life Sciences

UTMRS

The Medical Research Society was created in 2014 by a group of community donors to support biomedical research at Toledo. Seed funding from the society has helped provide early data to leverage major grants from nonprofits and federal funding agencies. NIH Funding is up 14% over the past five years and it has been estimated that every $1 of NIH funding generates about $2.21 in local economic growth.

Ferreira
Dr. Viviana P. Ferreira, associate professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, was approved for the project titled: "Understanding how the immune system contributes to inflammatory diseases."  She received a $50,000 grant from the society.

The seed funding from the Medical Research Society will help to study novel aspects of regulation of the complement system. The research topic centers on understanding how an essential positive regulator of the complement system, properdin (P), is involved in the pathogenesis of complement-mediated inflammatory diseases. Properdin's job is to make the immune system's inflammatory processes efficient; however, sometimes properdin's activity is so effective that it can lead to excessive inflammation. Inflammation is a process that is necessary but can be dangerous when excessive.

"We aim to know if properdin does its' job differently during disease, as compared to within a healthy body," Dr. Ferreira shared with us. "This novel question will be addressed using an innovative assay, designed in my laboratory, that measures P function in biological samples, in proportion to the types of P oligomers present in the sample, and determine associations between P concentration and function, complement markers, and clinical parameters in rheumatoid and osteoarthritis."

"I am honored and very grateful that the Medical Research Society has entrusted me with this donation to advance research in how complement contributes to inflammation," she said. "It is an invaluable contribution to my laboratory and graduate students and will help to advance the project to a level where NIH funding can be secured."

CONGRATULATIONS!


Congratulations to the 2021 MMI Graduate Student Research Scholar Awardees (MMIRSA)
Sukanya ChakravartyJosh BreidenbachShumin FanApurva Lad
          Sukanya Chakravarty, Joshua Breidenbach, Shumin Fan, and Apurva Lad

The Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology has announced this year's awardees for
the MMI Graduate Student Research Scholar Award (MMIRSA):

Sukanya Chakravarty (PhD student in the lab of Dr. Saurabh Chattopadhyay)
Joshua Breidenbach (PhD student in the lab of Drs. Kennedy and Haller)
Shumin Fan (MD/PhD student in the lab of Dr. Saurabh Chattopadhyay)
Apurva Lad (Graduated PhD student in the lab of Drs. Kennedy and Haller)

Congratulations to the awardees and their PIs on this achievement!

The MMIRSA award serves to encourage and increase MMI graduate student publications and pre-doctoral fellowship submissions.   More information on the award can be found at this link.


 Awardee announced for MMI Earl H. Freimer Award for Outstanding MD-PhD Student in Medical Microbiology & Immunology

Sara and Dr. Ferreira
Sara Moore (MD-PhD candidate) and Viviana Ferreira, D.V.M., Ph.D.

The Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology has announced the 2022 recipient of the Earl H. Freimer, MD, PhD, Award for Outstanding MD-PhD Student in Medical Microbiology and Immunology: Sara Moore!

The Earl H. Freimer award is issued from an endowed fund established in the name of Earl H. Freimer, founding chair of the MMI Department, and founding Division Director of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine. The award recognizes Dr. Freimer's commitment to the intersection of medicine with research in immunology and infectious agents.

This year's awardee, Sara Moore, is in the lab of Viviana Ferreira, D.V.M., Ph.D. Sara is (to date) first author on a Frontiers in Immunology paper titled "Hijacking Factor H for Complement Immune Evasion", and middle author on a paper in American Journal of Respiratory & Critical Care Medicine titled "Increased Alternative Complement Pathway Function and Improved Survival During Critical Illness". She has also received several awards including a 2020 Joint Biology Consortium Arthritis microgrant, a 2020 UT Health Science Campus Retirees Scholarship Endowment Scholarship, a 2021 UT Graduate Student Research Award, and an oral presentation award from the International Complement Society at the 2021 International Complement Workshop.

The award comes with a monetary prize, from a fund generously endowed by Dr. Freimer's family after his death. More information on the award can be found at this link.

Congratulations to Sara and her dissertation advisor!

MMI faculty member selected as Treasurer and Officer on the ICS Board
Dr. Ferreira
Dr. Viviana Ferreira
has just completed her term as a Councilor on the International Complement Society (ICS) Board and was now elected to serve as Treasurer and Officer on the ICS Board. The incoming President for the ICS, Dr. Claudia Kemper, NIH, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, indicated in her Welcome Address "I am delighted that my tenure coincides with the term of Viviana Ferreira as newly elected treasurer. Viviana and I have worked together on several occasions for the ICS mission, and she has been instrumental in increasing the visibility of complement research among the broader immunology community via her engagement with the American Association of Immunologists."

Click Here to See More

Researchers receive recognitions at the 28th International Complement Workshop
Complement Workshop
Left side: Sara Moore, M.D./Ph.D. candidate
Center top: Dr. Trent Woodruff, University of Queensland, Australia.
Center bottom: Dr. Viviana Ferreira
Right top: Dr. Claudia Vilhena, moderator
Right bottom: Dr. Anna Blom, Lund University, Sweden

 

Members of Dr. Viviana Ferreira's laboratory in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology attended the 28th International Complement Workshop held virtually this past December.
Sara Moore, M.D./Ph.D. candidate, was selected to give an oral presentation entitled "Implications for properdin, a complement regulatory protein, in disease" for which she received one of the competitive oral presentation awards.
Dr. Ferreira, D.V.M., Ph.D., Associate Professor, was invited to give a lecture entitled "Regulation of the Complement System" as part of the meeting's teaching day, alongside other international complement experts.

The Blade: Not Just Your Liver: Algal Toxins Might Impact Your Ability to Reproduce, Too
Jason Huntley

David Kennedy and Jason Huntley, associate professors in the UToledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences, comment on a new study connecting exposure to microcystin in harmful algal blooms to reproductive problems.

 Click Here to Read the Article


MMI faculty member’s research appears on cover of Nucleic Acids Research journal
Blumenthal
Articles

Dr. Bob Blumenthal, Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology and Director of the Program in Bioinformatics, has the cover article in a recent issue of the high-impact journal Nucleic Acids Research (5y impact = 11.8).
The article reports that an enzyme (MettL3-14) long known to add methyl groups to RNA in human cells also methylates DNA, but only if the DNA is damaged, and this may play a role in DNA repair.

The article is titled "Human MettL3-MettL14 RNA adenine methyltransferase complex is active on double-stranded DNA containing lesions."

It is his fifth cover article for that journal, all of them with his long-time collaborator, x-ray crystallographer Dr. Xiaodong Cheng (currently at M.D. Anderson in Houston).

Click Here to Read the Article

 

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Last Updated: 5/18/22