Second-year Pathology graduate student Madison Doolittle won second place in the School of Medicine and Dentistry’s graduate student poster competition on May 17.
The annual event, hosted by the Graduate Student Society, includes entries from graduate students across disciplines as an opportunity to showcase their research in their respective fields.
Madison was the lead author the abstract titled, “Investigating the Role of Zbtb40 in the Genetic Regulation of Osteoporosis” in which he and fellow researchers examined the genetic determinants of bone mineral density used to diagnose osteoporosis.
He was awarded a $300 travel scholarship.
Karen de Mesy Bentley (formerly Jensen), M.S., director of the Electron Microscopy Shared Resource Laboratory and faculty associate in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, has discovered something new about the behavior of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and why it may resist antibiotic treatment and recur in patients who have had a hip or joint implant.
Bentley is the lead author in an NIH funded study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research (May 2017) where she utilized transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to examine the bones of mice with implant associated S. aureus chronic osteomyelitis.
While examining sections of bone under TEM high magnification, Bentley discovered that some bacteria were able to change shape and squeeze into submicron spaces which are called canaliculi. Her study describes round bacteria becoming rod-shaped to accommodate the submicron diameter space of canaliculi. The bacteria are then protected from treatment with traditional antibiotics delivered via blood vessels.
“When I saw this, I was shocked,” said Bentley. “Staph has never been described as being able to deform. It’s always been described as round, one micron in diameter to grow in clusters like grapes on a vine.”
Soon after documenting this bizarre shape shifting behavior in a mouse model, Bentley initiated studies on human S. aureus infected bone specimens and in December of 2016, discovered the same bacterial phenomenon occurs in human bone.
The initial findings explain, among other things, why a staph infection in humans may return despite weeks or months of antibiotic treatments and bone debridement when replacing an infected implant. It also explains why infections can recur, sometime years – even decades – later, after going undetected in the patient.
Bentley will soon be a co-investigator in a P50 NIH-funded grant working with the principal investigator, Edward Schwarz, Ph.D., the director of the Center for Musculoskeletal Research and his team to continue studies on human S. aureus chronic osteomyelitis specimens.
“If we can identify a gene that allows S. aureus to shift into rod shaped bacteria, then maybe we can develop a drug to prevent invasion of osteocyte canaliculi and also recurrence,” she said.
Congratulations to Sarah Catheline for winning the People’s Choice Award at the University of Rochester’s Three Minute Thesis public competition held on May 11 at URMC.
Sarah is a fourth-year graduate student in the Pathways of Human Disease Ph.D. program and works in the lab of Dr. Jennifer Jonason. Her presentation, “Inhibiting Inflammaging to Treat Osteoarthritis (OA),” was one of eight to be accepted into the final round.
This year marks the second annual Three Minute Thesis public competition at the University of Rochester, which encourages participants to share their research in simple language that's both persuasive and easy for the average person to understand.
The event is open to current Ph.D. and professional doctorate (research) candidates in or beyond their third year of study. It’s also open to postdoctoral researchers. Winners receive travel awards ranging from $250-750.
The event is sponsored by the School of Medicine and Dentistry Center for Professional Development, the School of Arts, Science and Engineering Graduate Studies Office, the Graduate Student Society, and Graduate Student Association.
Three Minute Thesis Awards:
- Judge’s Winner: Thuy-vy Nguyen (Runner Up: Scott Friedland)
- People's Choice Award: Sarah Catheline
- Stephanie Carpenter: Solving the Mystery of Iron Chemistry
- Scott Friedland: Pancreatic Cancer and the Tale of the Broken Librarian
- Sarah Catheline: Inhibiting Inflammaging to Treat Osteoarthritis (OA)
- Claire McCarthy: Investigating the Toxicological Effects of Dung Biomass Smoke Exposure
- Taylor Moon: The New Epidemic
- Thuy-vy Nguyen: Solitude
- Manisha Taya: Understanding Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM): The “Other” Steroid-Dependent Cancer From Bed-Side to Bench and Back Again
- Janelle Veazey: Role of Protein Kinase D in Epithelial Cells During Respiratory Infection