Chemical and Biochemical Engineering Graduate Seminar

October 22, 2020
October 22, 2020
Speaker: Mark Brynildsen, PhD 
               Princeton University 
               Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Topic: "Toward next-generation antibiotics through potentiation and complementation"
Time: 11:15 am 
The research of my group is motivated by the global public health threat of antibiotic resistance. Alarmingly, the increase in antibiotic-resistant infections has not been met by a comparable expansion to the antibiotic pipeline. Such a scenario has been recognized by the World Health Organization and countries around the world as a serious threat to our ability to treat bacterial infections. In my group, we seek to address this crisis by improving the efficacy of current antibiotics and identifying novel anti-infectives to complement conventional therapies. Specifically, in one area we examine why antibiotics fail to sterilize bacterial populations under best-case treatment scenarios: bacteria are sensitive to the antibiotic, the antibiotic concentration is well above that necessary to kill bacteria, and resistant mutants are not present in the population. This phenomenon is known as bacterial persistence, and it is thought to contribute to infection relapse following efficacious antibiotic treatment. Further, it is thought to provide a reservoir of bacteria from which resistant mutants can arise during chronic infections. Our work on bacterial persistence centers on understanding the physiological aspects of persisters that allow them to survive when their genetically identical kin cannot. In our other area, we apply principles and techniques from metabolic engineering to understand how bacteria defend themselves against immune antimicrobials, such as nitric oxide and hydrogen peroxide. Notably, sensitization of pathogens to immune effectors constitutes an anti-infective approach that could produce treatments that are orthogonal to current antibiotics, and thus able to restock the antibiotic medicine chest. In this talk, I will summarize our work in these areas and discuss how the knowledge we have uncovered can contribute to the fight against antibiotic resistance.
For additional information please contact Michele Giusti at