Freshman Scholars Program 2013

Mycobacterium Tuberculosis and cAMP: Examination of a Possible Virulence Mechanism for This Deadly Pathogen

Instructor:  Michaela Gazdik, Ph.D.


Project Description:

One student interested in biology, pre-professional science, infectious diseases and/or biochemistry. Interest in laboratory-based science as opposed to field biology is also preferred. Student who will be successful in the lab normally have a strong background in high school science.

This project uses a non-pathogenic bacterium, M. smegmatis, as a model organism for studying the deadly human pathogen M. tuberculosis. A recent development in the field suggests that changing levels of cAMP in M. tuberculosis provide a mechanism to avoid the immune system and cause disease in humans. This project will screen and identify mutant M. smegmatis bacteria that show changes in their ability to secrete cAMP during growth. Discovery of such required genes is the first step toward identification of possible drug targets for the bacterium. Students will obtain hands-on experience in standard microbiological culturing methods, perform an ELISA assay for cAMP detection, and learn how to use basic molecular equipment such as a fluorescent microplate reader and gel electrophoresis chambers.

The nature of laboratory work is that some days will be very lab intensive while others will be less as we wait for bacterial cultures to grow or be ready to work with. During the project, the student will keep a lab notebook, properly documenting their time in the lab. The final assessment will be the finished poster and corresponding presentation of their research.



Michaela Gazdik, Ph.D.

Dr. Gazdik obtained her B.S. degree in biotechnology from Rutgers University and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in biomedical sciences from the State University of New York at Albany. Her research interests are based in molecular microbiology, specifically studying gene regulatory mechanisms that allow human pathogens to cause disease. Dr. Gazdik has been at Ferrum College for five years as an Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology and is the current Program Coordinator for the Biology program.

If you have specific questions about this project, please contact Dr. Gazdik directly at MGazdik@ferrum.edu.

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