Mycobacterium Tuberculosis and cAMP: Examination of a Possible Virulence Mechanism
for This Deadly Pathogen
Instructor: Michaela Gazdik, Ph.D.
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
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