The Center for Genomic Sciences is a comprehensive and flexible research facility designed to investigate a broad range of medically and surgically relevant problems using cutting-edge molecular genetics, genomics and bioinformatics techniques. The Center for Genomic Sciences, located at 245 N. 15th Street in Philadelphia, is a self-contained research unit of the College of Medicine's Institute for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease.
The Center for Genomic Sciences is broadly focused on understanding the function and evolution of genomes. We use comparative and functional approaches, taking advantage of resources available through the Genomics Core Facility and Center for Advanced Microbial Processing. We are particularly focused on microbial genomes (both prokaryotic and eukaryotic), from the smallest cellular genomes, like Borrelia burgdorferi (the causative agent of Lyme disease) with a single ~1 megabase chromosome, to some of the largest known, like the dinoflagellate Procentrum lima whose genome exceeds 100 gigabases (much larger than the 3 gigabase human genome).
One of our major model systems is the human chronic pathogen Haemophilus influenzae, for which we are obtaining complete sequences of ~1000 clinical strains isolated from both healthy and diseased patients from a variety of body sites and using novel bioinformatics approaches to understanding its population-level genomics. Similar comparative projects are being carried out within other species, including Gardnerella vaginalis, Lactobacillus crispatus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Moraxella cattarhalis, Burkholderia cenocenocepacia and Acinetobacter baumanii. The goal of this research is to understand the evolution of pathogenesis, particularly in the context of chronic infection, and to isolate virulence determinants by applying phylogenomics and statistical genetics approaches.
Sequencing, Gene Expression and Genotyping Services
The Center for Genomic Sciences provides a collaborative interdisciplinary environment for scientists, engineers and clinicians performing basic, translational, industrial and clinical research programs covering a wide range of programs in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomics, including host-pathogen interactions. Center for Genomic Sciences technologies include multiple cutting platforms for whole genome sequencing, genotyping and expression analyses. In addition to standard Illumina sequencing we also have the Pacific Biosciences third generation DNA sequencing technology. Similarly for expression analyses in addition to RNA seq we have other types of nucleic acid counting platforms, including both the nanoString technology and the Bio-Rad droplet digital PCR system.
Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary science that seamlessly integrates computational methodologies into molecular biology, biological databases and genotypes. It focuses on the molecular biology and physics of the cell and emphasizes the use of advanced mathematics and computation. CGS is not only a consumer of bioinformatic analysis programs, but a major developer as well, particularly in the realm of comparative bacterial genomics where we have played a leadership role for a decade.
News and Announcements
Tower Health Research Day
Benjamin Haslund-Gourley won 1st place at the Tower Health Research Day for his talk titled: "Characterizing Aberrant N-Glycosylation During Acute Lyme Disease." His abstract was selected for 1 of 5 talks out of 97 entries. Ben is a third-year MD/PhD student in the lab of Dr. Comunale, Department of Microbiology and Immunology.
Neil Spector Humanitarian Award
Kayla Socarras, PhD candidate in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, is the 2022 recipient of the Neil Spector Humanitarian Award presented at the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society (ILADS) conference held in Orlando Florida. Kayla has attended the conference since 2015. She presented posters in 2016-2018 and in 2021 and was a speaker in 2019, 2020 and 2022. This year her presentation was titled "Construction of a Dual Borrelia/Borreliella Genera Pangenome for Diagnostics and Therapeutics."
Haslund-Gourley Wins Provost's Award for Best In-Person Oral Research Presentation
April 20, 2022: Benjamin Haslund-Gourley, MD/PhD student in the Microbiology & Immunology program, won the Provost's Award for Best In-Person Oral Research Presentation for "N-glycans on IgG Reflect Acute Lyme Disease and Treatment Response."
Hep-B Ware Wins 3rd Place
Drexel's Hep-B Ware has won 3rd place for Student Games Presented in the PechaKucha Style at the European Conference on Game-based Learning. Mary Ann Comunale presented the game at the conference that took place on September 23-24, 2021. The game was developed by Drexel co-op student Christopher Dobbins (Game Design and Production 20'). PechaKucha is a storytelling format where the game presents 20 slides for 20 seconds of commentary each. Download Hep-B Ware on Google Play (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=edu.drexel.ducom.hepb1&hl=en_US&gl=US)
Congratulations on Successful Thesis Defense
On April 23, 2021, Kaytie Innamorati successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled “Comparative genomics of the keystone mucosal pathogens Porphyromonas gingivalis and Gardnerella vaginalis reveal associations between virulence phenotypes and phylogenetic structures.”
On March 31, 2021, Haley Majer successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled “Natural Product Discovery of Thiopeptide Producers and Functional Characterization of Adenylation-Domains in Thiostrepton and Siomycin Biosynthesis.”
August 2020 Karabots Junior Fellows Outreach Initiative
Department of Microbiology and Immunology students and staff have completed another outreach initiative with The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Karabots Junior Fellows. The Junior Fellows are high school students and Philadelphia residents with an interest in health care or medicine, who will be the first in their immediate family to graduate with a higher education degree, and who qualify for free or reduced lunch. The graduate students designed and implemented a three-session program that discussed the need for a cohesive and well-planned national pandemic strategy. The discussions focused on: the role of health care providers and epidemiologists; biostatistics and the creation of databases; the role of biomedical researchers in targeted therapies and vaccine development; and the need for honest and scientifically correct communications between those working to mitigate a pandemic as well as dissemination of information to the public. Participants included Dr. Mary Ann Comunale, Jennifer Conners, Elijah Davis Rachael, Erlich Mohamed Hager, Dr. Ogan Kumova, Teresa LuPone and Kayla Socarras.
Discovery Day 2019
November 7, 2019: Students and professional staff from the Ehrlich, Beld, and Mell Labs, including Jocelyn Hammond, Hayley Majer, Danielle Piazza and Amanda Platt, presented posters at the 2019 Discovery Day at the Philadelphia Convention Center.
Discovery Day is an all-day annual event of intellectual pursuit and discovery, which is organized to celebrate the basic and clinical research accomplishments of the graduate, medical and undergraduate students, clinical research coordinators, postdoctoral fellows, and residents and fellows affiliated with the College of Medicine.
- Jocelyn Hammond, MS, a research associate at the Center for Advanced Microbial Processing (CAMP), presented her poster, “Supragenome-wide Association Study in NontypeableHaemophilus influenzae Reveals Role for Polyamine Metabolism and pH Homeostasis in Otitis Media.”
- Haley Majer, a PhD candidate in the lab of Joris Beld, PhD, presented her posted, “Whole Genome Sequencing of Actinomycetes Isolates Reveal Gene Clusters that Encode Potent Antibiotics.”
- Danielle Piazza, a PhD candidate in the lab of Joshua Chang Mell, PhD, presented her poster, “Detecting Genetic Events without Genetics: Direct Visualization of Genome-Wide Recombination in a Pathogenic Bacterium by Optical Mapping.”
- Amanda Platt, a fourth-year PhD candidate in the lab of Joris Beld, PhD, presented her poster, "Understanding protein-protein interactions in natural product biosynthesis using a small synthase."
Amanda Platt at Discovery Day
Hayley Majer at Discovery Day
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