News and Announcements
September 2020 International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS)
Kayla M. Socarras, a Microbiology and immunology PhD candidate, presented a portion of her doctoral research at the annual scientific conference conducted by International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS). The ILADS conference is dedicated to bringing to light the latest scientific advancements in tick-borne diseases diagnostics or treatments. This year the ILADS conference intersection of One Health and Big Data. In this intersection, Kayla presented how her research on the full bacterial complement of the adult, Californian, Ixodes pacificus microbiome. Through understanding the tick microbiome, potential infections/co-infections of traditional tick pathogens as well as previously un-associated tick pathogens could be identified. Additionally, these studies also provide insight for additional diagnostic and therapeutic targets to treat tick-borne diseases with greater efficacy.
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.
Ogan Kumova to Give Discovery Day Presentation
Ogan Kumova, a PhD student in the microbiology and immunology graduate program, was one of five platform presenters to be highlighted in a news article about the College of Medicine's annual day of research, Discovery Day. Read the article.
Malaria Invasion, the latest educational mobile game produced by the Institute for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease at Drexel University College of Medicine is available for free download from iTunes App Store for iPhone and iPad users, and in the Google Play Store for Android devices. The mobile game is intended to be a supplementary tool to teach university students, in particular graduate students and research trainees in infectious disease, about the molecular mechanisms of disease in malaria.
Lying inside a freezer in Drexel’s College of Medicine are 500 dead, mourned by no one. The deer ticks, dog ticks, lone star ticks and other tiny parasites in the diminutive morgue traveled from nearly every state in the country to reach this resting place. They arrived in baggies or cookie tins or what-have-you, scooped from meadows and forests by helpful volunteers responding to a “call for specimens” on Drexel’s website that was posted by Kayla Socarrás, a doctoral student studying microbiology and immunology. Each tick contains multitudes of smaller organisms — a grab-bag of the pathogenic bacteria that make tick bites so hazardous. Read more.
Michael Nonnemacher, PhD, can remember when, as a teenage science geek, he would tell his friends that someday he'd find a cure for AIDS. "Back in the 1980s and 1990s, we knew so little about the disease, and I was naïve about what it really meant to be able to accomplish such a thing," says the associate professor in Microbiology & Immunology. As a graduate student at Penn State University, Nonnemacher started working with Brian Wigdahl, PhD, examining how genetic variations of HIV might impact proteins important for the virus's replication in immune cells. When Wigdahl was recruited to Drexel, Nonnemacher went with him. Read more.
Vanessa Pirrone, PhD '09, was a high school science teacher when she first studied HIV with her students — a formative moment in her decision to go back to school and pursue a research career. "We read a book about the discovery of the HIV virus in the 1980s, and I found it fascinating — namely, the idea of identifying an infectious disease that is afflicting so many people," says the assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology. "I wanted to know how you identify a disease like that, and how you delve deeper to understand the mechanisms at work." Read more.
Malaria Invasion Receives Gold Medal
Congratulations to the Department of Microbiology & Immunology and the Institute for Molecular Medicine & Infectious Disease, whose game Malaria Invasion was awarded a gold medal by the 2019 International Serious Play Award program! Dr. Mary Ann Comunale, creative director, and Dr. Sandra Urdaneta-Hartmann, project director, will be traveling to the Serious Play Conference, where they will present game-based learning research and accept the award. John Harvey, a co-op student hired by the Institute and funded in part by the Steinbright Career Development Center, shares in the award as part of the game design team and game developer. John is currently a senior in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design program.
2019 Mary Dewitt Pettit Fellowship Awarded to Dr. Comunale
Mary Ann Comunale, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology and director of the department's Center for Scientific Communication and Outreach, received the 2019 Mary Dewitt Pettit Fellowship. Originally established jointly by the Trust Fund of the Alumnae/i Association of WMC/MCP and the estate of Mary DeWitt Pettit, MD, and donated by the Trust Fund to Drexel University in 2015, this $10,000 fellowship supports research or other special projects of junior female faculty members at the College of Medicine.
In the Media
August 17, 2020: Will Dampier, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, was quoted in a Gizmodo story about whether it's possible to get a disease from a toilet seat.
May 27, 2020: Kayla M. Socarrás, a Microbiology & Immunology PhD student and researcher, was quoted in a Men's Health article about how to get rid of ticks this summer. The article was also published by Yahoo.
March 25, 2020: Akhil Vaidya, PhD, a professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology and director of the Center for Molecular Parasitology, was quoted in a Philadelphia Inquirer article about people stockpiling an anti-malaria drug touted by President Trump as a treatment for COVID-19.
September 10, 2019: Garth Ehrlich, PhD, a professor of microbiology and immunology, and otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, was quoted in a Grid Philly story about why we're seeing more cases of Lyme disease.
August 23, 2019: Garth D. Ehrlich, PhD, a professor of microbiology and immunology, and otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, was quoted in an NJ.com opinion article on common myths about Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment.
June 13, 2019: A microbiology and immunology research lab that focuses on identifying diseases carried by ticks, led by Garth Ehrlich, PhD, a professor of microbiology and immunology, was mentioned in a Philadelphia Inquirer story about a similar lab currently being operated at East Stroudsburg University.
April 23, 2019: Kayla Socarras, a Microbiology & Immunology PhD student, was quoted in a Yahoo! Lifestyle story about an impending uptick in bug populations this summer and how to avoid tick bites.
January 3, 2019: Alison Carey, MD, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology, was quoted in a Health story about how long cold and flu germs can live on surfaces like doorknobs and subway poles.
November 8, 2018: Garth Ehrlich, PhD, a professor of microbiology and immunology, was featured in a Philadelphia Inquirer story about his research investigating whether bacteria can cause Alzheimer’s disease.
October 22, 2018: "Pivotal moment for NetScientific's Glycotest Inc with $10 million financing"
Technology developed by Drexel University College of Medicine, Department of Microbiology & Immunology for the early detection of liver cancer has received a $10 million in series funding from from Fosun Pharma. Drexel University has licensed the patented technology to Glycotest, Inc. Fosun will receive exclusive licensing to manufacture and sell the Glycotest Inc. HCC Panel, in China.
Related Faculty: Dr. Mary Ann Comunale, Dr. Anand Mehta, Dr. Timothy Block (Inventors)
October 21, 2018: Joshua Chang Mell, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, is quoted in a PNAS Journal Club article about research he did to identify the genetic variations that enable nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) to adapt to life in the lungs of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
April 2018: Sandra Urdaneta-Hartmann, MD, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, was quoted in a post on EdSurge about CD4 Hunter, a game created by a group of College of Medicine researchers to teach students about the life and replication cycle of HIV.
April 24, 2018: Akhil Vaidya, PhD, a professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, was quoted in a Science News story on a new genetically-modified plant that may bolster our supplies of antimalarial drugs.
April 15, 2018: Sandra Urdaneta-Hartmann, MD, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, was interviewed on an episode of TWiV (This Week in Virology) about "CD4 Hunter," a game created by College of Medicine researchers to teach users about how the HIV virus infects.
August 23, 2017: Garth Ehrlich, PhD, professor in the Departments of Microbiology & Immunology and Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, was quoted in a Philadelphia Inquirer story about a project his lab is undertaking to collect ticks from the public and use advanced gene sequencing techniques to study their microbiomes. Dr. Ehrlich’s research study was also quoted in a KYW-Newsradio (1060-AM) on August 26.
July 24, 2017: Carla Brown, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow, was interviewed for a WHYY/Newsworks.org story about "CD4 Hunter," a game created by Brown and researchers in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology that teaches players how HIV infects and replicates in the human body.
May 19, 2017: A Bucks County Courier Times article about the difficulty in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease, which quoted Garth Ehrlich, PhD, a professor in the Departments of Microbiology & Immunology, and Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, was picked up by WCAU-TV (NBC-10)'s website.
May 12, 2017: Garth Ehrlich, PhD, a professor in the Departments of Microbiology & Immunology and Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, was quoted in a Bucks County Courier Times story about the difficulty in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease.
March 29, 2017: Joshua Chang Mell, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, was quoted in a Cystic Fibrosis News Today story about a recent study he published, which profiled the genes of bacteria commonly found in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients.
See all College of Medicine faculty in the Media
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