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Molecular & Cell Biology & Genetics (MCBG) Faulty Highlight - Joshua Chang Mell

Joshua Chang Mell, PhD

2020-2021 Faulty Highlight

Joshua Chang Mell, PhD, is an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology and the assistant director of the Center for Genomic Sciences.

Dr. Mell recently received a three-year grant from the Hartwell Foundation that aims to support early-stage innovative biomedical research that will benefit children in the United States. Using this prestigious grant, he will develop new approaches to diagnosing and disrupting middle ear biofilms that are involved in chronic pediatric ear infections. In collaboration with Drexel scientists, as well as with clinicians at the Rochester General Hospital Research Institute, Dr. Mell’s research began with evolutionary genomic analyses of bacterial strains collected from healthy children and children with ear infections, finding a link between pH homeostasis and biofilm formation. He is now investigating gene expression profiles within diverse biofilms to identify biomarkers that could predict persistent ear infections, as well as testing novel chemical compounds' ability to disrupt biofilms and cure chronic and recurrent ear infections.

Dr. Mell was recruited to the Department of Microbiology & Immunology in 2014 after his productive postdoctoral studies at the University of British Columbia. His research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms that shape the genomic landscape. He aims to investigate bacterial pathogenesis through the lens of evolutionary genomics. By allowing the bacteria to show us how they grow and what they like, he works to identify novel approaches to intervening with long-term chronic infections. Dr. Mell also investigates processes that transfer genes among bacterial pathogens, especially natural competence and transformation.

Dr. Mell has extensive experience in molecular cell biology, genetics/genomics and bioinformatics. He has received prestigious awards and grants from NIH, Genetics Society of America, George G. Lee Memorial Scholarship, and Floyd and Mary Schwall Medical Research Fellowship. As a PI of several private and NIH-funded grants during the past seven years, he published more than 30 publications (out of total 49 publications) and presented at numerous national and international conferences.

Dr. Mell is also passionate about education and working as an instructor in eight courses in the biomedical sciences, mostly around microbiology or genomic sciences. He plans to consolidate genetics and genomics education into a more coherent course or set of courses in the future.

Dr. Mell grew up in Santa Cruz, California, with his mother, who immigrated from China. He spent his early years at the beach and in the woods, which drove him toward his love of biology. Now, he lives in Fishtown with his spouse, a science editor, and their 8-year-old son, who lead a rich city life supplemented by forays into the wilderness.

A Molecular & Cell Biology & Genetics program graduate student working in a laboratory at Drexel University College of Medicine.