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Joris Beld

Joris Beld, PhD

Assistant Professor

Department: Microbiology & Immunology


  • Postdoctoral fellowship - UC San Diego, lab of Mike Burkart
  • PhD - ETH Zurich, Switzerland, lab of Don Hilvert
  • MSc - University of Twente, Netherlands, lab of David Reinhoudt

Joris Beld, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at Drexel University College of Medicine. He has a secondary appointment in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. Dr. Beld received his MSc from the University of Twente, while working in the laboratory of David Reinhoudt. His PhD research at ETH Zurich was completed in the laboratory of Don Hilvert, and he served as a postdoctoral fellow in Mike Burkart’s laboratory at UC San Diego.

Read Dr. Beld's Interview

Research Overview

In addition to his research interests in chemical biology and microbiology of secondary metabolism in various organisms, Dr. Beld is deploying mass spectrometry in the Center for Advanced Microbial Processing.

Visit the Center For Advanced Microbial Processing (CAMP)

Current students:

  • Amanda Platt (PhD, Microbiology & Immunology)
  • Haley Majer (PhD, Microbiology & Immunology)
  • Zhuo Kang (Ivy) (undergraduate volunteer)

Former students:

  • Gabrielle Rose Beam (SURF student)
  • Kristen Buenconsejo (MS, Microbiology & Immunology)
  • Tucker Collins (MS, Neuroscience, with Sandhya Kortagere)
  • Tyra Davis (MS, Infectious Disease)
  • Nga Ying Eng (undergraduate volunteer and MS student)
  • Courtney Fesko (MS, Biochemistry)
  • Skarleth Moran (MS, Infectious Disease)
  • Tuan Vo (MS, Forensics)
  • Kaiwei Wang (KINSC student)
  • Rachael Wilson (undergraduate volunteer)

In every project we integrate mass spectrometry. Most projects are co-mentored with Amy T. Ma, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology.

Research Interests

Chemical biology and microbiology of secondary metabolism in various organisms


Of all the drugs used in a hospital to treat patients, about 75% are secondary metabolite or secondary metabolite derived molecules. My lab is interested in all aspects of these metabolites, ranging from their biosynthesis and their microbiological role in nature to applications in the clinic.

Secondary Metabolism

Nature produces a wealth of compounds in primary and secondary metabolism. Traditionally, natural products, a key resource from secondary metabolism, have been studied at a chemical level before the gene clusters or enzymes responsible for their biosynthesis were known. Of late there is a strong trend in the opposite direction (“from gene to secondary metabolites”), especially strengthened by the recent technological breakthroughs in genome sequencing and bioinformatics. In my research group, we harvest a compilation of genomic, transcriptomic and metabolomic methods to explore fundamental questions within several lines of research.

Biosynthetic gene cluster (BGC) of vancomycin

Biosynthetic gene cluster (BGC) of vancomycin, highlighting the conveyor-belt assembly line of this non-ribosomal peptide synthase producing the important antibiotic vancomycin, produced in Amycolatopsis orientalis.

Mass Spectrometry

Mass spectrometry, specifically tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) is the method of choice to mine complex samples for new natural products. Coupled with sensitive liquid chromatography we have a pipeline from genome to secondary metabolite. Gas chromatography MS is ideal for screening engineered bacterial strains for small metabolites like terpenes, fatty acids or small polyketides.

Liquid chromatography mass spectrometry setups in the New College Building

Liquid chromatography mass spectrometry setups in the New College Building include (from left to right) a Waters Acquity UPLC-Synapt G2Si QTOF, Thermo Eksigent 2d-nano-lc-LTQ linear ion trap, Waters Alliance HPLC-QDA single quad and Sciex Perkin Elmer-triple-quad (Waters Alliance-ZQD single quad not shown).

Pathogenic Bacteria

Pathogenic bacteria have a fascinating arsenal of virulence factors. We explore the properties of these factors in biological assays.

Bacterial colonies on an agar surface expressing a synthase that produces a deep blue dye; the filter disk (white circle) is spotted with a molecule from another bacterium and a zone of inhibition is observed

Bacterial colonies on an agar surface expressing a synthase that produces a deep blue dye. The filter disk (white circle) is spotted with a molecule from another bacterium and a zone of inhibition is observed.


Many other exciting projects in the field of secondary metabolism, pathogenic bacteria and mass spectrometry are being pursued.

In the Media


Selected Publications
Full list can be found on Google Scholar

"Specificity of cobamide remodeling, uptake and utilization in Vibrio cholerae
Ma AT*, Tyrell B, Beld J
Mol Microbiol, 113(1):89-102, 2020
*corresponding author

“Online Analysis of Single Cyanobacteria and Algae Cells under Nitrogen-Limited Conditions Using Aerosol Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry”
Cahill JF, Darlington TK, Fizgerald C, Shoepp N, Beld J, Burkart MD and Prather KA
Analytical Chemistry, (editor's highlight) published ASAP, 2015

“Selenocystamine improves protein accumulation in chloroplasts of eukaryotic green algae”
Ferreira-Camargo L, Tran M, Beld J, Burkart MD and Mayfield SP
AMB Express, online, 2015

“Fatty acid biosynthesis revisited: structure elucidation and metabolic engineering”
Beld J, Lee DJ and Burkart MD
Molecular Biosystems, 2015

“Visualizing the chain-flipping mechanism in fatty acid biosynthesis”
Beld J, Cang H, Burkart MD
Angewandte Chemie, 2014

“Versatility of acyl-ACP synthetases”
Beld J, Finzel K and Burkart MD
Chemistry & Biology, highlighted in preview, 2014