The academic school year opened with a bang as we hosted Dr. Katrine Whiteson from UC Irvine as the fifth iPATH/VII Seminar Series speaker at SDSU. Dr. Whiteson’s research at UCI is in the study of human-associated microbial communities in the context of health and disease. Her talk at SDSU focused on “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger: Co-evolution of Bacteriophage Infecting Enterococcus from the Human Microbiome”.
Dr. Whiteson shared insights about the bacterium they work on in their lab— on one of the 6 ESKAPE pathogens (a group of pathogens responsible for the majority of hospital-acquired infections with widespread antibiotic resistance) called Enterococcus faecium. She discussed case-studies of Enterococcus causing detrimental bacterial bloom, as well as the pipeline that her lab uses to isolate phages against this opportunistic pathogen. (Yay sewage!)
Her lab’s co-evolution experiments (largely done by her former graduate student Dr. Stephen Wandro) were incredibly insightful at looking at host (bacteria) – predator (phage) interactions, and how these relationships can inform scientists on thoughtful phage cocktail design for therapeutic use. The fact that many of these studies could be done quickly (in about ~10 days) was particularly exciting because of all the information you could glean from both the bacterium and phage in that relatively short amount of time.
If you’re interested in Dr. Whiteson’s work (and others) please attend this Friday’s SoCal Microbiome Symposium!.
Overall, it was a great turnout to yet another exciting iPATH talk. See everyone soon for Dr. Vincent Fischetti’s talk later in September!