News of Note

Research Grants Awarded

Dr. Debopam Chakrabarti was awarded an NIH R01 grant entitled, Plasmodium Protein Kinase Focused Antimalarials Discovery





Dr. Salvador Almagro-Moreno was awarded as the first UCF recipient of the prestigious Burroughs Welcome Fund Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases (PATH) award.


Dr. Taj Azarian is the co-principal investigator in an award from The Rockefeller Foundation for a project entitled “Expanding genomic surveillance and epidemiology capacity in Central Florida and Southeastern US”.





Dr. Salvador Almagro-Moreno was awarded NSF Career award for his project “Convergent molecular mechanisms regulating dormancy in Vibrios”. In this research project, Vibrio cholerae, the causative agent of cholera, will be used as a model system to study the role of a transcription factor, ToxR, in dormancy.






Dr. Debopam Chakrabarti received an NIH R01 grant for his project entitled, NOVEL ANTIMALARIALS FROM FUNGI.







Publication and Research Highlights
Salvador Almagro-Moreno’s recent publication in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (October 2021) provides insight into the mechanism of pathogen emergence in endemic Vibrio vulnificus populations.UCF Article: Clues Emerge: How Harmless Bacteria Go Rogue Turning into Deadly Flesh-eating Variants







Debopam Chakrabarti’s research group recently reported in the September 2021 issue of ACS Infectious Diseases the identification of cyclic tetrapeptide HDAC inhibitors from fungi that are selective and plasmidocidal.






Sean Moore’s recent publication in Journal of Bacteriology (March 2021) on “Exopolysaccharide anchoring creates an extreme resistance to sedimentation“ has been highlighted by the editors as one of the articles that have made a recent impact on the scientific community.







Salvador Almagro-Moreno was named to national think tank. Link to article


Dr. Debopam Chakrabarti and his collaborator’s research was selected for the cover of the latest issue of Marine Drugs. In this report, screening of the Harbor Branch fraction library against the Plasmodium falciparum chloroquine-resistant strain led to the identification of the novel diterpene, bebrycin A, and the known terpene, nitenin, as potent antiplasmodials.







Drs. Amy and Alex Cole’s recent article in mSphere provides a better understanding of how the nasal microbiome controls Staphylococcus aureus (SA) growth and viability, and may be useful in the design of improved SA decolonization strategies. The figure shows that while SA can proliferate over 10,000-fold on polarized nasal epithelia (panel A), select nasal bacteria inhibit SA survival even when co-incubations contained a 9-fold excess of SA (panel B).



Dr. Chakrabarti’s research group reports the discovery of fast-acting curative aryvinylquinoline antimalarial compounds in a recent article in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.





Dr. Debopam Chakrabarti and his collaborator’s publication is on the cover of February Issue of ACS Infectious Diseases. This cover shows a novel antiplasmodial agent attacking malaria parasites in infected red blood cells. This new compound was re-engineered from the indole alkaloid yohimbine using a ring distortion chemical synthesis reported by Huigens, Chakrabarti and co-workers”.





Dr. Sean Moore’s research group reported the mechanistic insight of translational frameshifting as a result of ribosomes colliding in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The figure shows that stalled ribosomes have higher E-site occupancy in the absence of ribosomal protein bL9.




Dr. Saleh Naser’s research has been highlighted on the cover of December 2019 issue of Microorganisms. The study clearly associated Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis with osteoporosis in autoimmune disease patients, including rheumatoid arthritis, with key SNPs in the TNF receptor superfamily gene.










Student Accomplishments

Michelle Cherne successfully defended her PhD. dissertation work (Dr. Alex Cole, supervisor) entitled “ HIV Infection in Women: Novel Approaches for Prevention”. Congrats to Dr. Cherne!

Division Seminar Series

April 6, 2022

Intra-Host Diversity of Stapphylococcus aureus in Carriage Among Native Americans 

Julia Webb, MS in Biotechnology Student, Azarian Lab

March 2, 2022

Attenuation of excess TNFα release in Crohn’s disease by Silencing of iRHOMs 1/2 and Restoration of TGFβ-mediated Immunosuppression through Modulation of TACE Trafficking

Taylor Louis, MS in Biotechnology Student, Naser Lab

February 9, 2022

Evaluating the functional Impacts of 16s rRNA Evolution

Nikhil Bose, PhD candidate, Moore lab

Recent Division Publications

López-Pérez M, Jayakumar JM, Grant TA, Zaragoza-Solas A, Cabello-Yeves PJ, Almagro-Moreno S. Ecological diversification reveals routes of pathogen emergence in endemic Vibrio vulnificus populations. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Oct 5;118(40):e2103470118. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2103470118. Epub 2021 Sep 30.PMID: 34593634

Collins JE, Lee JW, Bohmer MJ, Welden JD, Arshadi AK, Du L, Cichewicz RH, Chakrabarti D. Cyclic Tetrapeptide HDAC Inhibitors with Improved Plasmodium falciparumSelectivity and Killing Profile. ACS Infect Dis. 2021 Oct 8;7(10):2889-2903. doi: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.1c00341. Epub 2021 Sep 7.PMID: 34491031

Shaw AM, Qasem A, Naser SA. Modulation of PTPN2/22 Function by Spermidine in CRISPR-Cas9-Edited T-Cells Associated with Crohn’s Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Aug 18;22(16):8883. doi: 10.3390/ijms22168883.PMID: 34445589 

Norwood VM 4th, Murillo-Solano C, Goertzen MG 2nd, Brummel BR, Perry DL, Rocca JR, Chakrabarti D, Huigens RW 3rd. Ring Distortion of Vincamine Leads to the Identification of Re-Engineered Antiplasmodial Agents. ACS Omega. 2021 Jul 28;6(31):20455-20470. doi: 10.1021/acsomega.1c02480. eCollection 2021 Aug 10. PMID: 34395993

Huhn RG 3rd, Torres-Mangual N, Clore J, Cilenti L, Frisan T, Teter K. Endocytosis of the CdtA subunit from the Haemophilus ducreyi cytolethal distending toxin. Cell Microbiol. 2021 Jul 22:e13380. doi: 10.1111/cmi.13380. Online ahead of print. PMID: 34292647

Qasem A, Shaw AM, Elkamel E, Naser SA. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Diagnostic Tools: A Focus on Detection Technologies and Limitations. Curr Issues Mol Biol. 2021 Jul 20;43(2):728-748. doi: 10.3390/cimb43020053. PMID: 34287238  Review.

Azarian T. The Importance of Pathogen Whole-Genome Sequencing in Evaluating Interventions to Reduce the Spread of Multidrug-Resistant Organisms in the Healthcare Setting. Clin Infect Dis. 2021 Jun 1;72(11):1888-1890. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciaa724.PMID: 32505133

AlQasrawi D, Naser E, Naser SA.  Nicotine Increases Macrophage Survival through α7nAChR/NF-κB Pathway in Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis Infection. Microorganisms. 2021 May 18;9(5):1086. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms9051086. PMID: 34070119 

Keewan E, Beg S, Naser SA. Anti-TNF-α agents Modulate SARS-CoV-2 Receptors and Increase the Risk of Infection Through Notch-1 Signaling. Front Immunol. 2021 May 6;12:641295. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.641295. eCollection 2021. PMID: 34025650 

Giovanetti M, Cella E, Benedetti F, Rife Magalis B, Fonseca V, Fabris S, Campisi G, Ciccozzi A, Angeletti S, Borsetti A, Tambone V, Sagnelli C, Pascarella S, Riva A, Ceccarelli G, Marcello A, Azarian T, Wilkinson E, de Oliveira T, Alcantara LCJ, Cauda R, Caruso A, Dean NE, Browne C, Lourenco J, Salemi M, Zella D, Ciccozzi M. SARS-CoV-2 shifting transmission dynamics and hidden reservoirs potentially limit efficacy of public health interventions in Italy. Commun Biol. 2021 Apr 21;4(1):489. doi: 10.1038/s42003-021-02025-0. PMID: 33883675 

Wright AE, Collins JE, Roberts B, Roberts JC, Winder PL, Reed JK, Diaz MC, Pomponi SA, Chakrabarti D. Antiplasmodial Compounds from Deep-Water Marine Invertebrates.Mar Drugs. 2021 Mar 25;19(4):179. doi: 10.3390/md19040179.PMID: 33805935 (Journal Cover)

Kessler NG, Caraballo Delgado DM, Shah NK, Dickinson JA Jr, Moore SD.  Exopolysaccharide anchoring creates an extreme resistance to sedimentation. J Bacteriol. 2021 Mar 22;203(11):e00023-21. doi: 10.1128/JB.00023-21. Online ahead of print. PMID: 33753470

Yokokawa D, Tatematsu S, Takagi R, Saga Y, Roy H, Fischer F, Becker HD, Kushiro T. Synthesis of aminoacylated ergosterols: A new lipid component of fungi. Steroids. 2021 May;169:108823. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2021.108823. Epub 2021 Mar 11.PMID: 33713678

Cella E, David MZ, Jubair M, Baines SL, Pegues DA, Azarian T. Complete Genome Sequence of Exfoliative Toxin-Producing Staphylococcus aureus Strain MSSA_SSSS_01, Obtained from a Case of Staphylococcal Scalded-Skin Syndrome. Microbiol Resour Announc. 2021 Feb 11;10(6):e01335-20. doi: 10.1128/MRA.01335-20.PMID: 33574109 

Lee JW, Collins JE, Wendt KL, Chakrabarti D, Cichewicz RH. Leveraging Peptaibol Biosynthetic Promiscuity for Next-Generation Antiplasmodial Therapeutics. J Nat Prod. 2021 Feb 10. doi: 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.0c01370. Online ahead of print. PMID: 33565879

Johnstone MA, Nelson SJ, O’Leary C, Self WT. Exploring the selenium-over-sulfur substrate specificity and kinetics of a bacterial selenocysteine lyase. Biochimie. 2021 Jan 11;182:166-176. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2021.01.002. Online ahead of print. PMID: 33444662

Balasubramanian D, Murcia S, Ogbunugafor CB, Gavilan R, Almagro-Moreno S. Cholera dynamics: lessons from an epidemic. J Med Microbiol. 2021 Feb;70(2). doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.001298.PMID: 33416465 

Huang G, Solano CM, Melendez J, Yu-Alfonzo S, Boonhok R, Min H, Miao J, Chakrabarti D, Yuan Y. Discovery of fast-acting dual-stage antimalarial agents by profiling pyridylvinylquinoline chemical space via copper catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloadditions. Eur J Med Chem. 2021 Jan 1;209:112889. doi: 10.1016/j.ejmech.2020.112889. Epub 2020 Oct 4.PMID: 33045660

Cole AL, Sundar M, Lopez A, Forsman A, Yooseph S, Cole AM. Identification of Nasal Gammaproteobacteria with Potent Activity against Staphylococcus aureus: Novel Insights into the “Noncarrier” State. mSphere. 2021 Jan 6;6(1):e01015-20. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.01015-20. PMID: 33408227 

Banerjee T, Grabon A, Taylor M, Teter K.  cAMP-Independent Activation of the Unfolded Protein Response by Cholera Toxin.Infect Immun. 2021 Jan 19;89(2):e00447-20. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00447-20. Print 2021 Jan 19.PMID: 33199355