Seminar: Brian Mendoza, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Title: "Development of Generalizable CRISPR-Cas Antimicrobial Strategies."
The rise of antibiotic resistant pathogens necessitates the development of alternative forms of combating virulent microorganisms beyond the small-molecule drug paradigm. Concurrently, the CRISPR-Cas (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Palindromic Repeats) adaptive bacterial immunity system has shown to be able to effectively manipulate the genomes of organisms across all kingdoms of life. In order to address the dangers of increasing antibiotic resistance while improving on the selectivity of antibiotic treatments, we harness the innovations in CRISPR-Cas biology to develop our ViPaRe (Virulent Pathogen Resistance) methodology. ViPaRe selectively target key elements of a pathogen’s genome to neutralize both its replication, virulence, and capability to adapt. Due to its 20-25 nucleotide guide RNA design, it can be constructed to be highly specific to the targeted pathogen, leaving the host microbiome unperturbed. Studying the system in model organisms Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Escherichia coli highlight the importance of the selection of both genes and sequences within the gene loci to create an effective antimicrobial treatment. In particular, multiplexing with “defensive” genes can increase efficacy and slow the evolution of resistance/escape mechanisms.
Mendoza is a PhD candidate at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in the lab of Cong Trinh, Ferguson Faculty Fellow in Chemical Engineering. His research focuses on the development of CRISPR-Cas tools for manipulating microorganisms in both antimicrobial and microbiome engineering contexts. His work on antimicrobials is funded by a DARPA YFA (Young Faculty Award) and Director’s Fellowship. Previous to his doctoral studies, he spent two years working on new market strategies for grid-level energy storage solutions. He graduated from Stanford University in 2012 with a BS in Chemistry and a BA in Classics.
Tuesday, November 19 at 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Dougherty Engineering Building, 416
1512 Middle Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996