Microbiology, Immunology & Pathology

Volume 6, Issue 8
August 2009

Dean Crick Appointed as new MRL Director

Dean Crick

Congratulations to Dr. Crick on his appointment as the new Director of the Mycobacterial Research Laboratories (MRL). The MRL consists of over 20 faculty whose well-funded research programs are targeted towards understanding and eradicating the organisms responsible for tuberculosis, leprosy and other mycobacterial diseases.

MRL Director's Chair

Remember when Dr. Crick was just plain Dean? Now in one short year his title collection has skyrocketed to include Professor and a Director. But please - just ‘cause his collaborator moved next door to him and will certainly be assisting with a bit more of the day to day operations of the lab due to Dr. Crick's administrative duties, don't start referring to Michio Kurosu as ‘Assistant Dean’.

Cash for non-clunkers

Despite the international recession, it was another strong fiscal year for research funding for both CSU as a whole (which set another new record for research expenditures of over $312 million) as well as MIP researchers in particular. For FY 2009 (which ended June 30, 2008), the MIP Department secured a massive $33,933,877 in external grant dollars according to the Sponsored Programs database. This represented 177 individual grant awards. Active grants in the MIP Department now total $160,498,145.60.

Congratulations to everyone involved in the MIP research enterprise. This truly is an outstanding team effort.

DMC Opening Ceremony
MIP Roadtrip Rockies welcome MIP

On August 8th, MIPers accounted for 75 of the 47,845 fans at Coors Field as the Cubs edged the Rockies in a great ball game 6-5. The outing produced several interesting phenomena: Ed Hoover decided to leave his Chicago gear at home and unlike many Chicago fans in attendance he watched the game ‘incubnito’. Die hard Yankee-fan Charlie Calisher was in attendance and MIPnews photographers were fortunate enough to capture the game through his eyes. Our Department name was flashed on the center field scoreboard during the top of the 5th inning, at which moment Derrick Lee of the Cubs hit a towering shot over the left field wall for a home run. The Wilusz gang was fortunate enough to snag a ball in batting practice, complements of Cubs pitcher Jeff Steven's tossing a shot off the right field scoreboard into the stands (Stevens by the way, was sent down to the minors the next day.). Erin Napier demonstrated how to use the two finger whistle to motivate Clint Barmes to blast a home run for the Rockies in the 7th. Unfortunately she also blew the whistle in the Cubs half of the inning and Kosuke Fukudome blasted a homer as well. Clearly she has to learn how to control that thing..

The bottom line - a great time was had by all. For more photos, check out the complete photo gallery.

  • Monali Bera, DVM, defended her MS thesis entitled, ‘The Role of Ascorbic acid and Hypoxia inducible factor- 1 alpha on Pulmonary Granulocytes in the Early Infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis’ on August 3. Dr. Randall Basaraba is her advisor.

In the News...

Chet Moore was quoted in the associated press article by Chris Woolston entitled, "New clip-on mosquito repllent has drawbacks" which was run in both the the July 27 Baltimore Sun and the July 27 Los Angeles Times.

Chet Moore and his laboratory were highlighted in the July 29 Coloradoan in an article entitled, "CSU labs tests for West Nile virus; activity remains relatively low". Read the article.

Lora Ballweber was quoted in the Aug 2 edition of the Tacoma, Washington newspaper, The News Tribune, in an article entitled, "Dogs ‘cold’ could be canine influenza". Read the article.

pub highlight

The Two-Domain LysX Protein of M. tuberculosis is Required for Production of Lysinylated PG and Resistance to Cationic Antimicrobial Peptides

Eric Maloney, D. Stankowska, Jian Zhang, M. Fol., Q.J. Cheng, S. Lun, W.R. Bishai, M. Rajagopalan, Delphi Chatterjee and Murty Madiraju

PLoS Pathogens Vol 5, July 2009 e1000534

The weather's not the only thing that's hot around here this month. Our publication of the month for August is a collaboration between groups from UT Health Center at Tyler Texas, Johns Hopkins and our own Delphi Chatterjee and Jian Zhang that identifies not only a novel membrane modification in the agent that causes tuberculosis - but also demonstrates its biological relevance. Aside from its obvious biochemical/microbiology interest, this work might also lay the foundation for a novel way to make mycobacteria more susceptible to a set of common antibiotics.

Being a biochemist these days is a bit like taking part in the 1859 Colorado gold rush. With genomes being sequenced hand over fist and gene expression data using microarrays and other Slayden-esque technologies rampant, a mountain of data has been generated for clever biochemists to mine. We think that Delphi, Jian and colleagues tapped into a nice vein in this exploration. Like most elegant studies, the underlying logic of this one is fairly easy to digest and comes in two simple steps. First, lysinylated modifications to polar membrane lipids are found in other organisms - so the group using radiolabled lysine and TLC analysis to demonstrate that they occur in Mtb membranes as well (~0.3% of total lipids are modified by lysine). For you membrane connoisseurs out there (you know who you are), in Mtb the lysine gets hung upon a phosphotidylglycerol molecule. Second, a gene from Staph aureus called mprF is known to be responsible for lysine modifications in that organism. So Jian, Delphi et al used simple bioinformatics and genetics to identify a mprF homolog in Mtb (perhaps interestingly it was fused to a lysyl tRNA synthetase), knocked it out, and showed that the gene was indeed required for lysine modifications of polar lipids in Mtb.

Now comes the $250,000 (per year for five years) question: Why the heck should you care about a modification that occurs on less than half a percent of the lipids in a bacterial membrane? Well Delphi et al showed that an Mtb bacillus that can't lysinylate its membranes has a relatively depolarized membrane due to the positive charge of the lysine group, grows a bit slower in culture and is significantly more susceptible to antibiotics and antimicrobial peptides like vancomycin or lysozyme that cause death by interfering with negatively charged membranes. Importantly, these lysinylation-deficient bugs are also killed better by macrophages, elicit a better, more effective immune response, show significantly less inflammation in the lungs of infected animals and are rather attenuated for growth in the popular guinea pig model. Thus this collaborative study has clearly identified an important contributor to membrane function in Mtb, particularly in terms of survival of the organism during infection.

So why did this study beat out several other nice MIPublications for our coveted publication of the month? That's easy - simply put its a clever piece of cutting-edge science that uses biochemical, genetic, immunological and pathological approaches to fairly comprehensively characterize a novel modification in a disease-causing organism that affects ~ 1/3rd of the world's population. In the future, perhaps if MicroRX-associated researchers can learn how to tickle this lysine modification pathway with small molecules, we might have a novel way of making several common antibiotics more effective in killing Mtb. As current treatment regimens continue to lose their effectiveness to multi-drug resistant Mtb strains, potential therapeutic insights such as this can help keep us one step ahead of this scourge.

MIP Publications Late July - Early August 2009


MIP News 5th Anniversary
Alumni Corner

MIP has its share of highly successful alumni - and we wanna hear from them!

One of the hardest decisions in a graduate student's life (aside from when to stop reading the MIPnews and get back to lab work) is how to choose a project/career path. To follow is the story of how one MIP alumni who has a very successful career in academia in the bacterial arena did it.

D. Jay Grimes, Ph.D. in Microbiology in 1971

Jay Grimes

In 1966, after receiving my B.A. in Biology from Drake University, I had the opportunity to get a teaching assistantship at Drake and thereby continue my studies. I completed my M.A. under the direction of Dr. Jerrell F. Fair, a new assistant professor from Colorado State who had gotten his Ph.D. in Microbiology from Dr. Sumner M. "Buck" Morrison.

Dr. Fair encouraged me to talk with Dr. Morrison about continuing my education at CSU and I started a Ph.D. program in 1968 with support (traineeship) from the FWPCA (which later became the EPA). Dr. Morrison was my major professor so I guess I was an "academic grandson!" While at CSU, I took genetics from Dr. Jim Ogg who was department chair at that time.

I still remember that Dr. Ogg had done some work on Vibrio cholerae and the Great Salt Lake (although I can't track anything in PubMed or ASM on this work). At that time I remember thinking "why would anyone want to work on V. cholerae?"

In 1980, I became a visiting associate professor in Dr. Rita Colwell's lab, became introduced to and fascinated by the Vibrios and everything else is history! I've worked on very little else since then.

I will continue my career for another 3-5 years and then retire. And I will always have fond memories of CSU, Ft. Collins, Poudre Canyon and my many wonderful professors who included Drs. Morrison, Ogg, Joyce, Tornabene, Boyd, Klein and Chow.

See Dr. Grimes webpage on the University of Southern Mississippi website.

Faculty Retreat Presenter

The Fall MIP Faculty Retreat will be held at the University Park Hilton on Tuesday, August 25, 8:00am to 12:00pm.


RMV Annual Mtg

This year's meeting of the Rocky Mountain Virology Club will be held at Pingree Park on Oct 2-4 (Friday evening to Sunday noon).
Go to the Rocky Mtn Virology Club website to see highlights of previous meetings.
Registration information will be forthcoming.

Rocky Mountain ASM Meeting

The Fall meeting of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the American Society for Microbiology will be held on Saturday, November 14th at the UCD Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. Randy Cohrs and Adela Cota-Gomez are hosting the festivities. Information on registration will be available shortly.

CVMA Annual Conference

For more information, and to register online, visit the CVMA website.

Mock Board Exam Residents taking Mock Board Exam

Anatomic Pathology Residents took their Mock Board Exam on July 20th. Mock Boards are given annually by the Anatomic Pathology Group to assist residents in their preparation for the real deal. A big thanks to Debra Kamstock for all her efforts putting the exam together. Despite the work involved with preparing such an exam, Debra says it's fun and she enjoys working with the residents and watching their pathology skills advance.

Check out the Mock Board Exam Photo Gallery.

Lab Lines

Check out the Spring/Summer 2009 edition of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory publication of Lab Lines.

MIP Fall seminar schedule

Looking for ten interesting things to do this semester? Check out the MIP Fall Seminar Schedule. Most seminars take place Friday mornings at 9AM in Path 103.

Department Search

The Virologist Search Committee will be interviewing;
Dr. David Beasley on Sept 3 & 4
Dr. Slobodan Paessler on Sept 8 & 9
Dr. Scott Weaver on Sept 10 & 11

New Graduate Students
Claire Birkenheuer

Claire Birkenheuer moved to Fort Collins a few weeks ago from Lakewood, Colorado. She has entered the PhD program with an interest in virology as well as many other areas including various biochemical processes in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Claire received her BS in Honors Biochemistry from Regis University. Over the summer she worked with Dr. Betz at Regis researching protein-protein interactions in the Paf 1 complex of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Claire was a student of ballet for 14 years and still enjoys watching ballet any chance she gets. She also enjoys making glass beads and spending time with her dog.

No picture available

Megan Caraway originally from southern Colorado, has been living in Fort Collins for 3 years now. She entered the MS program with an interest in the immune response in animals, particularly guinea pigs, in response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. A key question that she is interested in is do alternative delivery methods of anti-mycobacterial drugs influence treatment outcomes? Megan received her BS in Biology from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. She has been working as a Research Associate in Dr. Orme's lab for the past three years. In her free time, Megan enjoys the outdoors, especially riding her bicycle with her dog, Daisy, and reading.

Christine Graham

Christine Graham moved to Fort Collins a year ago from Denver. She has entered the MS program with her primary interests in bacteriology and vector biology, with a focus on public health. Christine earned her BA in English from Carleton College in 1998. Recently she has finished a one-year Emerging Infectious Disease Training Fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prior to that she spent 9 months in the New Orleans area rebuilding houses destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Christine loves to explore mountains and deserts, and recently had the chance to do both on trips to Moab and Grand Teton National Park. She is always looking for a great read. Recent favorites include Geraldine Brooks' A Year of Wonders (complex characters, evocative language and an infectious disease outbreak; who could ask for more?)

Stephanie Moon

Stephanie Moon moved to Fort Collins a few weeks ago from Durango. She has entered the PhD program with interests in autoimmunity, cell signaling, and translational medicine. Stephanie received her BS in Chemistry/Biology from Fort Lewis College. Recently she was working as a clinical laboratory assistant /phlebotomist. Stephanie enjoyes biking and growing a houseful of plants.

Agatha Wieczorek

Agatha Wieczorek has been living in Fort Collins for the past 5 years. Originally from Louisville, Colorado, Agatha has entered the PhD program with an interest in Mycobacteriology. She received her BS in Microbiology from CSU and has been working as a Research Associate in Dr. Dobos' Laboratory. Agatha enjoys traveling, 4-wheeling, ATV-ing, and enjoying Colorado in her spare time.

New Residents
Shannon McLeland

Shannon McLeleand is a new Anatomic Pathology Resident from Fontana, California with a research interest in feline infectious disease (FIV, FeLV) and cancer. She moved to Fort Collins on July 15 and enjoys learning more about the Fort Collins area.

Welcome New Employees
Linda Moller

Linda Moller is a new MIP Accounting Technician who came to us from CSU Human Resources Services. Linda is a native of Colorado and a graduate of CSU. She has lived in the area for the past four years and enjoys hiking, gardening, and spending time with family and friends.

Construction Zone

The morning of Aug 3rd a facilities crew began merging Microbiology Room B118 and B116C into one room. B118 will be incorporated into the department administrative complex in B116. The wall between these rooms is being taken down and the door from the B124 conference room into B118 will be removed and walled in. Please be aware that we will no longer be able to use the conference room as a pass-through from the B wing hallway to the A wing hallway.

MIP Bits

Quote of the Month

“I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.”

 ~Winston Churchill

Randy the Dork

“Sir Randy Basaraba”

Alternative captions:
  • In ye olde days, while Ian may have put the ‘Orme’ in enormous, Randy surely put the ‘cute’ in Executioner
  • Frustrated by Ian's constant harping on writing up his results for a paper, Randy decides to disprove the adage that the pen is mightier than the sword
  • What serving as Chair on the MIP Advisory Committee for a year will do to you
  • Bet you didn't know that Randy's last name was shortened from ‘Basarabarbarian’
  • Submit your own


Click Here for the questions to MIPuzzle #45
Click Here or the answers to MIPuzzle #45
MIPuzzle 45

New Online Travel Form

Save paper, save time, and ‘Be Green’ by submitting your travel documents online! Check out the new online travel form.

NIH Happenings
  • New NIH Director Named

    Francis S. Collins, best known for his efforts on deciphering the AGCT's of the human genome, has been officially named as the 16th Director of the NIH.

  • NIH funding opportunity to expand biomedical computing efforts and capabilities

    The trans-NIH Biomedical Information Science and Technology Initiative (BISTI), which funds a broad range of projects that advance computer science and technology to address problems in biology and medicine, has just been reissued. Most any area of research typically funded via NIH is eligible, but these grants require that more than 50 percent of the proposed research involve computing. For example, investigators can request funds for scientists and software personnel to develop models to analyze a disease, and they can also request funds to obtain data or perform experiments to validate the models. In all cases the majority of effort in the application should be on the computing side.

New Grant Awards

grantRandall Basaraba, "ARRA: Prevention of Oxidative Stress Decreases Persistence of Drug Tolerant M. Tuberculosis", HHS-NIH-NIAID

grantWilliam Black IV, "Yellow Fever/Dengue Virus Competence in Aedes aegypt aegypti/formosus in Senegal", HHS-NIH-NIAID

grantDean Crick, "MenA Inhibitors", Global Alliance for TB Drug Development

grantClaudia Gentry-Weeks, "Rapid Detection of Bacterial Pathogens", Colorado School of Mines

grantMary Jackson, "Mode of Action of Thiorcarlide in Mycobacterium tuberculosis", HHS-NIH-NIAID

grantMary Jackson, "Assay Development of M. tuberculosis Class II Aldolase", HHS-NIH-Neurological Disorders & Stroke

grantMary Jackson, "Targeting Persistent M. tuberculosis through Inhibition of its Aldolase", HHS-NIH-NIAID

grantAndre Ptitsyn, "Family Linkage Study of Obstructive Sleep Apnea", University of Pennsylvania

grantSandra Quackenbush, "ARRA: Walleye Dermal Sarcoma Virus Accessory Protein Function", HHS-NIH-National Cancer Institute

grantHerbert Schweizer, "Development of a Novel Lead Series Against Category A & B Bacterial Pathogens", Microbiotix, Inc.

grantHerbert Schweizer, "Genetic Tools for Acinetobacter Baumannii", CSU Ventures

grantHerbert Schweizer, "Isolation & characterization of Burkholderia pseudomallei phage", Colorado School of Mines

grantJeffrey Wilusz, "ARRA: Mechanism of Regulation of Mrna Stability", HHS-NIH-Nat Inst of General Medical Science

grantMark Zabel, "Evaluation of Water and Soil Samples from Rocky Mountain National Park for Chronic Wasting Disease Prions", DOI-National Park Service

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Classes Begin
Faculty Retreat 8-noon Hilton
26 27 28

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Faculty Seminar
Labor Day - Offices Closed
8 9 10 11
Faculty Seminar
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Faculty Seminar
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Faculty Seminar
RMRCE Annual Mtg
RMRCE Annual Mtg

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