2021 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant and 2022 Cohort Lead

Home Department: Undeclared
Mentor: Paul Bollyky (Medicine - Infectious Diseases and Microbiology & Immunology)

2021 Research Project: “Measuring Antibiotic Diffusion in Phage Liquid Crystals”

Pf bacteriophages organize Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Pa) biofilm polymers into crystalline, higher order structures. Pa biofilms that produce Pf phages are very resistant to antibiotic treatment, making these infections extremely difficult to treat. The Bollyky lab hypothesizes that Pf phages alter the electrical currents within biofilms, which would contribute to delayed wound healing in Pa infections. Tony is visualizing the crystalline structures formed by Pf using light microscopy and using an electrical resistance system to better elucidate how the Pf phage influences Pa biofilms and wound infections.

2022 Research Project: “Capitalizing on Bacteriophage / Antibiotic Synergy to Treat Lung Infections”

Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Pa) lung infections remain a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Pa produces biofilms and hinders the penetration of inhaled antibiotics. Novel therapeutic approaches are needed to defeat antibiotic resistance in CF lung infections. Bacteriophage, viruses that kill bacteria, are used in cutting edge therapies for treating chronic lung infections. The Bollyky lab finds that phage OMKO1 acts synergistically with commonly used antibiotics against Pa infections. However, the mechanism by which OMKO1 penetrates biofilms and positively influences the activity of antibiotics is unknown. They will explore and understand the mechanism of OMKO1 enhanced antibiotic penetration of sputum biofilms in pursuit of novel therapeutic approaches to drug resistant lung infections.