Featured Trainees are students, postdoctoral fellows, practicing physicians and faculty, and others who work under the tutelage of Levy CIMAR Core Faculty members and who stand out for their efforts in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. Trainees might be graduate students, antimicrobial stewards, educators, scientific researchers, medical doctors, veterinarians, pharmacists, or a combination of any of these and other professions. If you are a Levy CIMAR Core Faculty member and would like to nominate someone for “Featured Trainee” distinction, please email us any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fall 2021 Featured Trainee:
Kathleen Davis, PhD
- Postdoctoral Scholar in the Bree Aldridge Lab, working with Drs. Aldridge and TMC’s Roberto Viau Colindres on adapting drug combination testing of clinical isolates
- Working to identify antibiotic and small molecule combinations that function against problematic community and hospital-acquired pathogens in a multi-institution collaboration through the Center for Innovation to Transform Antibiotic Discovery (CITADel)
Kathleen Davis is a second-year postdoctoral scholar in the Bree Aldridge Lab at Tufts University’s School of Medicine. She is working to develop a method of in-vitro testing of drug regimens on bacterial pathogen clinical isolates from Tufts Medical Center patients with severe infections. The goal of this collaborative project, which is funded by a Levy CIMAR pilot grant awarded to the Aldridge Lab and the Levy CIMAR’s Roberto Viau Colindres, MD, of the medical center, is to design in-vitro testing methodology to help choose more effective regimens for serious infections. In addition, Kathleen is working in collaboration with other university labs and biotech companies, through the multi-institution Center for Innovation to Transform Antibiotic Discovery (CITADel), on identifying small molecules that can be used in combination with antibiotics to restore or improve the activity of those antibiotics against community and hospital-acquired bacterial infections.
Identification of treatment regimens for bacterial infections is often based in part on an antibiogram, which indicates whether a pathogen cultured on standard laboratory growth medium is sensitive, resistant or intermediate resistant to a particular antibiotic. Treatment with that antibiotic is not always effective, and often multiple antibiotics are needed to treat serious bacterial infections, which cannot be effectively tested in combination using an antibiogram. Kathleen is exploring the use of diagonal measurement of n-way drug interactions (DiaMOND) to speedily test regimens on clinical isolates. DiaMOND is a methodology developed by the Aldridge Lab to measure the information-rich diagonal of a standard checkerboard assay, allowing higher-throughput measurement of drug combinations. Prior to DiaMOND, scientists’ understanding of high-order drug interactions was limited because of the lack of both efficient measurement methods and theoretical framework for analysis and interpretation. (You can learn more about DiaMOND here).
Increasing drug resistance against many antibiotics is a major problem for treating serious bacterial infections, particularly those that are hospital-acquired. As part of a project through CITADel, Kathleen is working to identify small molecules which restore or improve the activity of antibiotics against problematic bacterial pathogens including Acinetobacter baumannii and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Kathleen is using DiaMOND to efficiently measure how well antibiotic plus small molecule pairs function against a variety of clinical isolates in multiple growth conditions to mimic the range of stressors experienced by the bacteria during real-life infection. The team is working to bring some combinations to early clinical trials.
Prior to joining the Aldridge Lab, Kathleen earned her PhD in the Dr. Alan Grossman Lab at MIT’s Department of Biology. There, she studied exclusion, a method by which some genetic elements prevent their host bacterial cells from receiving a second identical copy of the element from a would-be donor bacterial cell. Exclusion often involves a protein encoded by the genetic element that recognizes and inhibits the transfer machinery encoded by the identical element in the would-be donor cell. This transfer machinery (known as a conjugation system) can also move other genetic material into a would-be recipient cell, including antibiotic resistance genes. Thus, exclusion plays an important role in controlling the spread of antibiotic resistance among bacterial populations via a type of horizontal gene transfer known as conjugation. Kathleen studied exclusion in the genetic element ICEBs1 in Bacillus subtilis, and identified the target protein ConG recognized by the exclusion protein YddJ. Kathleen also identified portions of both proteins key for specific recognition, which allows YddJ to only exclude conjugation machinery encoded by ICEBs1 and not closely related elements.
When not working in the lab, Kathleen loves to get outside. She spends much of her free time exploring mountains, canyons, rocky coastlines, and tide pools. She also enjoys hiking, backpacking, biking, and kayaking.
Meet all of the Levy CIMAR's Featured Trainees:
Kathleen Davis, PhD, Postdoctoral Scholar Working on Adapting Drug Combination Testing of Clinical Isolates
Postdoctoral Scholar working to identify antibiotic and small molecule combinations that function against problematic community and hospital-acquired pathogens; Working on adapting drug combination testing of clinical isolates
Shailab Shrestha, MERGE-ID Ph.D. Candidate and Recipient of the Tufts GSBS Fellowship For International Students
PhD Candidate in Molecular Microbiology, MERGE-ID (Medically-oriented Research in Graduate Education – Infectious Disease) track at Tufts University’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; Inaugural Recipient, Tufts University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Fellowship Supporting International Student Education, 2018
Infection Prevention Coordinator and Infectious Diseases Clinic Medical Scribe at Tufts Medical Center; Research contributor and co-author with the Levy CIMAR’s Drs. Maya Nadimpalli and Shira Doron: “Antibiotic Resistance: A Call to Action to Prevent the Next Epidemic of Inequality,” in Nature Medicine (2021)
Undergraduate Researcher at Tufts Medical Center working with the Levy CIMAR’s Dr. Shira Doron; Co-teacher in the PARE (Prevalence of Antibiotic Resistance in the Environment) program’s short course, PARE-Seq, under the guidance of the Levy CIMAR’s Drs. Carol Bascom-Slack and Amy Pickering
Second-Year Graduate Student pursuing a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) at the Cummings School; Winner, Basic Science Award at the 2020 Tufts Vet Summer Research Training Program
Software Developer working with the Levy CIMAR on our Cutter and DiaMOND research and analytics tools; Masters student studying International Business at the Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
2019 American Society of Microbiology (ASM) Capstone Fellowship awardee and PhD Candidate in Molecular Microbiology – MERGE-ID (Medically-oriented Research in Graduate Education - Infectious Disease) track at Tufts University’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
Laidlaw Scholar working with CIMAR’s Drs. Amy Pickering and Carol Bascom-Slack to incorporate molecular methods into the PARE (Prevalence of Antibiotic Resistance in the Environment) project
Postdoctoral Fellow, Pickering Lab, Tufts University School of Engineering; Recipient: National Science Foundation Fellowship titled, “Transfer of Antimicrobial Resistance Genes betwee
Attending physician, Division of Geographic Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Tufts Medical Center; Assistant Professor of Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine; Inaugural LEAP Fellow for 2018-2019