I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Dr Paula Watnick’s laboratory in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) and a Research Fellow in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School (HMS).
I completed my PhD degree studying biotechnology and microbiology at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Australia. I am originally a medical doctor by training; however, I have worked extensively in biotechnology, molecular biology, protein biochemistry and microbiology fields for more than ten years on various protein/enzyme projects, including working for a biotech startup company and postgraduate training at both research masters and doctoral levels.
During my research MSc study in Dr Chris Marquis's lab at UNSW, I had worked on a redox enzyme, a NiFe-uptake hydrogenase, produced in Cupriavidus necator H16. Three parts of that project were production and purification of the hydrogenase and its immobilization on pyrolytic graphite electrode, construction and molecular characterization of a soluble hydrogenase promoter (PSH) fusion to gfp and global gene expression study (transcriptomics) in C. necator H16 grown in heterotrophic condition.
My PhD project in the Marquis lab has centered on biochemical characterization of a reductive dehalogenase (RDase), an enzyme catalyzing reductive dechlorination of polychlorinated organic compounds, which are recalcitrant environmental pollutants and, in most cases, carcinogenic. We found and characterized the anaerobic bacteria (Dehalobacter sp. UNSWDHB), that respire chloroform (CF), in a contaminated site in Sydney and identified a respiratory RDase responsible for the reaction (as termed TmrA enzyme). In first part of my project, I carried out an extensive genomic, proteomic and transcriptomic study on the bacteria, which revealed interesting insights into its respiration and key metabolic pathways. We then had undertaken a project on production, purification and biochemical characterization of a native TmrA from wild-type bacteria that had grown anaerobically for a year. A next part of my project was to heterologously express the enzyme, which had proven to be extremely challenging for past two decades in several research labs. Recently, in the lab of Prof Leys at Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB), I have carried out a visiting fellowship project to heterologously express the protein in Bacillus megaterium cells and as a result, we have successfully obtained the first recombinant respiratory RDase. Overall, my hydrogenase and dehalogenase projects at UNSW have been a fruitful experience, resulting in nine first authored papers.
My research in the Watnick laboratory focuses on understanding how enteroendocrine cells control intestinal innate immunity and lipid metabolism in response to microbiota-derived acetate using a Drosophila melanogaster as a host model . Also, I am investigating metabolism of an intestinal pathogen Vibrio cholerae and its interaction with the host intestine. My long-term goal is to obtain a tenure track position at an accredited academic institution where I will perform independent research at the interface between microbiology, immunology and metabolism to better understand and develop therapeutic solutions to common digestive, endocrine and metabolic diseases.