Rachel wins DeLill Nasser Award

Congrats to Rachel Meade who was just announced as a winner of the Genetics Society of America DeLill Nasser Award for Professional Development in Genetics for Fall 2023!

This award is given twice a year to graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. DeLill Nasser Awards support attendance at meetings and laboratory courses. Rachel will be using funds from the award to present her work at the upcoming 2024 TAGC meeting in DC

Calling all host-pathogen geneticists!

Are you a current graduate student wrapping up your thesis? Want to come and learn diverse mammalian models that can be applied to questions of pathogenesis? The Smith Lab have a fully funded postdoctoral position available to work on host-pathogen interactions. We leverage genetically diverse mice and macrophages in conjunction with new bacterial genetic technologies to understand host and pathogen factors that impact tuberculosis disease.

If you are a mammalian geneticist wanting experience in infection biology OR a bacterial/pathogenesis researcher looking to learn new mouse models please check out our publications and apply here. Please include in your cover letter what specific research projects or questions you are hoping to work on in our lab.

Join us!

2023 wrap-up

The Smith Lab had a busy and exciting 2023, highlights include:
– Summer Harris joined the lab as a research technician and mentor for our ABSL3 work in the Regional Biocontainment Lab
-Oyinda, Rachel and Clare attended and presented at the International Mammalian Genome Conference (IMGC) in Tsukuba City, Japan. Rachel took home the GSA trainee prize for outstanding presentation!
-Kaley led the collaborative paper from Smith/Olive/Coers/Sassetti labs on the differential requirements for IRGM proteins during tuberculosis infection in mice, published in Infection and Immunity
-Rachel wrapped up analysis and published a new genome-wide bacterial screen combined with the BXD mouse panel to identify new host-pathogen genetic interactions. Published in G3
-Oyinda led and wrote a new review on Mycobacterial genetic technologies for probing the host-pathogen microenvironment as part of the Special Series for Early-Career Investigators in Infection and Immunity
-Marco Gontijo and Alwyn Ecker officially joined the lab as graduate students in the MGM program and completed their training for BSL3/ABSL3 independence
-Kaley and Oyinda presented posters at the Cold Spring Harbor Pathogenesis meeting
-Marco and Alwyn presented posters and Rachel gave a flash talk at the MGM Department retreat at Wrightsville Beach, NC
-Clare was the trainee’s selected speaker at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology seminar, University of Buffalo, NY and the Department of Microbiology seminar, Michigan State University.
-Rachel presented her new work on host susceptibility loci underlying tuberculosis at the DMM meeting on “Infectious Disease though an Evolutionary Lens” in London, UK. She also received a Duke School of Medicine Biomedical PhD student Research Pilot Grant to visit Thomas Keane’s lab at EMBL-EBI in Hinxton, UK to work on a new collaborative genomics project.

Alwyn and Marco join Smith Lab

Moon-suited up and ready to go!

The Smith Lab are thrilled to welcome Marco Gontijo and Alwyn Ecker officially to the lab as grad students. They have done the high containment safety “bootcamp” and are embarking on their various projects leveraging diverse mice, macrophages and M. tuberculosis strains.  We are excited to see what they discover during their grad careers and beyond!

New Postdoctoral position available

The Smith Lab have a new fully funded postdoctoral position available to work on host-pathogen interactions underlying tuberculosis. We leverage genetically diverse mice and macrophages in conjunction with new bacterial genetic technologies to understand host and pathogen factors that impact tuberculosis disease.

If you are a mammalian geneticist wanting experience in infection biology OR a bacterial/pathogenesis researcher looking to learn new mouse models please check out our publications and apply here.

Fall rotation wrap up

The Smith Lab hosted Alwyn Ecker (MGM) and Marco Gontijo (MGM) for the Fall rotation. Alwyn worked with Dr. Kaley Wilburn to explore host genetics in a TB susceptible Collaborative Cross genotype and knockout strain. Marco worked with Dr. Oyinda Adefisayo to investigate bacterial polyketide synthase variability amongst Mycobacterial strains. During the rotation, they also worked with Rachel Meade to learn QTL mapping in R and undertook the Regional Biosafety Laboratory (RBL) high containment biosafety bootcamp for work at BSL3. In addition to their individual projects, Marco and Alwyn also jumped into help ongoing lab projects with macrophages and aerosol infections – outstanding work!

New Smith Lab collaborative preprint

Congrats To Kaley, Rachel and Emma for their work on a recent preprint describing the differential role of IRGM proteins during Tuberculosis. Check out the bioRxiv here. This was a fun and highly collaborative effort with Dr. Andrew Olive (Michigan State), Dr. Jörn Coers (Duke) and Dr. Chris Sassetti (UMASS). Great joint effort to put this together and hopefully is the first of many collaborative projects!


Smith Lab Summer wrap-up

  • Masked travel was back on the cards with Clare and Oyinda attending the NIAID Tuberculosis Research Unit (TBRU) network kick-off meeting meeting in Bethesda in June. Clare presented our work in the Mouse Core as part of the Myco3V team study Mycobacterial variation, vulnerability and virulence. The Myco3V team includes researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Branch Moody, Jacob Mayfield), Cornell (Kyu Rhee), Rockefeller (Jeremy Rock), University of Cape Town (Val Mizrahi, Digby Warner, Robin Wood) and University of Groningen (Aadrian Minnaard) . It was a great meeting to plan upcoming Myco3V projects and connect with new cross-TBRU collaborations. 
  • Oyinda also travelled to Breckenridge in Colorado and caught up with the latest in TB research at the Keystone Symposia on Tuberculosis in August. 
  • Kaley had a “summer of macrophages” where she got the ex vivo macrophage pipeline up and going in the lab and mentored undergraduate researchers on Mycobacterial and macrophage infections.
  • Rachel wrapped up a manuscript and headed to San Francisco to undertake an internship as a Summer Associate at Analysis Group’s Health Economics and Outcomes Research practice. 
  • Josh Tolliver came onboard as a new research technician. Josh completed his undergraduate degree at UNC Chapel Hill, where he also worked in the lab of Dr. Alan Jones and worked on projects including bacterial genetics and plant pathogenesis. Josh has quickly picked up new mammalian genetics skills in the lab and is going through the BSL3 bootcamp for work at high containment.
  • Paloma Garcia is a Duke undergrad that worked in the lab this summer as part of the MGM SURE fellowship. She worked under the mentorship of Dr. Kaley Wilburn to tackle questions of Mycobacterial growth in specific host genetic backgrounds. Here, Paloma learnt Mammalian cell tissue culture and bacterial aseptic techniques. Paloma also presented her project at the annual MGM retreat where she won a poster prize. Fantastic work!

Smith Lab Welcomes Two New Postdocs!

The Smith Lab is thrilled to welcome Oyindamola Adefisayo, Ph.D. and Kaley Wilburn, Ph.D. as our very first postdoctoral associates!

Oyinda joins us from the Glickman lab at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where she fully characterized the contributions of the DNA damage response pathways in mycobacteria to antibiotic resistance and mutagenesis. Kaley completed her Ph.D. in the VanderVen lab at Cornell University, where she studied how Mycobacterium tuberculosis utilizes host lipids as carbon sources during infection and sought to characterize mechanisms to leverage these pathways as antibiotic targets.

Both Kaley and Oyinda look forward to leveraging their formidable mycobacterial expertise within the context of genetically diverse hosts, combining next-generation host and bacterial approaches to reveal novel host-pathogen interactions.

Kaley Wilburn, Ph.D. (left) and Oyindamola Adefisayo, Ph.D. (right) on their first day as Smith Lab postdocs!

Early Career Researcher Spotlight on Rachel Meade

Interested in a career in genetics, bioinformatics or infectious disease research? Check out this Early Career Scientist Leadership Spotlight from the Genetics Society of America (GSA) on Smith Lab PhD candidate Rachel Meade as she chats about her work on Mycobacterium tuberculosis, genetically diverse mice and gives perspectives on career options and advancing open science. Nicely done Rachel!