Sheneil Black

Pharmaceutical Science

Area of Doctoral Study: Pharmaceutical Science
Undergraduate Institute: Bard College

Research Advisors: Angela Wilks, Ph.D.

Description of Research

Iron is a key micronutrient for living organisms and has been found to be linked to the virulence of pathogenic bacteria. As such, during an infection when a host sequesters iron from pathogenic bacteria, they must devise ways to acquire this nutrient. One example is pathogenic bacteria evolving to instead acquire heme, a generous source of iron in hosts.

I am working on understanding the contribution of the non-redundant heme uptake systems (Has and Phu), of the pathogenic bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and their contributions to virulence and pathogenesis. I will be combining biophysical, biochemical, isotopic labeling and bacterial genetics to determine the roles of the respective outer membrane receptors, HasR and PhuR, in extracellular heme uptake. Additionally, I am working to structurally characterize these receptors and associate function by studying them alongside modified versions in lipid nanodiscs.