October 2017 Meeting

Speaker: Robert (Bob) Ernst, Ph.D., University of Maryland – Baltimore

Topic: Structure Matters: Engineering Bacteria to Benefit the Host

Date: Monday, October 16, 2017

Time: 6:15 pm Dinner, 7:15 pm: Presentation

Location: Shimadzu Scientific Instrument, Inc. Training Center 7100 Riverwood Drive, Columbia, MD 21046 (Directions)

Dinner: Please RSVP to Stefani Thomas (sthoma92@jhmi.edu) if you will be attending the dinner.

Abstract: The innate immune system is the first line of defense, protecting a host from infection. Pathogens are detected by pattern recognition receptors on host cells that recognize structures that are broadly shared by pathogens. These bacterial patterns represent a “bar code” with diagnostic potential as they instruct the host on the level of danger of the invading organism and how to respond appropriately. These signatures are unique and are readily discernible by mass spectrometry. Inappropriate or adverse responses to bacterial signatures can have lethal consequences for the host. To reprogram the host response to specific bacterial signatures, we developed a method to rapidly generate rationally designed, functionally diverse structures in the bacterial surface molecule lipopolysaccharide (LPS, endotoxin), specifically the membrane anchor region, lipid A. These modified structures can be used to improve the efficiency of future vaccines as adjuvants or inhibit the harmful response of the body’s immune system to sepsis, a lethal blood-borne microbial infection. This will ultimate lead to improvements in patient outcomes and reduced financial burden on the health care system.