Research Project

Discovering Novel Antibiotics: Employing a new Approach to an Old Target

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Sudipta Mujumdar

What is your research?

I do hands-on, discovery driven research in a biochemistry lab in Weyandt Hall with Dr. Sudipta Mujumdar. We work primarily with an enzyme called alanine racemase. Graduate and undergraduate students, through our lab, are expanding research in the field by looking at new ways of understanding the function of this bacterial enzyme. This knowledge could play a critical role in future antibiotic development. I have a lot of different projects and experiments associated with this enzyme and I use an array of techniques from the fields of molecular biology, microbiology and biochemical arenas. Dr. Mujumdar works with me to explore new ideas and overall strategies that we're going to look at. Then it's my job do the experiments and interpret the data. I work with him to understand the results I get from the experiments and organize it. Together we interpret and formulate the results in a way that they can be shared with the scientific community.

Why is it important?

This enzyme (alanine racemase) is important in the cell wall formation of bacteria. If we can better understand the structure and function of this enzyme, we could develop a molecule that targets this enzyme, kills the bacteria, and acts as an antibiotic drug. This is important for several reasons:

  1. Due to the incessant evolution of antibiotic drug resistance in bacteria, our stockpile of potent antibiotics is quickly dwindling.
  2. The discovery rate of novel antibiotics has significantly declined in the last few decades.
  3. It is predicted that antibiotic resistant infections will be responsible for more annual deaths than cancer by 2050 if we do not intervene.
Arie Van Wieren Arie Van Wieren's Research