Blueprint for the Future—Dr. David Wood, Dr. Mary Burtnick, Dr. Jonathon Audia and
Dr. Paul Brett,make plans to develop a new biosafety lab with the NIH award.


January 21, 2016  Med School Watercooler:  9th Annual COM Research Forum Winners Announced

Dr. Qusai Al Abdallah and Tiffany Norton (post doc and graduate student in Dr. Fortwendel's lab) were travel award winners when the University of South Alabama College of Medicine hosted its 9th annual Research Forum on Dec. 4, 2015.


November 4, 2015  Med School Watercooler:  Department of Defense Awards DxDiscovery Inc. and USA College of Medicine $1M for Research

This award will enable Dr. Mary Burtnick and Dr. Paul Brett to assess the protective capacity of several carbohydrate-specific monoclonal antibodies that have recently been generated in collaboration with DxDiscovery.


July 29, 2015 Med School Watercooler:  Dr. Barrington Receives Grant Award from American Lung Association

Dr. Robert Barrington, Assistant Professor in the department of Microbiology and Immunology, was recently awarded a two-year research grant totaling $80,000 from the American Lung Association.


June 4, 2015 Med School Watercooler:  Patricia Couling Retirement Reception

Patricia Couling retires after 23 years of service.


June 2, 2015 Tiffany Norton, who recently was awarded a travel grant from the American Society for Microbiology, presented her poster at this year's ASM 115th General Meeting in New Orleans, May 30 - June 2, 2015.  Tiffany won an Outstanding Student Poster Award for her poster titled "The Aspergillus fumigatus farnesyltransferase beta-subunit, Ram 1, regulates Ras protein localization, conidial viability, and intifungal susceptibility.  The poster can be viewed in the hallway of the Microbiology Department.


April 28, 2015 MedSchool Watercooler: Basic Medical Science Graduate Student in Dr. Jarrod Fortwendel's laboratory Tiffany Norton Awarded American Society for Microbiology Travel Grant

Tiffany Norton, a basic medical science student at the University of South Alabama, recently was awarded a grant from the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). The grant will be used to assist with travel funds to this year's 2015 ASM general meeting in New Orleans.


April 23, 2015 MedSchool Watercooler: USA Graduate Student Andrew Ferretti to Present at Upcoming AAI Meeting


March 17, 2015  Tiffany S. Norton, a Basic Medical Science Graduate Student in Dr. Jarrod Fortwendel's laboratory, won the Novozymes Student Poster Prize on March 17, 2015 at The Twelfth International Aspergillus Meeting. The meeting is being held at the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, California. There were 100 posters presented by some very talented students and postdocs.

89. *The Aspergillus fumigatus farnesyltransferase beta-subunit, Ram1, regulates Ras protein localization, conidial viability and antifungal susceptibility.

Tiffany S. Norton, Rachel V. Lovingood, Qusai Al Abdallah, Jarrod R. Fortwendel.

University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL.

Post-translational prenylation mechanisms, including farnesylation and geranylgeranylation, mediate both subcellular localization and protein-protein interaction in eukaryotes. The farnesyltransferase (FT) enzyme complex is composed of two subunits: the alpha-subunit, an essential protein shared with the geranylgeranyltransferase complex; and a beta-subunit, termed Ram1. FT activity is an important mediator of Ras pathway signaling via control of Ras protein localization. Our previous data show that A. fumigatus RasA localizes primarily to the plasma membrane where it functions in processes controlling morphogenesis and virulence. However, the importance of FT activity to Ras protein function, filamentous fungal growth, and A. fumigatus virulence is currently unknown. To explore this, we generated an A. fumigatus deletion mutant lacking the FT beta-subunit (ram1KO). Conidial germination rate was reduced in the ram1KO mutant, with a concomitant reduction in conidial viability of 45%. Although no polarity defects of hyphae were apparent, the ram1KO mutant displayed reduced radial growth rate, an average increase in hyphal width of 26%, and altered nuclear positioning in growing hyphae. Furthermore, loss of ram1 resulted in resistance to triazole antifungal drugs such as voriconazole. Complementation of the ram1KO mutant with the ram1 gene (ram1KO+ram1) restored the wild-type phenotype for each of these processes. To define molecular mechanisms for Ram1-mediated processes, we generated strains expressing GFP-RasA in the ram1KO genetic background. The absence of ram1 resulted in mislocalization of RasA from the plasma membrane. Interestingly, mutation of RasA to enhance selectivity for geranylgeranylation as an alternative membrane targeting mechanism in the absence of Ram1 restored RasA plasma membrane localization but not radial growth. These data suggest that Ras-independent mechanisms are at least partially responsible for phenotypes exhibited by the ram1KO mutant. Together, these data point to a crucial role for the Ram1 farnesyltransferase in mediating A. fumigatus growth and antifungal susceptibility.


March 2, 2015, Dr. Robert Barrington was awarded an Early Career Faculty Travel Grant to attend the 2015 American Association of Immunologist [AAI] annual meeting.


March 2, 2015, Ph.D. candidate Andrew Ferretti, 4th year graduate student in Dr. Robert Barrington’s laboratory, had his work selected for an oral presentation at the IMMUNOLOGY 2015TM  meeting. In addition, Andrew received a 2015 AAI Trainee Abstract Award to support his participation at the meeting.


Dr. Paul Brett Awarded $1.7 million by DTRA

April 21, 2014, Dr. Paul Brett, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, was recently awarded $1,728,535 by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) for his research involving biodefense and emerging infectious diseases. The award will cover a three-year study period.

According to Dr. Brett, the award will enable his lab to characterize the protective capacity of several promising vaccine candidates that they have developed for immunization against diseases caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei and Burkholderia mallei, the causative agents of melioidosis and glanders.


Dr. David O. Wood to Present at International Conference of Biocontainment Facilities

March 12, 2014, Dr. David Wood, professor and chair of the department of microbiology and immunology at the USA College of Medicine, will give a presentation at the 2014 International Conference of Biocontainment Facilities on April 10, 2014.


Dr. Fortwendel Awarded NIH Grant

March 5, 2014, Dr. Jarrod Fortwendel, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently was awarded a five-year research grant by the National Institutes of Health. The grant award totals $1,513,250.


USA Professor Co-Authors New Edition of Microbiology Textbook, “Microbiology: An Evolving Science” - Dr. John W. Foster -January 13, 2014


 Dr. Paul Brett, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, was presented with two certificates of merit in recognition of best poster presentations at the 7th World Melioidosis Congress (WMC). 


Dr. Audia Launches Interactive Biology Program at St. Luke's - September 25, 2013

Med School Watercooler Story and link to additional pictures


Lions Club International Foundation Grant Awarded to Vision Scientists - Lions/USA Eye Research Institute - August 28, 2013


USA 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Terrence Tumpey, Ph.D.


Distinguished Alumni Award

Dr. Terrence Tumpey has established himself as a world-renowned expert on one of mankind's most devastating pathogens - the influenza virus. Under high biosafety levels, Dr. Tumpey examines the genetic requirements that determine how influenza adapts to different hosts and can be spread from one host to another.for example, from birds to humans. He traveled to Vietnam during the initial stages of the bird flu outbreak to isolate and subsequently analyze highly pathogenic influenza virus from poultry flocks.

Dr. Tumpey reconstructed the pandemic Spanish Influenza Virus that caused- the 1918 epidemic. This accomplishment provided insight into what genes made this virus so deadly, and it brought Dr. Tumpey international recognition and established his laboratory as a leader in influenza research.

His account of this research, published in Science, was honored with the Lancet Award, which recognized it as the top scientific paper of 2005. He has also received the 2006 and 2008 Shepard Award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for Ou tstanding Research Papers.

Dr. Tumpey, who earned his bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, received his Ph.D. from the University of South Alabama in 1997, working in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Lausch in the department of microbiology and immunology. His outstanding doctoral work examining herpes infection 01 the eye and the host immune response to infection led to the awarding of an American Society for Microbiology Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. He went on to nold positions at the University of Georgia and the Southeast Poultry Research Lab in Athens, Ga.

Since 2003, Dr. Tumpey has been with the CDC and is currently a microbiologist and team leader of pathogenesis, within the Immunology and Pathogenesis Branch. His research on pathogenesis . and immunity during the last 22 years is documented in 153 total peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Tumpey was appointed to the Editorial board of the Journal of Virology in 2006 and in 2007 was inducted into the University of Minnesota, Duluth Academy of Science and Engineering.

He and his wife, Abbigail, have two sons, Blake and Pierce.

NIH Award Receives Campus Media Attention

 NIH Awards USA $14.5 Million Grant (The Vanguard) (PDF)

USA Scientists Awarded $14.5 Million for Infectious Disease Research Lab (Midweek Memo) (PDF)

USA Medicine : Volume 3, Issue 3, Summer 2006 (PDF) page 11

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