Sue, Christopher

Christopher is a student in the Chemistry Graduate Program, where he works in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Clubb.  He joined the CMB training program in 2017.  He received a B.S. (2016) from Westmont College in Santa Barbara.

Mentor: Dr. Robert Clubb

Research project:

Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other multi-drug resistant bacteria pose a significant and growing health risk.  In the United States, antibiotic resistant bacteria cause over 2 million illnesses and over 23,000 deaths every year.  There is therefore an urgent need to discover new antibiotics.  My project seeks to elucidate the molecule mechanism through which microbes display pili that enable bacterial adhesion to host tissues and will use a recently developed cell-based assay to discover inhibitors that prevent pili and protein display.

My main focus is on sortase enzymes.  Sortases display surface proteins and pili that are virulence factors.  These virulence factors are intriguing targets as inhibition of them has been shown to inhibit bacterial infections but not kill them.  Using biochemical, structural and cellular methods, I plan to investigate how sortase enzymes assemble pili structures on microbial surfaces.  Collectively, these studies will increase our understanding of bacterial physiology and could lead to new anti-infective agents.