Student to Student: Antibiotic resistant bacteria

By Kaylee Steiner

Jaime Huynh, RIT Student

Kaylee Steiner is a 4th year Biotechnology and Molecular Bioscience major at RIT and her mentor/advisor is Dr. André Hudson.

The rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria has led to increased bacterial infections that are resistant to clinically relevant antibiotics. The rate of discovery and development of antibiotics has decreased significantly due to several factors including; the lack of novel enzymatic pathways (targets). “Slow”-growing bacteria are potential antibiotic producers and can be difficult to isolate on rich media due to competition from “fast”-growing bacteria. The focus of my research involves isolating bacteria using a unique growth medium from aquatic environments to assess the potential for antibiotic/antimicrobial production.

The genomes of isolated bacteria were sequenced to facilitate the identification potential gene clusters involved with secondary metabolite biosynthesis. The prediction of pathways does not with synthesis, as such, organic compounds were isolated from the bacteria and these compounds were evaluated for antibiotic properties. To date, I have identified 5 bacteria that exhibit antimicrobial properties, including one strain that is the first slow-growing aquatic Pseudomonas strain which produces antimicrobial compounds.

How did you come to study Biotechnology and Molecular Bioscience at RIT?

I initially applied to colleges for Biochemistry, however, during the end of my senior year, I found that I was more interested in Molecular Biology. I attended the College and Careers program at RIT the summer before my first year and I learned about the Biotechnology program. I realized the Biotechnology program is more closely aligned with my interests.

You are researching antibiotic resistant bacteria. How did you become interested in this topic?

Because of my interests in Molecular Biology and Chemistry, I became interested in developing new medicines and technologies to improve human health. My research is directly applicable in helping me be prepared to work in industry. I also completed a 10-week summer research experience at Moffitt Cancer Center working in a tumor immunology lab studying the effects of an alternative drug to treat metastatic prostate cancer, which solidified my research interests in pharmacology and drug discovery.

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