“We don’t have that one drug, that silver bullet, that conquers most infections anymore,” says Associate Chemistry Professor Monika Konaklieva. “Drug-resistant microorganisms are a global problem. Hospitals spend billions of dollars to treat infections caused by resistant bacteria. We desperately need new strategies, new drugs to combat them.”
This cause occupies Konaklieva’s time and research. Along with a team of students, she works on developing enzyme inhibitors that will prohibit or kill resistant bacteria. The ultimate goal: to create a foundation for a new type of drug that can treat the patients of tomorrow.
Currently, her lab is developing an inhibitor that would disrupt the life cycle of Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, a bacteria that causes meningitis and other diseases. This research is being conducted in conjunction with the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Providing Cutting-Edge Research Experience
Graduates students test different compounds against enzymes to see which are most successful. They perform research on the latest instruments, including an MW (microwave), CEM Copropation mini-reactor to synthesize organic compounds, NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance), and LCMS (Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry). Konaklieva says, “Our students tackle complex research problems and develop creative approaches that translate into job offers or opportunities to purse PhD programs.”