• Name: Ken Cornell, Ph.D.
  • Institution: Boise State University
  • Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry
  • Phone: 208-426-5429
  • Email: kencornell@boisestate.edu

Summary: Research in my lab is focused on the development of novel antibiotics to treat bacterial and parasite infectious diseases. We use a combination of in silico screening and rational drug design to create new antibiotics against enzymes in pathogen methionine and purine salvage pathways. We further study the effects of these drugs by determining their dissociation kinetics, effect on microbial growth and biofilms, virulence factor expression, and synergistic impact on traditional antibiotics. The primary pathogens we study include E. coli 0157:H7, Borrelia burgdorferi, Giardia intestinalis, and Trichomonas vaginalis.

Minimum Classes: No minimum classes, but it would be helpful if the student had previously taken general chemistry and microbiology.

Projects: Prior work in my lab has shown that inhibitors of bacterial MTA nucleosidase (MTN) influence the expression and activity of metabolic enzymes and virulence factors. These summer research projects will appeal to students who have an interest in infectious disease and antibiotic development. Several possible summer projects are: 1. Analysis of antimicrobial activity of anti-MTN drugs against parasites and bacteria. These studies will include an examination of the ability of anti-MTN drugs to directly kill pathogens, as well as to interfere with autoinducer-2 and biofilm formation. The ability of the drugs to bind and inhibit recombinant enzymes will also be measured. 2. Analysis of MTN inhibition on metabolic enzyme activity and virulence factor production. These studies will involve treating pathogens with MTN inhibitors and then testing the effect on a variety of enzyme assays utilizing spectroscopic techniques, and ELISA assays for bacterial proteins involved adherence to host cells and extracellular matrix. 3. Analysis of expression patterns of methionine salvage pathway enzymes. Enzyme activities will be analyzed using spectrophotometric assays, immunoblot analysis, and real-time PCR to examine how the pathway is regulated during growth, biofilm formation, and nutrient starvation.

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