• Name: Jamee Nixon, Ph.D.
  • Institution: Northwest Nazarene University
  • Department: Biology
  • Phone: 208-467-8677
  • Email: nixon@nnu.edu

Summary:

Dr. Nixon is interested in two areas with an emphasis on the human immune system and microbiology.The first area focuses on innate immunity and is a collaborative project with Drs. Dennis Steven and Amy Bryant.  Current work is directed at the human monocyte response to methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) treated with sub-inhibitory doses of beta- lactam drugs and protein synthesis inhibitory drugs.  As the surface of the bacterial cell will direct the initial immune response, altering the surface of bacteria with sub-inhibitory antibiotics could alter the immune response.  The antibiotic-treated bacteria are used to stimulate human monocyte cells and the innate immune response measured through cytokine secretion by monocytes and the ending viability of the monocytes.  Future work will involve expanding the project to include other Gram positive bacteria including group A streptococcus.

The second area is also a collaborative project with Drs. Strohmeyer and Chase at NNU.  We are in the process of developing an undergraduate summer research and school year course curriculum around the Human Microbiome Project (NIH- http://www.hmpdacc.org/). This project seeks to teach students to use sophisticated bioinformatics tools to assemble and annotate genomes from bacteria found on the human body and in other animals. Students will learn to form hypotheses from this data and test them through experimentation to support or refute results obtained from genome annotation.


Minimum Classes:
General Biology, Microbiology lecture and laboratory courses, Genetics is also preferred.

Projects:

Project 1 – Students will maintain tissue culture cells.  These cells will be stimulated with UV-killed antibiotic treated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or LPS.  RNA will be extracted from these cells or supernatants from the stimulation will be collected.  The RNA will be transcribed to cDNA and PCR will be used to analyze cytokine transcripts.  Supernatants will be assessed for secreted cytokines by ELISA.
Project 2 – Students will be assigned a sequenced genome to assemble and annotate. This will require students to learn to use sequence assembly and annotation software. Students will learn to annotate biochemical pathways of interest and then generate testable hypotheses. Students will then design appropriate microbiological experiments that will refute or help support their in silco hypotheses.
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