EPIC: At the forefront of biomedical research on eukaryotic pathogens

EPIC: At the forefront of biomedical research on eukaryotic pathogens

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Eukaryotic pathogens cause some of the most devastating and intractable diseases in humans, including malaria, amoebic dysentery, sleeping sickness, Chagas disease and fungal meningitis. Globalization has increased such infections in the U.S. Many eukaryotic pathogens are classified as bioterrorism agents and/or neglected tropical diseases.

Clemson University’s Eukaryotic Pathogens Innovation Center — EPIC — is an interdisciplinary research cooperative founded in 2013 that is at the forefront of biomedical research on these devastating pathogens.

EPIC scientists have a lengthy track record of major contributions in this globally important area of research.

EPIC News Bites

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Students Presenting at 9th Annual NISBRE Conference

Four EPIC graduate students are excited to attend the 9th Biennial National IDeA Symposium of Biomedical Research Excellence (NISBRE) at the Washington Hilton on June 16-19. The NISBRE conference showcases the accomplishments of the IDeA program, which supports scientific centers of excellence and trains biomedical scientists in IDeA-eligible states. Attendees will have the opportunity to listen to high-level scientific presentations and to participate in poster sessions, discussion forums, and workshops designed to develop new scientific and career skills. This event provides an excellent opportunity for networking, collaboration, and interaction with NIH staff. The following students will be presenting:
Victoria Murphey: Assessing an actin binding protein, thymosin beta-4, as a novel treatment for Acanthamoeba keratitis
Claudia Gonzalez: Investigating Initiation of Encystation in The Intestinal Parasite Entamoeba histolytica
Arohi Singhal: Unravelling Cryptococcus neoformans Metabolic Adaptations: Implications for Therapeutic Targets
Jack Talledo: Investigating the role of chitin synthases 1 and 2 in encystation in the human pathogen Entamoeba histolytica

EPIC, Seifert Scholars, and MEnTOR logos

Exciting New Additions to Our Labs This Summer

We are thrilled to announce the arrival of new students joining the Eukaryotic Pathogens Innovation Center (EPIC) research labs this summer through two prestigious programs: the Seifert Scholars and MEnTOR.

The Seifert Scholars program will welcome seven new students who will contribute to our ongoing research projects. These talented individuals will not only enhance our summer initiatives but will also continue their work with us through the Fall and Spring semesters, ensuring a continuous and impactful presence in our labs.

Additionally, MEnTOR will host three new students this summer. These students come to us from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Greenville and are set to make significant contributions to our research endeavors during their time with us.

We are excited about the fresh perspectives and innovative ideas that these students will bring to our research community. Their involvement will undoubtedly enrich our programs and drive forward EPIC’s mission of scientific discovery and excellence

Dr. Manuel Fierro

EPIC Welcomes New Faculty Member

We are excited to welcome Dr. Manuel Fierro to EPIC. Dr. Fierro, currently a post-doctoral researcher with Dr. Josh Beck in the Roy J. Carver Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology at Iowa State University, will be joining the Department of Genetics and Biochemistry as an assistant professor. His research has been focused on characterizing the essential protein trafficking machinery in Plasmodium, a genus of parasites that cause malaria in humans. His innovative molecular tools are opening new avenues for understanding the intricate mechanisms behind protein export recognition in eukaryotic pathogens.
We look forward to Dr. Fierro joining us next October.

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Two EPIC Members Receive URSAAA Awards

The University Research, Scholarship and Artistic Achievement Awards (URSAAA) were established in 2018 to celebrate the exceptional accomplishments of Clemson University faculty members. Among the Class of 2024 URSAAA recipients are two distinguished leaders from the EPIC, Dr. Jim Morris and Dr. Bruce Rafert. They join two other EPIC members who were inducted into URSAAA in the inaugural 2018 year, Dr. Lesly Temesvari and Dr. Kerry Smith.

The URSAAA Awards serve as a platform to acknowledge and commend the rare career milestones achieved by Clemson University faculty members. Dr. Morris and Dr. Rafert’s commitment to excellence is truly commendable, and their recognition as URSAAA recipients is a testament to their outstanding achievements.

Please join us in congratulating Jim and Bruce on this well-deserved honor!

Headshot of Andrew Jezewski

EPIC Welcomes New Faculty Member

We are delighted to welcome Dr. Andrew Jezewski to EPIC. Dr. Jezewski, currently a postdoctoral fellow in Damian Krysan’s Lab in the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics at the University of Iowa, brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the field of eukaryotic pathogens. He will be joining the Department of Genetics and Biochemistry as an assistant professor. For more information, please see https://grad.uiowa.edu/news/2024/05/postdoc-examines-impact-fungal-priority-pathogen-cryptococcus.

We are excited to have Dr. Jezewski start his lab at Clemson in January 2025.

Headshot of Arohi Singhal

Arohi Singhal Wins Clemson’s iGRADS Competition

Arohi Singhal, PhD student in Kerry Smith’s lab, won Clemson’s iGRADS competition! In addition, she also received the People’s Choice Award. Congratulations Arohi!

The aim of the iGRADS competition is to help graduate students effectively communicate their research to a lay audience. Students create a 3-4 minute video that presents their research in an engaging way through the use of videos and creative elements. This is part of the Clemson University Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS), which showcases the innovative and outstanding research being done by graduate students across all of Clemson’s colleges.

Watch on Youtube

Headshot of Bruce Rafert

EPIC Researcher Accepted into Fulbright Specialist Program

Dr. Bruce Rafert has received notification that his application to join the Fulbright Specialist Roster has been approved. While serving as Director of EPIC Initiatives (EPIC: Eukaryotic Pathogens Innovation Center) he has maintained his research in hyperspectral imaging and is now planning to use various remote sensing technologies to look at eukaryotic pathogens through microscopes, rather than at space objects through large telescopes or the surface of the earth from satellites whose instruments he helped design.

Read more

Headshot of Emma Chin

Undergraduate Student Emma Chin Receives Two Student Awards

Emma Chin, an undergraduate student in the Stamatikos lab, received the 2023-2024 CAFLS Blue Key Academic & Leadership award, as well as the Human Nutrition Outstanding Senior Award in 2024. Congratulations, Emma!

Headshot of Melanie Key

Melanie Key Successfully Defends Dissertation

On Friday April 5, 2024, Melanie Key, a graduate student in the Dou lab, successfully defended her PhD dissertation entitled “Exploring A Novel Nutrient Acquisition Mechanism Used to Obtain Host-Derived Glycolytic Metabolites for Energy Metabolism in Toxoplasma gondii.” Congratulations, Dr. Key!

Headshot of Alexis Stamatikos

Alexis Stamatikos Receives Award from Clemson University Division of Research

Dr. Alexis Stamatikos has been awarded an $84,426 Research Faculty and Postdoctoral Research Support Grant (Clemson Research Fellows) R-Initiatives Award from the Clemson University Division of Research. “CU FELLOWS: Controlling ABC-transporter overexpression: the final frontier in atherosclerosis research” is expected to run from June 1, 2024 to May 31, 2026. Congratulations, Dr. Stamatikos!

Questions?

For further information about the EPIC please contact us.

864-656-EPIC or clemson_epic@clemson.edu