Stalking Elusive Pathogenic Bacteria: How to Dive into Cells to Treat Infections

Wednesday, December 6, 2023


This talk will focus on the significant challenges posed by bacterial pathogens that have evolved to inhabit mammalian cells, such as phagocytic macrophages. Within these intracellular safe havens bacteria, such as Mycobacterium, form a repository and are able to evade the host immune response as well as a number of antibiotic drugs. We have developed a class of molecules, cationic amphiphilic polyproline helices (CAPHs), that have a dual mode of action: non-lytic antibacterial activity with the ability to localize within mammalian cells. These agents efficiently target and kill pathogenic intracellular bacteria, including Salmonella and Brucella, within human macrophages.

Speaker Details

Dr. Jean Chmielewski

Purdue University

Jean Chmielewski completed her PhD in Bioorganic Chemistry with Ronald Breslow at Columbia University.   She joined the labs of E. T. Kaiser of Rockefeller University and, subsequently, Peter Schultz of the University of California, Berkeley for NIH postdoctoral fellowships in Chemical Biology.    After postdoctoral appointments, she was recruited to the faculty in the Chemistry Department of Purdue University in 1990 where she is now the AW Kramer Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and a faculty member in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. Chmielewski has won numerous awards for her research, including the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award and the Edward Leete Award, both from the American Chemical Society, the Agnes Fay Morgan Research Award from Iota Sigma Pi, and the Vincent du Vigneaud and Murray Goodman Awards from the American Peptide Society.  She has also been honored many times for her teaching, including the Charles R. Murphy Award the highest teaching award of Purdue University, and for her efforts in diversity, including the Stanley C. Israel Award for Advancing Diversity in the Chemical Sciences from the American Chemical Society and the Dreamer Award from Purdue. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the Teaching Academy of Purdue University.  Her research interests include the design of antibiotics that target intracellular pathogenic bacteria, the development of agents that modulate drug efflux transporters, and the design of novel biomaterials for regenerative medicine.