Aimee Shen, Ph.D.


My laboratory studies the molecular mechanisms that regulate bacterial spore germination, the transformation of hardy spores into vegetative cells. Although germination is essential for many bacterial pathogens to disseminate, little is known about its molecular underpinnings. We are studying this remarkable developmental process in Clostridium difficile, the leading cause of nosocomial-acquired diarrhea worldwide, because the spores of C. difficile are responsible for its transmission and resistance to antibiotic treatment. Using proteomics and activity-based protein profiling, we are globally identifying germination-regulated proteins. We are also interrogating the function of these proteins using complementary genetic, biochemical, structural and cell biological approaches. Our long-term goals are to (1) create a functional map of C. difficile spore germination and (2) identify new targets for therapeutic intervention and diagnostic tests.

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