The Eastern PA Branch of the ASM will host the 50th Annual Symposium on Friday, November 5, 2021

“50 Year Historic Look-back and the View Ahead for Novel Diagnostics”

Preliminary Program

Moderator: Alan Evangelista, Ph.D., D(ABMM)

8:30-9:00am “50-year historic lookback at previous EPAASM symposia”, James Poupard, Ph.D., Pharma Institute of Philadelphia

9:00-9:30am “An update on the use of sepsis biomarkers including procalcitonin, C-reactive protein, and calprotectin”, Kevin J. Downes, M.D., Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

9:30-10:00am “Progression of blood culture technology: automation, direct disk testing, PCR of positives and direct molecular sequencing of blood”, Thomas Kirn, M.D., Ph.D., Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Moderator: Matthew Pettengill, Ph.D., D(ABMM)

11:15-12:00pm Case presentations using molecular diagnostics, Matthew Pettengill, Ph.D., Thomas Jefferson Univ Hospital, Laurel Glaser, M.D., Ph.D., Hospital of the Univ of Pennsylvania, Alan Evangelista, Ph.D., St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.

12:00-12:30pm Use of direct next generation sequencing for detection of clinical pathogens”, Erin H. Graf, Ph.D., D(ABMM), Mayo Clinic Arizona

12:30-1:45pm Lunch Break and Virtual Exhibit Breakout Rooms

Moderator: Laurel Glaser, M.D., Ph.D., D(ABMM)

1:45-2:15pm “Use of CSF metagenomic next generation sequencing (NGS) for direct pathogen detection for meningitis/encephalitis”, Kyle Rodino, Ph.D., D(ABMM), Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

2:15-2:45pm “Evolving epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 variants and their impact on patient outcomes, Brendan Kelly, M.D., Perelman Sch of Medicine, Univ of Pennsylvania

2:45-3:15pm “Use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the clinical microbiology laboratory”, Daniel Rhoads, M.D., Cleveland Clinic

3:15-3:30pm Closing remarks and evaluations

Virtual Exhibits by various vendors
Pre-registration by October 29, 2021: $50.00 members, $75.00 non-members
Full-registration after October 29, 2021: $75.00 members, $100.00 non-members

Register for the Meeting – click here

Program Brochure

P.S. Video recordings of the symposium will be available to all registered for the symposium approximately 1 month after the meeting

October 25, 2021 – 790th Meeting – 5pm

Georgiana Purdy, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
School of Medicine
Oregon Health & Sciences University


Laboratory of Georgiana Purdy Ph.D, OHSU

The Big Ball of Wax: The Role of MmpL Transporters in Mycobacterium tuberculosis Cell Wall Biosynthesis, Virulence and Non-replicating Persistance”

TB is a leading infectious disease that causes death despite the availability of anti-tubercular drugs. The MmpL transporters make a crucial contribution to mycobacterial physiology and pathogenesis by exporting cell wall lipids to the mycobacterial outer membrane. This talk will describe the role of the essential MmpL3 transporter in cell wall biogenesis and show the contribution of MmpL11 to virulence and non-replicating persistence.

Zoom information to be emailed to Branch members. Non-members can live stream the meeting on our YouTube channel.

Joris Beld, Ph. D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Center for Advanced Microbial Processing

Institute for Molecular Medicine & Infectious Disease
Drexel University College of Medicine

“Utilization of environmental fatty acids by bacteria”

Fatty acids are essential to most living organisms since they are the building blocks of lipids. Consisting of a carboxylic acid headgroup and a hydrophobic tail of 14-22 carbons long, they have unique properties required for membrane fluidity. Bacteria endogenously produce fatty acids by the fatty acid synthase (FAS), a complex molecular machine that uses ATP and acetyl-CoA to make fatty acids in an iterative way starting from 2 carbon units. Fatty acid biosynthesis is energy intensive, and fatty acids are used as energy storage by eukaryotes and some prokaryotes. The break-down of fatty acids through the process of beta-oxidation liberates this energy. Bacteria not only biosynthesize and break-down their own fatty acids, but also take-up and utilize environmental fatty acids. Many can use fatty acids as nutrient source, catabolize fatty acids into ATP and acetyl-CoA units, which then can be used for anabolism. However, some bacteria can utilize environmental fatty acids directly for incorporation into lipids, without the need for catabolism. This process is facilitated through the activity of an acyl-acyl carrier protein synthetase (AasS) which loads fatty acids onto the acyl carrier protein (ACP) of the FAS. By sequence, AasS resembles acyl-coenzyme A synthetases but instead of loading the small molecule CoA, it loads fatty acids onto a protein. Using a combination of unnatural fatty acid supplementation and mass spectrometry we identified an AasS in Vibrio cholerae. In vitro characterization showed that the enzyme can load diverse fatty acids on the FAS acyl carrier protein. The activity of AasS allows V. cholerae to circumvent FAS inhibition by taking up fatty acids from its environment and utilizing them directly. Synthesis of an AasS inhibitor allowed us to show this in living bacteria. Understanding how bacteria utilize environmental fatty acids is crucial, especially with several FAS-targeted antibiotics in the pipeline.

Lecture 5 to 6pm

Beld Laboratory Website

“Microbiology: Nevertheless, We Persisted”
Amy Cheng Vollmer, Isaac H. Clothier Jr. Professor of Biology, Swarthmore College

5pm – 6pm

During the past 35 years, microbiology has undergone a renaissance. In the mid 1980s, at the very time when PCR was invented and HIV was discovered, microbiology, it seemed, had fallen out of favor. Universities were replacing their departments of microbiology into departments of
molecular biology and immunology. Similarly, grant study sections were shifting focus from microbiology to molecular and cellular biology. It appeared that the glory days of microbiology were fading, and yet, we persisted. Microbiologists already realized, as early as 1977, how diverse Archaea and Bacteria were from one another. But 20 years later, eukaryotic biologists were stunned when the genome of archaeon Methanococcus (now known as Methanocaldococcus) jannaschii was published. At least one third of its genes and proteins resembled nothing in the databases for either Bacteria or Eukarya. Another decade would pass before most general biology textbooks placed the three domains and the tree of life – as we know it – into their pages. Suddenly, departments of microbiology reappeared, in medical schools, as well as schools of agriculture. Microbiologists were being hired into departments in the physical sciences: physics, chemistry, engineering, environmental sciences, geology and astronomy. Jeff Gordon and his colleagues initiated studies that led to the study of “beneficial bacteria’. As if that were not enough to put microbiology back into the headlines, the context of worldwide travel and emerging infectious agents like Ebola and coronaviruses have reinvigorated awareness about viruses and their evolution. We will look back on the past three decades, through the lens of an educator of undergraduate students, on the reemergence of microbiology into a new golden age.