Thank you EPAASM Program Chair Vincent Tam and program committee members for an outstanding 2020-2021 program schedule. Look to this site for the 2021-2022 program schedule, to be updated soon. If you have suggestions for topics/speakers for our monthly program schedule, please contact us. Have a great summer!

September 27, 2021

Joris Beld, Ph.D., Drexel University School of Medicine, “Utilization of environmental fatty acids by bacteria”

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

Zoom link to be emailed to Branch members, non-members can live stream the program on our YouTube channel. More information to follow

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

12:30-1:15pm Lunch (included with registration)

1:15-1:45pm Exhibits and dessert

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

Registration coming soon

Program Brochure