Faculty

  • Farooq Azam, Professor of Marine Biology, Scripps, CMBB
    Dr. Azam is a marine microbial ecologist with wide-ranging interests including microbial geochemistry, biochemical adaptations of marine bacteria, the role of bacteria in marine food webs and marine bacteriophages. His group sequenced the first marine genome, a bacteriophage, and has investigated the role of bacteria and their enzymes in degradation of marine particles. His group is studying how antibiotic production by particle-associated bacteria influence species diversity on marine particles. His group is also currently working in collaboration with TPMB member Bartlett, on an NIAID funded project to investigate colonization of marine plankton by Vibrio cholerae, a major human pathogen.
  • Katherine Barbeau, Professor of Marine Chemistry, Scripps, CMBB
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    Dr. Barbeau is a chemist interested in the geochemical cycling of bioactive trace metals in the ocean. One particular area of focus is in the cycling of iron, and how iron speciation and chemistry are modified by biological and photochemical processes. Her work has revealed the role that protistan grazers play in mobilizing iron associated with particles in marine systems, and her lab is currently investigating the role of tunicate grazers in transforming colloidal and particle-associated race elements. Other projects in the lab involve studies of iron-organic speciation and iron uptake by marine phytoplankton and bacteria, integrating chemical and biological studies to determine the factors that affect iron bioavailability. Barbeau collaborates with TPMB member Haygood on iron acquisition by the marine cyanobacterium Trichodesmium.
  • Douglas Bartlett, Professor of Marine Biology, Scripps, CMBB
    Dr. Bartlett has broad interests in marine microbiology. His group has pioneered the understanding of molecular responses to pressure in deep-sea bacteria and has also begun to investigate anaerobic methane oxidation in deep-sea environments. In addition, his group collaborates with TPMB member Azam on an NIAID funded project to study colonization of plankton by Vibrio cholerae. His group contributes fundamental knowledge of the biochemical and molecular details of adaptation to pressure as well as greater insight into the ecology of a major human pathogen.
  • Bianca Brahamsha, Research Marine Biotechnologist, Scripps, CMBB
    Dr. Brahamsha's laboratory studies the mechanism of swimming in the marine cyanobacterium, Synechococcus. This organism exhibits a unique type of prokarytic motility characterized by the ability to swim in liquids without the use of flagella. Dr. Brahamsha has developed a system for the genetic manipulation of this organism and her group is now identifying genes required for this unique type of motility and is characterizing their biochemical and biomechanical function. Dr. Brahamsha is also engaged in a collaboration with the JGI on the sequencing and annotation of the marine Synechococcus genome. She is also co-PI on a DOE project to carry out apostgenomic analysis of transport systems in this important marine primary producer. Her work is of fundamental importance in understanding the diverse ways in which bacteria sense and respond to their environment. She collaborates most commonly with TPMB member Palenik.
  • Theodore Bullock, Professor, Department of Neurosciences, Emeritus, Member of the Faculty, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, CMBB
    Dr. Bullock's laboratory studies the evolution of the nervous system and especially the processing of sensory input by the brain, in various taxa. He measures the dynamics of integrative processes in assemblies of nerve cells. Using mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and some invertebrates, the ongoing activity of the brain and the responses evoked by stimuli are recorded with multiple electrodes and wide band amplifiers for computer extraction of measures of the cooperativity of the cellular and subcellular generators. The stimulus situations often emulate those that cause cognitive events (thoughts) in human subjects. Thus, non-mammalian responses are examined that behave as though the brain segment has acquired expectations and recognizes events. Dr. Bullock's lab receives NIH funding to study "cognitive" brain events in non-mammalian species. He collaborates with foreign visiting investigators and colleagues in the UCSD School of BIOMEDICINE.
  • Ronald Burton, Professor of Marine Biology, Scripps, CMBB
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    Dr. Burton's research interests are in the areas of molecular physiology and population genetics. Much of the lab's efforts focus on the complex interplay between genetic variation and physiological diversity in Tigropus, an intertidal copepod that can be easily cultured in the lab. Current efforts focus on the coevolution of nuclear and mitochondrial genes encoding proteins acting in the mitochondrial electron transport system. Analyses of genetic variation in this system may provide insight into the functional mechanisms by which human mtDNA mutations lead to disease. Other ongoing projects include molecular investigations of osmotic response and rDNA transcription. In addition, he is investigating the genetic structure of natural populations of several commercially important sea urchin and abalone species in an effort to help plan management strategies for these important marine resources.
  • Edward A. Dennis, Professor of Chemistry and Chair, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UCSD, CMBB
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    The Dennis laboratory is focused on understanding the regulation of lipid second messengers and signal transduction processes and especially the role of various phospholipases in their generation. Special attention is paid to the cytosolic, secreted, and membrane-bound phospholipase A2s (PLA2) responsible for the control of prostaglandin and leukotriene biosynthesis in human amnionic membranes, brain astrocyte and microglial cells, and macrophage cell lines. The Dennis lab goal is to characterize and elucidate the regulatory mechanisms of the phospholipases both in vitro and in the intact cell. Scientists in the Dennis laboratory also design and synthesize chemical inhibitors of PLA2. Overall, the Dennis laboratory utilizes organic synthetic approaches, enzyme kinetics, molecular biology, site-specific mutagenesis, cell and tissue culture, and high-resolution NMR techniques as well as traditional biochemical approaches in attacking phospholipase and membrane-related problems.
  • Russell F. Doolittle, Research Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UCSD
    Dr. Doolittle is a recognized expert in the fields of organic chemistry and protein biochemistry. His current interests lie in deciphering the role of fibrinogen in blood clotting, in understanding the processes of protein evolution, in developing programs for protein and DNA sequence analysis, and in learning more of the evolution of microbial genomes. Dr. Doolittle is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and is also associated with UCSD's Center for Molecular Genetics.
  • Horst Felbeck, Professor of Marine Biology, Scripps, CMBB
    Dr. Felbeck is a physiologist and biochemist whose research revolves around the physiology of hydrothermal vent animals and their symbionts, as well as other chemoautotrophic symbioses. In these remarkable relationships, the host animal typically provides an electron donor, sulfide, and an electron acceptor, oxygen or nitrate, to bacterial symbionts, who use this energy to fix carbon dioxide to supply the food and energy needs of the host. Dr. Felbeck's group has studied all aspects of these relationships, from sulfur metabolism o respiration and carbon transfer. In several studies, genes from the symbionts of these deeps-sea animals have been cloned and expressed in E. coli. Dr. Felbeck's group is currently involved in a nearly completed project to sequence the genome of the symbiont of a hydrothermal vent tubeworm. The availability of the genome sequence will take the study of these unusual organisms to a new level.
  • William Fenical, Professor of Oceanography, Scripps, Director CMBB
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    Dr. Fenical's research interests broadly lie in developing knowledge of the biomedical resources found in the world's oceans. His specific research addresses the diversity of microbial life in the sea with particular reference to the discovery of new taxa of actinomycetes capable of the production of novel antibiotics and anti-tumor agents. Dr. Fenical is also interested in the roles of pathogenic microbes in the marine environment, and in learning how plants and animals create their apparent immunities. Dr. Fenical is PI of an NCI-funded "Natural Products National Cooperative Drug Discovery Group" (NPNCDDG) working in collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb, and is a full member of UCSD's Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Fenical's research group has collaborated with numerous laboratories on campus, including those of Drs. Taylor, Howell, and Dennis.
  • John A. Frangos, Professor of Bioengineering - UCSD, CMBB
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    Dr. Frangos' research interests are in determining how mechanical forces play a role in the normal physiology and pathology of blood vessels, bone, and muscle by using an interdisciplinary approach that involves fluid and solid mechanics, and molecular and cell biology. His interests also include research on the role of guanine-nucleotide binding proteins in mechanochemical signal transduction in endothelial cells in response to shear stress, the role of hydrodynamic forces induced by compression in stimulating bone formation, and the mechanosensing signaling pathway in cultured muscle cells in response to cyclical strain. He collaborates with TPMB member Latz.
  • Terry Gaasterland, Professor of Marine Biology and Director, Scripps Center for Marine Genomics
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    Terry Gaasterland has recently joined the Scripps faculty. By Fall 2003, she will be full-time as professor within the marine biology curricular group and as director of the new Center for Marine Genomics. In its early form, the Center is focused on the comparative annotation of genomes from marine organisms, including genomes of microbes such as Synechococcus and Shewanella, diatom genomes, and the emerging sea urchin and fugu genomes. As the Genomics Center grows over the next five years, many of the faculty associated with this Training Grant application will be members, thus we expect that bioinformatics and genomics-based marine biotechnology research will significantly expand in the very near future. Dr. Gaasterland's specific area of research involves the design of bioinformatics tools for interpreting genome sequence data and gene expression data, including the human and mouse genomes, genomes of model organisms, and microbial genomes. Her work in comparative microbial genome analysis is carried out in close collaboration with experimental biologists at Rockefeller University and Stanford University. It focuses on understanding the evolution of pathogenicity and drug resistance in Staphylococcus aureus, and understanding the environmental triggers for virulence in Vibrio cholera, a common environmental organism and a significant human pathogen. Her work in human and mouse focuses on the characterization of the control of tissue-specific gene expression and on using gene expression and genome sequence together to understand macrophage response to infection and control of B-cell maturation in the immune system.
  • Jeffrey Graham, Research Marine Biologist and Physiologist, Scripps, CMBB, Executive Director, Birch Aquarium
    Dr. Graham is a fish physiologist with interests in comparative physiology of fishes, particularly swimming and buoyancy adaptation, respiratory adaptations and cardiovascular physiology. Major topics studied in the Graham lab include evolution and physiology of air-breathing fishes, and the evolution of high-performance swimming in sharks and tunas. Heat conservation is an important adaptation of these animals and requires extensive modification of the circulatory system. These studies are carried out in a unique facility in Hawaii in which fish are exercised under controlled conditions with instrumentation. Dr. Graham's research contributes fundamental knowledge to the area of cardiovascular and respiratory physiology. His involvement with the Birch Aquarium will be a valuable asset for promoting outreach activities.
  • Margo Haygood, Professor of Marine Biology, Scripps, CMBB
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    Dr. Haygood's group investigates physiology and molecular biology of marine bacteria. One major area of interest is symbioses between bacteria and marine animals. Her lab has a strong focus on bioactive metabolite symbioses of marine invertebrates, in which bacterial symbionts produce bioactive compounds for chemical defense of their invertebrate hosts. A major effort in the lab is an NCI-funded project to clone and express the biosynthetic pathway for bryostatins, a family of promising anti-cancer compounds, from the bacterial symbionts of the source organism, a marine bryozoan. These studies can help solve the supply problem that prevents development of many marine drugs and provide access to the vast untapped diversity of marine organisms for drug development. She is also interested in siderophores and iron transport in marine bacteria, and is a member of the NSF/DOE Center for Bioinorganic Chemistry. She collaborates with TPMB member Barbeau.
  • Stephen B. Howell, Professor of Biomedicine and Director of the Cancer Pharmacology Program, School of Biomedicine, UCSD, CMBB
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    Dr. Howell is a medical oncologist who specializes in the pharmacology of anticancer drugs. He is the director of the UCSD Comprehensive Cancer Center's Pharmacology Program. Dr. Howell runs both clinical and laboratory-based research programs. His research focuses on the development of new therapeutic strategies for the treatment of cancer. This includes the preclinical and clinical testing of new drugs, the development of novel drug delivery systems, and the identification and molecular characterization of the mechanisms by which tumor cells become resistant to anti-neoplastic agents. One major focus of the research is on mechanisms of resistance to the platinum-containing anticancer drugs. Investigation in this area involves studies of the clinical, biochemical and molecular pharmacology of cisplatin, and the isolation and characterization of genes mediating resistance to this drug. A second focus is on the design and testing of novel drug delivery systems capable of targeting systemically administered drugs to the tumor with great specificity. The third major research program is focused on identification and characterization of the types of genetic lesions that favor the development of resistant to anti-cancer drugs. This involves molecular engineering cells to suppress the expression of genes involved in DNA repair, checkpoint control, and apoptosis and the assessment of how this affects the development of drug resistance in model systems.
  • Michael Latz, Research Marine Biologist and Senior Lecturer, Scripps, CMBB
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    Dr. Latz's work intertwines biophysics and phytoplankton physiology in the study of how dinoflagellates and other phytoplankton sense and respond to flow, an important environmental parameter. The most dramatic manifestation of this is flow-stimulated bioluminescence of dinoflagellates, but cells also respond morphologically and physiologically to low levels of flow characteristic of ocean turbulence. Dr. Latz has pioneered the use of defined flow fields to investigate signal transduction and response to flow in these experimentally tractable unicellular organisms. Current work in the lab is examining flow-regulated genes. This work clearly complements our understanding of the biology of flow sensitive cells from mammalian and other higher organisms. In addition, the group investigates the effect of flow on toxin production and growth of algal species, and this work may eventually contribute to improving environmental health by helping to forecast and detect harmful algal blooms. Dr. Latz's group further contributes in the area of environmental health by using the bioluminescence of brittlestars as a sensitive bioassay of metal pollution, and to investigate the link between metal accumulation in organisms and its biological toxicity. Dr. Latz collaborates with TPMB member Tebo. Dr. Latz also collaborates extensively with colleagues (Dr. Frangos) in the Bioengineering department.
  • Victor Nizet, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, School of BIOMEDICINE-UCSD, CMBB
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    Dr. Nizet's laboratory interest is in bacterial pathogenesis and the innate immune system, with a special focus on human streptococcal infections. Using a molecular genetic approach, the group seeks to discover and characterize streptococcal virulence determinants involved in cytotoxicity, adherence, invasion, inflammation and resistance to immunologic clearance. His group also investigates the contribution of host factors such as antimicrobial peptides to innate defense against invasive bacterial infection. Finally, his group is identifying genes for virulence factors in the aquaculture pathogen Streptococcus iniae, which causes meningoencephalitis in fish. Dr. Nizet and Dr. Fenical currently collaborating to discover and develop marine inhibitors of the human pathogenic Streptococcus (Group A) macrolide drug efflux pump.
  • Brian Palenik, Professor of Marine Biology, Scripps, CMBB
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    Research in Dr. Palenik's group falls into two main areas, physiological and biochemical adaptations of phytoplankton to their environment, and phytoplankton diversity and evolution. Phyto planktoncan experience stress due to lack of nutrients, or due to excesses of toxic substances such as copper. The group studies the response of the cell, particularly cell-surface proteins, induced by stresses. These proteins can be used to develop specific, high-throughput assays to assess environmental conditions experienced by phytoplankton. Dr. Palenik is expanding this area of research into genomics as co-PI on a project to characterize the genome of a marine cyanobacterium, in particular focusing on transporters for nutrients and "multidrug efflux" using microarray analysis. Dr. Palenik collaborates with TPMB member Brahamsha.
  • Paul Ponganis, Research Marine Physiologist, SIO, CMBB
    Dr. Ponganis is a physiologist whose work revolves around the adaptations of marine mammals and birds to diving. These animals are restricted to the supply of oxygen they obtain at the surface, and have to solve numerous problems to conserve, store and distribute oxygen in order to hunt at depth. Studies in Dr. Ponganis' lab measure temperature regulation and oxygen uptake and activity of various organs while animals are diving, using instrumented wild animals naturally diving in Antarctica, as well as a special laboratory facility at the Center for Marine Biotechnology and BioBIOMEDICINE. Palmer Taylor, Sandra and Monroe Trout Professor and Dean, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of BIOMEDICINE-UCSD, CMBB The Taylor laboratory is interested in the structure and function of receptors and enzymes involved in neurotransmission. The group has been studying functional coupling of receptors to cellular responses, specificity of ligand recognition by acetylcholine receptors and acetylcholinesterase, and the structures of cholinesterases and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. A second area of investigation involves the regulation of expression of the genes encoding these proteins during differentiation and synaptogenesis in neurons, skeletal muscle, and hematopoietic cells. Dr. Taylor was appointed Dean of UCSD's newly established School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
  • Bradley Tebo, Research Marine Biologist and Senior Lecturer, Scripps, CMBB
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    Dr. Tebo is a marine geo-microbiologist whose group studies biogeochemical cycling of metals in the environment. Areas of research include the physiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology of bacteria that catalyze metal transformations, and molecular mechanisms of microbial metal binding, electron transfer (redox reactions), and mineral formation. Manganese oxidation is a major focus. These studies have fundamental importance in understanding biochemical mechanisms of electron transfer, as well as practical applications for cleanup of metal pollution, since manganese oxides are major mediators of metal transformations in the environment. In addition his group studies chromium reduction. They have discovered a novel mode of metabolism in bacteria, chromium respiration. Chromium is a major toxic pollutant, and its immobilization by reduction is an important strategy for bioremediation. Dr. Tebo is a participant in UCSD's Superfund Hazardous Substances Basic Research Program grant, "Molecular Mechanisms and Models of Exposure" funded by the NIEHS. Dr. Tebo collaborates with TPMB member Latz.
  • Victor Vacquier, Professor of Marine Biology, Scripps, CMBB
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    Dr. Vacquier's group investigates the cell biology, biochemistry and molecular biology of fertilization in marine invertebrates. His group discovered extremely rapid evolution of marine invertebrate sperm proteins responsible for reproductive isolation and speciation, a major contribution in molecular evolution. Dr. Vacquier's group studies sea urchins and abalone supported by a NICHD Merit Award. His group also discovered a protein in sea urchin spermatazoa that is important in polycystic kidney disease. Work is ongoing in the lab to understand the natural role of the protein in sea urchin reproduction and development.