October 1, 2020

Happy Fall from the Rollins-Smith Lab!

We hope everyone is enjoying this nice break from the heat as we have now officially entered the fall season and all things pumpkin spice.  We know everyone loves to hate on pumpkin spice, but it’s a necessary evil this time of year.  So love it or hate it, it will forever embody cool temperatures, falling leaves, flannel shirts, and the fact that everything is going to be orange for the next 2 months.

In light of this, I highly recommend that you grab yourself a pumpkin spice latte and find yourself a cozy fire pit because we have a fabulous new publication that you’re gonna want to read. Not only do I think it is of extreme interest but it’s also especially relevant in this day and age.

Antibiotics publication 

This study examined the effect of amphibian-derived antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) on bacteria commonly found in the human vagina. Previous studies with these AMPs have shown them to inhibit in vitro transmission of HIV.  In order to consider them as a prophylaxis, it was critical to test the effect they may have on the normal microbial community within the vagina.  Furthermore, we also tested these AMPs for growth inhibition against a relative of the bacteria that causes the STD gonorrhea.  Check out the link to the article; the results are very exciting!

This publication is also meaningful because most of the research was conducted by three talented young women who recently worked in the Rollins-Smith Lab…..two of whom were in high school at the time. 

Dr. Patricia Smith is a graduate from Vanderbilt University who spent several years working in research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center after she completed her Bachelor’s degree.  She worked tirelessly on experiments to test the effects of caerin 1 peptides on lactobacillus growth and tackled much of the troubleshooting to ensure the data were sound. She went on to attend the University of TN Health Science Center College of Medicine and earned her MD in 2017.  She is currently a fourth year resident at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC. 

Anna Ledeczi, a high school student at the time, worked in our lab as part of her enrollment in the School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt.  Anna continued experiments testing the effects of caerin 1 peptides on lactobacillus growth.  She then tested the effects of active peptides on Neisseria lactamica, a stand in for the pathogenic Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Anna was a bright and motivated student who was always excited to gather data and interpret the results.  She is now enrolled in Colombia University where she continues to pursue science.

Julia Rowe was also in high school when she worked in our lab.  She spent a great deal of time working on the peptide experiments alongside Dr. Smith.  I can recall explaining the concept of molarity to Julia because she hadn’t even taken her first chemistry class yet!  Julia earned a Bachelor’s degree in public health with a minor in biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and she is now pursuing a Master’s degree in public health at East TN State University.  There is no doubt that Julia will be a success in all of her endeavors.

Thanks to Dr. Smith, Anna, and Julia, for all of their hard work.  And let's not forget our fearless leader, Dr. Louise Rollins-Smith, for pulling together the data for publication.

And as always, stay tuned!  We have manuscripts both submitted and in prep, so I hope to be back soon with more great reading recommendations…..which will no doubt be the perfect complement to all things pumpkin spice.

In the meantime, please take care and be well!