Professor Borden Lacy and postdoc Shannon Kordus show off their structural expertise with playdough while we asked them some questions about their research.
Interested in their research? Read more here:
Clostridioides difficile toxins: mechanisms of action and antitoxin therapeutics - Shannon Kordus, Audrey Thomas, Borden Lacy
Casey Butrico: If you could be in the room for one scientific discovery, what would it be?
Borden Lacey (B): I want to be in the room when Shannon visualizes C. diff pumping out toxins.
Shannon Kordus (S): I know, I want to be in that room too.
VI4 Scientists Doing Things
B: My name is Borden Lacy and I am a professor in the department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology. And I came here 16 years ago, it was my first job out of my postdoc, and I started as an assistant professor.
S: I am Shannon Kordus; I am a postdoctoral fellow in Borden’s lab. After I finished my Ph.D. I really wanted to do structural biology, and I figured there was no one best to learn from than Borden.
[What does your lab study?]
B: In our lab we study Clostridium difficile [C. diff / C. difficile], and we’re interested in how it causes disease and the organism will make toxins— which I am going to try to make (Borden gestures to colored clay) and Shannon’s going to make the organism.
S: Yes. (Shannon nods in agreement)
S: What I’m really interested in is trying to understand how the toxins get out of the bacteria. Since a lot of Borden’s lab has studied the effector functions of the toxins; not really much is known about how the toxins get out of the bacteria. The bacteria have such a complex cellular wall, so it kind of makes for a very challenging and exciting project.
[Why is C. difficile important to study?]
B: So C. diff is a big problem in hospitals and long-term care facilities. It is an organism that can take hold if you’ve taken antibiotics and depleted your healthy gut microbiome. Then this organism can colonize your colon and begin making these toxins and that is what causes diarrhea.
[What’s one scientific question you would ask a genie?]
S: I have a couple of ridiculous questions (laughs) I don’t know...if like, if I only get one question...(aside) oh gosh...okay, so like, gonna be selfish and be like: “is it going to be possible to determine the structure of the whole end?” Like I know I can do it, will it take my entire life? (Borden laughs) I don’t know. I want the genie to be like “Oh you’ve got this in—”
B: Oh! that would be great if you had a way to know if the project you’re working on was ultimately going to succeed or fail. (laughs)
[What would you want to be if you weren’t a scientist?]
B: I think I would be a farmer. I would be a scientist farmer growing different types of plants seeing which ones could help restore the soil and be better for the environment. The other thing I wanted to be when I was little was a detective and I still think that would be an exciting job, this was just safer.
S: (laughs) yeah.
B: I still am a detective, just don’t have anyone shooting at me.
S: (laughs) that’s true!