Dr. Hadjifrangiskou is a microbiologist in the Departments of Urologic Surgery and Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology; she is also part of our VI4 Leadership Committee as an Associate Director. Her lab studies the ways in which UPEC can sense changes in its surrounding environment and thereby accordingly alter its behavior as it transits through different host and environmental niches. They are also interested in the factors contributing to and the hierarchy of biofilm formation, aiming to define specific stages in the pathway that can be targeted therapeutically. Maria is heavily involved with VI4 outreach activities, specifically MEGAMicrobe, and is working on the very exciting MicroVU initiative.
Hadji Lab Pizza Party with undergrads
VI4: How long have you been at Vanderbilt?
MH: Six years
VI4: Tell us something exciting happening in your lab at the moment.
MH: Two of my science "kids" passed their quals! Yay!! This has been the highlight of this month. It is amazing to see my students go through this right of passage and emerge confident and ready to pursue their scientific goals! On the research side, my lab studies different aspects of bacterial gene regulation. These days, we are particularly excited about how bacteria regulate complex processes like the formation of multicellular communities called biofilms. Biofilms formed during infection are extremely hard to eradicate, because the bacteria within are protected from antibiotic treatment by the presence of a self-secreted coating called the extracellular matrix. In my lab we are beginning to elucidate which members of the biofilm community are responsible for the generation of distinct matrix components and their specific placement within the biofilm. Understanding this division of labor has the potential to open up new avenues for targeting biofilm infections. We performing these studies on uropathogenic E. coli, which is the primary cause of urinary tract infections.
VI4: What is one piece of advice you'd give to a new graduate student?
MH: You have embarked on a journey. Don't loose sight of the shore, but do take the time and learn from each part of your journey. And remember that you are not in it alone!
VI4: What is your favorite lunch spot near campus?
MH: It's got to be Fido
VI4: What is the best thing to do in Nashville during the fall/winter?
MH: Find a new coffee shop and try their hot cocoa. This is something I like to do with my oldest daughter (we love hot cocoa!).
VI4: Peanut Butter: Crunchy or Smooth?
MH: I'm European (from Cyprus originally) so I prefer hazelnut spread!
VI4: Favorite Superhero and why?
MH: Wolverine and Gamora bc they are often misunderstood.
VI4: What/who are you reading right now?
MH: Lois McMaster Bujold - Palladin of souls
Maria's face-painting has been a hit at MEGAMicrobe for two years
Here she is at MM2018
Hadji Lab booth at MEGAMicrobe 2018:
Maria and her daughter Thea at MEGAMicrobe 2017
Engage with Dr. Hadjifrangiskou: