HRP SU23-5: Research Opportunity with Dr. Melissa Caimano

Project Mentor

Dr. Melissa Caimano
Departments of Medicine, Pediatrics, and Molecular Biology and Biophysics

Undergraduate Research Opportunity Description

Project Description The project focuses on understanding how Lyme disease spirochetes alter their gene expression in response to tick and mammalian host signals. The summer research project will center on developing fluorescent (GFP) transcriptional reporters to localize DNA binding sites for regulatory proteins related to virulence. These constructs then would be transferred in spirochetes. If time allows, gene expression will be measured by microscopy and flow cytometry.
Project Direction The overall goal is to understand how the Lyme disease bacterium alters its gene expression to survive in ticks and mice. Our group and others already have identified the major gene regulatory pathways and cohorts of genes that are preferentially activated by the bacterium in these two different environments. Ultimately, we want to identify the molecular mechanisms and transcriptional regulator involved in regulating gene expression.
Mentorship and Supervision The PI and technical staff will supervise the student directly on a daily basis. The student will be provided background literature and written protocols for all procedures. The PI will discuss theory and practice prior to beginning new techniques. The PI and/or laboratory members will help the student interpret results and plan ‘next steps’ on a daily basis as well as establish weekly goals. The student will be responsible for maintaining a notebook detailing results and prepare weekly summaries.
Student Qualifications Student should have a basic understanding of biology, including some molecular biology. Highly motivated students will be trained to do a wide range of techniques, including PCR, cloning, agarose gel electrophoresis, purification of nucleic acid, and, if time allows, expression and purification of recombinant proteins.

Minimum science GPA: 3.0

Summer Schedule Options Research Dates: May 22 to July 28, 2023
Schedule: To be arranged within schedule parameters of M-F, 8am-6pm
Project Continuation Fall 2023, Spring 2024
Academic Year Time Commitment 9 hours/week
Possible Thesis Project Yes


Submit an online application for this research opportunity at The application deadline is Monday, January 30, 2023.

This application requires a cover letter, science GPA, and a brief statement of career interests.