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Dr. Geeta Ram

Wellcome Trust-DBT India Alliance Intermediate Fellow
E-mail: geetaram at rcb dot res dot in

  • Ph.D. (2009), International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, New Delhi, India
  • Postdoc, New York University Langone Health, New York, USA
  • Associate Research Scientist, New York University Langone Health, New York, USA

Role of Staphylococcal Pathogenicity Island (SaPI) in adaptation and virulence of Staphylococcus aureus

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a pathogenic bacterium that can infect any organ of the human body. It’s one of the most successful pathogens, having remarkable adaptability and virulence. S. aureus strains can carry different mobile genetic elements (MGEs), including plasmids, transposons, staphylococcus cassette chromosomes (SCC), bacteriophages and staphylococcal pathogenicity islands (SaPIs), which contribute to their virulence, broad host range and antibiotic resistance. Horizontal transfer of MGEs among different S. aureus strains plays a vital role in the evolution of this pathogen.

SaPIs are highly mobile chromosomal islands that are induced to excise and replicate by specific phages, “helper phages”. The SaPI replicated DNA is packaged in phage-encoded particles and released upon phage-mediated lysis. These islands, often carry unique toxin genes, move readily between strains, mediate transfer of unlinked chromosomal genes and interfere with the reproduction of the very phages they parasitize. All sequenced genomes of naturally occurring staphylococcal strains contain at least one intact or defective SaPI.

I propose that the diversity, adaptability and virulence of this notorious pathogen depend greatly on its extraordinary islands (SaPIs). The focus of my research proposal is these incredible islands. An understanding of their biology and capabilities will enable us to modify the SaPI and consequently reduce the severity and spread of staphylococcal infection. The proposed research focuses on SaPI’s complex role in HGT, in staphylococcal genomic plasticity and in the metamorphosis of this infamous pathogen.

  • Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance Intermediate Fellowship (2017)
  • Vilcek Fellowship (Vilcek Fellowship Endowment Fund for NYU) (2014)
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Global Health Travel Award to attend the Keystone Symposia B3 Tuberculosis: Biology, Pathology and Therapy (2009)
  • Senior Research Fellowship (SRF), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) (2005)
  • JOINT CSIR-UGC TEST (NET) for Junior Research Fellowship and Eligibility for Lectureship (2003) 

Dr. Geeta Ram
Regional Centre for Biotechnology
NCR Biotech Science Cluster
3rd Milestone, Faridabad-Gurgaon Expressway
P.O. Box No. 3, Faridabad - 121 001
Haryana (NCR Delhi), India
E-mail: geetaram at rcb dot res dot in
Phone: 91 129-2848757 

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