Labs/Faculty: Dr. Radolf’s Lab


Justin Radolf, M.D., Professor of Medicine, Genetics and Developmental Biology, and Pediatrics
Photo of Justin D. Radolf, M.D. Justin Radolf received his B.S. degree in biology from Yale University in 1975. He attended medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, graduating in 1979. He was a resident in Internal Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania from 1979 to 1982. As a fellow in Infectious Diseases at UCLA (1982-1986), he began his research career in spirochetology, specifically studying Treponema pallidum, the cause of syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease. His efforts to use recombinant DNA to identify outer membrane proteins of T. pallidum led to the discovery of the unique protein-deficient outer membrane of T. pallidum. Following fellowship, he continued his spirochete research as a faculty member at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. In the late 1980s, as Lyme disease began to emerge as an important public health problem, Radolf expanded his research program to include Borrelia burgdorferi, the cause of Lyme disease, the most prevalent arthropod-borne pathogen in the United States. In 1999, he relocated to the UConn Health Center where he is currently Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics, and Genetics and Developmental Biology. He is an author or co-author on more than 150 peer-reviewed publications and more than 30 chapters or review. His spirochete research has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1988.
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Arvind Anand, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow
Photo of Arvind Anand, Ph.D. Arvind Anand obtained his M.S. degree in Zoology from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar India. He scored among the top 20 percent of candidates in the National Eligibility test (UGC-CSIR) and qualified for GATE (graduate aptitude test for engineering) with 99.96 percentile (24th rank, Allover India in 2004). In 2010, he received his Ph.D. degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from the Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh India. His dissertation research involved the identification of cellular partners of Vitreoscilla Hemoglobin (VHb) and studies on protein-protein interactions of VHb. His postdoctoral research includes structural and functional studies on outer membrane proteins and beta barrel assembly machinery of Treponema pallidum with the objective of understanding how outer membrane ultrastructure enables the syphilis spirochete to be a stealth pathogen.
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Melissa Caimano, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Medicine
Photo of Melissa J. Caimano, Ph.D. Melissa Caimano received a B.S. degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1989. She attended graduate school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham doing her thesis work on the genetic elements involved in Streptococcus pneumoniae capsule biosynthesis. In 1996, Caimano began a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Justin Radolf at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, relocating to the University of Connecticut in 1999. Her work has focused primarily on the regulatory pathways and molecular mechanisms underlying mammalian host adaptation and maintenance of Borrelia burgdorferi within its natural enzootic cycle. Most notably, these studies have led to the discovery that the alternate sigma factor RpoS plays a critical role in the down-regulation, as well as up-regulation, of borrelial genes specifically in response to mammalian host signals. She has published more than 46 peer-reviewed articles on microbial pathogenesis and related areas in high impact journals. Her work examining the interaction between the Lyme disease spirochete and its arthropod vector is supported by grants awarded to her by the National Research Fund for Tick-Borne Diseases (NRFTD) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH/NIAID). Caimano currently is an Assistant Professor in the UConn Health Center Department of Medicine. She also has served on the Editorial Board of Infection and Immunity since 2006.
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Sarah Fremgen, Ph.D.
Photo of Sarah Fremgen, Ph.D. Sarah Fremgen obtained her B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Texas A&M University, College Station, TX in 2004. In 2012, she received her Ph.D. from the University of Idaho in the field of Microbiology, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. Her dissertation research involved the regulation of GTPase-mediated coordination of independent motility systems in the soil-dwelling bacterium Myxococcus Xanthus. As part of this work she studied previously uncharacterized partners of a receptor tyrosine kinase required for social motility. Her postdoctoral research focuses on the characterization of RpoS-regulated genes in Borrelia and their role in infection.
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André Alex Grassmann, Visiting Graduate Student
Photo of André Alex Grassmann André Alex Grassmann is a visiting graduate student on a one year fellowship awarded by the Brazilian government’s Science Without Borders program. André received his Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences in 2009 from the Federal University of Pelotas (UFPel), Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil. His undergraduate research focused on vaccine development using the B subunit of Escherichia coli heat-labile enterotoxin as an adjuvant. For his post-graduate research, André chose to study Leptospira interrogans, the cause of leptospirosis, which is highly endemic in his native country. After receiving his Masters in Science degree in 2011, André began his dissertation research at UFPel Biotechnology School studying the immune response to Leptospira and the development of new vaccines for leptospirosis. His project in the Spirochete Research Laboratories, under the direction of Dr. Melissa Caimano, involves studying differential gene expression by Leptospira interrogans within the mammalian host using a newly developed dialysis membrane chamber (DMC) model. André expects to receive his Ph.D. in 2015.
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Amit Luthra, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow
Photo of Amit Luthra, Ph.D. In 2009, Amit Luthra, Ph.D., earned a Ph.D. in Structural Biology at the Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow India, where his focus of training was the ESX-1 secretion system of M.Tuberculosis. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Radolf lab, major area of research involves structural and functional characterization of outer membrane proteins (OMPs) of Treponema pallidum.
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Other Lab Members
Photo of Anna Allard Anna Allard, Special Payroll
Photo of Morgan LeDoyt Morgan LeDoyt, Laboratory Assistant II
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