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Current Lab Members

  • Chris Sassetti

    Chris Sassetti


    Tuberculosis remains a serious threat to global health. The development of transformational new interventions for this disease relies on understanding the fundamental biology that determines the pathogenesis of the disease. We are a diverse group of bacteriologists, immunologists, and geneticists that are focused on understanding the critical interactions between Mycobacterium tuberculosis and its human host that determine disease progression and treatment response.

  • Aditya Bandekar

    Aditya Bandekar

    PhD Candidate

    Energy generating metabolic processes like oxidative phosphorylation lead to the production of noxious reactive oxygen species that damage DNA. Using a dual transcriptomic - metabolomic approach, Aditya is interested in uncovering mechanisms that M. tuberculosis might use to protect its replicating DNA from the chemically reactive by-products of oxidative metabolism. Aditya received his M.Sc. in Microbiology at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India where examined the potential of soil bacteria and actinomycetes to act as biocontrol agents against the plant disease, fusarial wilt. 

  • Michelle Bellerose

    Michelle Bellerose

    PhD Candidate

    Tuberculosis control is limited by the length of antibiotic treatment needed to prevent recurrent disease. The drug-tolerant state assumed by Mtb during infection contributes to the relative inefficacy of antibiotics.Interested in understanding bacterial mechanisms that alter antibiotic efficacy, Michelle’s work focuses on using bacterial genetics to understand survival under antibiotic pressure during infection. Michelle received her B.Sc in Microbiology from University of Massachusetts Amherst.

  • Michael Kiritsy

    Michael Kiritsy

    While about 80% of the genome is transcribed, only 1% of the genome is protein-coding and the function of most non-coding transcripts remain unknown. A member of the MD-PhD program at UMass, Mike joined the Sassetti lab in the fall of 2015 to study the immunomodulatory role of long non-coding RNAs. Mike uses both in vitro and in vivo approaches to probe the function of long non-coding RNAs in the setting of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. A graduate of Georgetown University, he received his B.Sc in the Biology of Global Health.

  • Eun-Ik Koh

    Eun-Ik Koh


    Mycobacterium tuberculosis encounter numerous microenvironments within the host with varying nutrient availability as well as host mediated stress factors. Investigating the mechanisms of essential metabolic pathways in these microenvironments will help identify targets for novel therapeutic approaches. Eun-Ik is interested in utilizing bacterial genetics and mass spectrometric approaches to investigate essential pathways of Mtb nutrient acquisition and metabolism. Eun-Ik received his PhD from Washington University in St. Louis in the laboratory of Dr. Jeffrey Henderson, where he investigated metal acquisition by the yersiniabactin metallophore system in uropathogenic E. coli.


  • Lisa Lojek

    Lisa Lojek


    Lisa received her B.S. in Biological Sciences from Ohio University. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from Vanderbilt University in the lab of Dr. Eric Skaar, where she studied metal regulation in Staphylococcus aureus and heme degradation in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.  In the Sassetti lab, Lisa is focused on better understanding carbon catabolism in various Mycobacterial species.


  • Kenan Murphy

    Kenan Murphy

    Research Assistant Professor

    "Recombination Guru"

  • Samantha Nelson

    Samantha Nelson

    PhD Student

    Samantha Nelson completed her undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL. She is fascinated by the ability of bacteria to acquire nutrients and alter their metabolism to suit inhospitable host environments. Currently, she is characterizing an intramembrane protease inMycobacterium tuberculosisrequired for iron homeostasis and growth in mice.

  • Kadamba Papavinasasundaram

    Kadamba Papavinasasundaram

  • Charlotte Reames

    Charlotte Reames

    Research Associate

    Despite a concerted scientific effort, treatment for tuberculosis continues to be slow, difficult, and variably effective. In order to understand the many challenges involved in tuberculosis treatment, it's essential to study the genetic makeup of M. tuberculosis and its relatives.With a focus on bacterial genetics, Charlotte contributes to a variety of the lab's ongoing projects. She received her B.S. at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where she studied the mycobacterial stress response in the lab of Dr. Scarlet Shell.


  • Clare Smith

    Clare Smith


    Genetic variation in the host and pathogen underlie outcome to infection. Clare has developed a “dual-genome” system to understand the host and bacterial genetic determinants of susceptibility to infection, the host genotype-specific preferential growth of different lineages of Mtb and the mechanisms of vaccine protection in diverse hosts. Clare received her PhD from the Menzies Research Institute in Australia in the lab of Prof Simon Foote, where she identified host genes required for growth of the malarial parasite and targeted these pathways as novel host-directed therapeutics.