April 8, 2014: Going Viral

Science Pub RVA #18

Bacteria Eaters to the Rescue

Gail Christie, a researcher and educator, oriented a room of 79 participants to the fascinating world of bacteriophages (viruses that kill bacteria). Turns out these viruses are the most abundant biological entity on our planet and can be found thriving just about everywhere from ours soils, to our oceans as well as in and on our bodies. They hijack and destroy bacteria and (in the process) transport genes between organisms and ecosystems. Dr. Christie gave us some insight on the obstacles and prospects of phage therapy, as bacteriophages have been making headlines with the promise of solving our antibiotic dilemma.

Gail E. Christie, PhD

Professor of Microbiology and Immunology
Program Director,  Molecular Biology & Genetics Curriculum
VCU School of Medicine

Gail Christie has been studying the biology and interplay of bacteria and their viruses for her entire scientific career. Her current research efforts are focused on understanding how a special piece of pathogenic DNA “hijacks” a bacterial virus to move itself between bacteria, and on the development of new antimicrobial agents to treat bacterial infections. Dr. Christie earned her Ph.D. from Yale University, and held postdoctoral research fellowships at Yale, Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley. She joined the VCU faculty in 1984, where she is now Professor of Microbiology and Immunology.