Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh, India
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA
Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad, India
After obtaining my postgraduate degree in Biotechnology at the Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar in 1993, I joined the group of Dr. Anand Bachhawat at the Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh. As a graduate student, I addressed the issue of diverse substrate specificity of the multidrug resistance pump, Pdr5, in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Using a combination of genetic and molecular approaches, I showed that both the efficiency as well as the substrate specificity of Pdr5 is modulated by the altered lipid/sterol composition of the plasma membrane. After completion of my doctoral thesis work in 1999, I joined the group of Dr. Tamar Enoch at Harvard Medical School to carry out a genetic and biochemical analysis of cell cycle checkpoints in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Using genetic, molecular biology and biochemical approaches, I tested the PCNA (proliferating cell nuclear antigen)-like “sliding clamp model” for the function of a trimeric complex consisting of three conserved checkpoint proteins, Hus1, Rad1 and Rad9, and demonstrated that this complex possesses some structural features unique to its role in checkpoint control. In the fall of 2001, I ventured into the field of fungal pathogenesis and joined the laboratory of Dr. Brendan Cormack at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Here, I changed the organism of my choice from the fission yeast to the pathogenic yeast Candida glabrata, and first worked towards generating a valuable resource, a genomic mutant library by random Tn7-based insertional mutagenesis approach, in collaboration with other colleagues in the laboratory. Later, I focused my research on host-pathogen interactions and showed the pivotality of a family of eleven cell surface-associated aspartyl proteases in activation of, and, survival within, macrophages. After returning to India, I joined the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD), Hyderabad in November of 2006. The long-term goal of my laboratory at CDFD is to unravel multiple facets of C. glabrata pathobiology, and better understand the intrinsic properties that make commensal yeasts potential pathogens. Our current research is centered on delineating the strategies that C. glabrata employs to acquire resistance to antifungals and survive antimicrobial environment of the mammalian host.