News/Events

ASU postdoc awarded Alfred P. Sloan Foundation - NASA joint fellowship to study International Space Station microbes

May 16, 2017

Arizona State University has received new support from the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and NASA for its rising research stars to study the microbiome of the built environment on board the International Space Station (ISS).  ASU Biodesign Institute postdoctoral researcher Jiseon Yang was just one of five scientists chosen from across the country for a fellowship award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation under a joint call with NASA – “Microbes of the Built Environment...

NASA, ASU collaboration develops new 3-D tissue culture models with immune cells to better mimic human gut infections

March 10, 2017

Vaccines and antimicrobials have done more to transform medicine and extend the average human lifespan than any other scientific breakthrough. Yet infectious diseases remain the world’s no. 1 leading cause of death of children and young adults.  Now, with emerging epidemic threats like Zika, Ebola, SARS, TB and others, massive increases in antimicrobial resistance, and the time and cost for developing new antimicrobial drugs and therapeutics, scientists are worried about finding ever...

Effects of spaceflight detected in blood

January 25, 2017

As researchers have long known, the punishing conditions associated with human spaceflight present profound challenges for the mental and physical health of astronauts. Acceleration during launch, (which must rapidly propel the craft to some 18,000 mph), acute confinement, hazardous levels of radiation, sleep deprivation, and reduced gravity (or microgravity) can produce a range of physiological effects, from suppressed immune function, bone and muscle loss, eyesight problems, and viral...

Bacteria get dangerously weird in space

October 25, 2016

In 2006, Cheryl Nickerson sent a culture of salmonella bacteria for a ride on the space shuttle Atlantis. Eleven days later, she watched anxiously from the Kennedy Space Center in the dead of night as her bacteria returned safely. Nickerson, a microbiologist at Arizona State University, and her team then infected hundreds of mice with the salmonella grown in space. At the same time, they infected hundreds of other mice with salmonella simultaneously grown on the ground. They had to work...

Switched-on Salmonella: fluid forces guide disease traits of multidrug resistant bacteria

June 8, 2016

Once inside the human body, infectious microbes like Salmonella face a fluid situation. They live in a watery world, surrounded by liquid continually flowing over and abrading their cell surfaces—a property known as fluid shear. In new research appearing in the Nature Publishing Group journal npj Microgravity, Cheryl Nickerson, Ph.D.,  and her colleagues explore the effects of physiological fluid shear on ST313—a particularly dangerous type of Salmonella, which is resistant to...

Student Spotlight: Breanne McCarthy

May 13, 2016

Breanne McCarthy’s undergraduate experience was out of this world - literally.  During her first year at ASU, McCarthy found an opportunity to work in astrobiology in Cheryl Nickerson’s lab at the Biodesign Institute.  “My first study with Dr. Nickerson’s lab was really cool because we were studying...how the spaceflight environment will change bacterial resistance or susceptibility to antibiotics,” said McCarthy, “I actually got to lead a teleconference with our...

3-D tissue model of placenta as a predictive platform to study microbial infections during pregnancy

March 24, 2016

During pregnancy, the rapidly developing fetus is enshrouded by a remarkable structure: the placenta. Researchers hope to better understand many peculiarities of placental development, including maternal and fetal pathologies associated with microbial infections during pregnancy. Studying the various cell types making up this unique structure, however,  is challenging. In a new study, Cheryl Nickerson, a researcher at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, along with...

Prominent scientists named to lead ASU Biodesign Institute Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology

January 22, 2016

Charles Arntzen, a researcher who discovered a method for producing an Ebola treatment in a tobacco plant, and Cheryl Nickerson, a microbiologist who discovered that mechanical cues can globally reprogram how pathogens cause disease, have been named to lead the Biodesign Institute’s Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology as interim co-directors. The Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, one of 15 research centers at the growing Biodesign Institute at Arizona State...

In Africa, a deadly Salmonella strain takes hold

September 8, 2015

Salmonella is an infectious agent with many faces, appearing in a multitude of strains affecting animals and humans. A distinct form of the bacterial invader has emerged in sub-Saharan Africa and is responsible for severe epidemic outbreaks. Its unusual characteristics—including a high rate of lethality, invasiveness, atypical symptomatology and resistance to multiple antibiotics—are of rising concern. In a new study, Cheryl Nickerson and her colleagues at the Biodesign Institute at...

Nature microgravity journal takes flight

June 5, 2015

A new on-line, open-access, peer-reviewed journal focusing on multidisciplinary research performed in microgravity and Earth-based microgravity analogue environments has taken flight.   The first issue of npj Microgravity, a joint project between the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University (ASU) and the Nature Publishing Group with support from NASA, is now available.  Designed to be the premier journal covering research that both enables and is enabled by spaceflight, this...