Abrar Abidi

Post-baccalaureate Research Fellow

401 Terry Ave N

My research interests are astride the fields of systems and synthetic biology, and rely on a constant interplay between hypothesis-driven, high-throughput experimental work and computation. In general, I am fascinated by the various and sundry ways in which microbes survive and adapt to a range of environmental conditions. In particular, my own work is focused on M. tuberculosis (MTB), considered at present the deadliest infectious disease in the world.

When MTB infects a human host, a menagerie of immune cells swarm around the pathogens and restrict their access to oxygen and nutrients, whereafter the bacteria cease to replicate and slow their metabolism to a crawl, entering into a latent state where they become particularly resistant to antibiotics. If, however, the host’s immune system is compromised, the bacteria once again become active, resuming their destruction within and in many cases killing the host.

We use oxygen deprivation to induce a dormant state in the bacteria in vitro, to help mimic what happens when MTB infects a host. By pushing the experimental methods typically used to study this system, and elucidating the complex genetic circuits that might drive this behavior, I hope to shed light on the biology of latency in MTB, constructing predictive models of its genetic control systems and suggesting new routes by which to discover drugs to treat it.