Every once in a while I get emails asking about the type of research I do. I started working with bacterial genetics when I was only 20 years old in a lab in Sao Paulo during my college years, then worked at Stanford on biotechnology of vaccines, a very exciting period in my professional life, and the beginning of me falling in love with beautiful California. Went back to Brazil, had my own lab for a few years, left to work at Institut Pasteur in France, where I met the scientist who years later would become my husband. We’ve been working as a team for almost 17 years now, trying to figure out the mechanism of a transport reaction in bacteria.

We study how bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Listeria monocytogenes get iron from the environment and “swallow it up.” The metal is indispensable for bacteria as well as all other living organisms to survive, but it is very tricky to obtain. Iron can be compared to money in the sense that everyone who has it tries to protect it from being taken away. However, bacteria developed sophisticated systems to do just that: steal the iron from you and use it to survive. Since all pathogenic bacteria need to obtain iron to cause disease, we hope that our research will lead to the discovery of new weapons to fight infections.

If you want to read more about it, visit our lab website, still under construction, but already in good enough shape to give you a general idea of what we do.

Here at UCLA we are studying a different transport system, that allows bacteria to take up a sugar called lactose. A lot of what we are learning in this system will help our own research in Oklahoma in the future.

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19 thoughts on “MEET OUR LAB

  1. Thank you, Sally, for that very clear explanation for the non-scientists among your fans. Now I understand just a little of what you and your colleagues are doing. The whole world should be cheering you on.


  2. Loved to read about your research, even if I did not understand it completely.
    I have to say that you and your husband seem more like a Hollywood couple than my idea of a science-team. Where are the thick glasses? πŸ™‚

    you both look so good!


    • Oh, you are too kind! Let’s say that we chose our photos very carefully… πŸ˜‰

      Phil doesn’t have that gorgeous beard at the moment, but I find him just as handsome without it.


    • Angela, eu adoro escrever, e’ algo que sempre me acompanhou desde crianca, e creio que o blog e’ uma boa forma de dar vazao a essa paixao por escrita. Perdi muito do meu portugues escrito depois de tantos anos fora, o que e’ uma pena.


  3. dearest sally, thank you for sharing with us this interesting post! i love being informed on new issues and i appreciate your individual & your team’s efforts for your scientific discoveries. among my greek friends one is working on mitre, ca., another one as a researcher at USRA, a 3rd one at UfT, ECE dpt.; i feel happy for them & for all the academic researchers, who are trying the best for our benefit! greetings fm frozen greece! πŸ™‚


    • Thanks so much for your comments, Gina… I’ve been to Greece once, in 1994 and it was THE most amazing trip ever… I dream of going back with my husband some day, it’s hard to impress a Brazilian as far as ocean and beaches are concerned, but Greece is simply the closest thing to paradise in my mind! Loved the breakfasts with fresh yogurt, honey… the people, the beauty everywhere… I went to Paros for a few days, unforgettable…


  4. thanks, Celia… the photo of Phil was taken just outside a restaurant in Paris, almost exactly one year ago. It was a wonderful day, and I think his face shows it… πŸ˜‰


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