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Hanh Lam

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
117 Life Sciences I Building (MC 0910)
970 Washington Street SW
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Major Fields of Interest

  • Molecular Mechanism of host-pathogen interactions
  • Genomics
  • Drug and Antimicrobial Discovery

Current Research 

Our lab studies host – microbe interaction at the cellular and molecular level and develops antimicrobials against the Gram-negative pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosaP. aeruginosa is an ESKAPE pathogen that frequently “escapes” antimicrobial drugs and is one of the most common causes of health care-associated infections worldwide. The Type III secretion system (T3SS) is a major virulence determinant associated with acute Pseudomonas infection. The T3SS is required for virulence in a number of pathogens but is largely absent from commensals, making it an ideal target for antimicrobial development. Among four effector proteins secreted by the P. aeruginosaT3SS, the effector ExoU is a known marker of highly virulent strains and antibiotic resistance, and is responsible for acute epithelial injury. ExoU has phospholipase A2 activity, which can hydrolyze phospholipids such as phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2). However, the molecular mechanism of host cell death caused by ExoU remains unknown.

Our current research projects:

  1. Develop inhibitors of the Type III secretion system
  2. Develop inhibitors of bacterial phospholipases
  3. Investigate the mechanisms of host cell death caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech, 2022 
  • Assistant Project Scientist, Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology, Univeristy of California, Santa Cruz, 2019 - 2022
  • Postdoctoral Researcher, Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology, University of California, Santa Cruz, 2014 - 2019
  • Ph.D., Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, Cornell University, 2008 - 2014
  • Lecturer, Research Institue of Biotechnology and Environmental Technology, University of Agriculture and Forestry, Vietnam, 2005 - 2008
  • B.S., Biotechology, University of Agriculture and Forestry, Vietnam, 2001 - 2005
  • NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award, 2019 - 2024
  • Vietnam Education Foundation Fellowship, 2008 - 2014
  • Excellence Staff Award in Overall Performance, University of Agriculture and Forestry, Vietnam, 2007