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New investigator: Vinai Thomas, Ph.D.

Image with caption: Vinai Thomas, Ph.D.

Vinai Thomas, Ph.D.

This profile is part of a series to highlight the researchers who will be honored at a ceremony for UNMC's 2018 Scientist Laureate, Distinguished Scientist, Research Leadership and New Investigator Award recipients.

The New Investigator Award

New Investigator Awards go to outstanding UNMC scientists who in the past two years have secured their first funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense or other national sources. New Investigators also had to demonstrate scholarly activity such as publishing their research and/or presenting their findings at national conventions.

  • Name: Vinai Chittezham Thomas, Ph.D.
  • Title: Assistant professor, UNMC Department of Pathology and Microbiology
  • Joined UNMC: 2010 as post-doctoral fellow and 2014 as faculty
  • Hometown: Mallappally, Kerala, India

Research focus:

  • MRSA
  • Metabolism
  • Physiology

The goal of my research is: To understand how bacterial pathogens control metabolic stress and optimize growth. Current investigations in my lab are centered on understanding the physiological significance of bacterial nitric oxide synthase. We employ a variety of molecular, genetic and biochemical approaches to determine why MRSA would risk producing nitric oxide, a potent inhibitor of bacterial respiration.

My research will make a difference because: It will generate mechanistic insights on the control of metabolic pathways that bacterial pathogens rely upon for successful infection of the host. Multiple enzymes within metabolic pathways either normally or adventitiously produce byproducts that can adversely affect their growth and physiology. However, bacterial pathogens have evolved efficient strategies to limit the toxicity of such byproducts. We hope to identify these strategies and gauge their potential for therapeutic interference.

The best advice I've ever been given is:
When challenges arise, face them. Run over them.

Three things you may not know about me are:

  • I was very good at chess when I was young and still enjoy it recreationally.
  • I enjoy trying out new cooking recipes in my spare time. My 4-year old son acts as judge and jury on these.
  • These days science is what most interests me, but I used to have a life once.

Ceremony March 5

A campus ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. March 5 in the Durham Research Center Auditorium to recognize the scientist laureate, research leadership awardee, distinguished scientists and new investigators, as well as the winners of the Community Service to Research Award. A reception will follow.

Honorees include:
Scientist Laureate

  • Robert Lewis, Ph.D., Eppley Institute

Research Leadership

  • Mohammad Siahpush, Ph.D., College of Public Health

Distinguished Scientists

  • David Dzewaltowski, Ph.D., College of Public Health
  • Corinne Hanson, Ph.D., College of Allied Health Professions
  • Javeed Iqbal, Ph.D., College of Medicine
  • Pete Iwen, Ph.D., College of Medicine
  • Donald Klepser, Ph.D., College of Pharmacy
  • Max Kurz, Ph.D., Munroe-Meyer Institute
  • Yulong Li, M.D., Ph.D., College of Medicine
  • Matthew Lunning, D.O., College of Medicine
  • Scot Ouellette, Ph.D., College of Medicine
  • Tony Wilson, Ph.D., College of Medicine

New Investigators

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