Paper: An in vitro exposure platform for investigating bacterial and epithelial cell responses to aerosolized phage challenge.
Mathura Thirugnanasampanthar is a first-year PhD student at McMaster University in the Department of Chemical Engineering. She completed her undergraduate degree in Honors Biology before pursuing graduate studies in Chemical Engineering. Mathura works in a cross-disciplinary team: her main advisor, Dr. Zeinab Hosseinidoust, is a Canadian Research Chair in Bacteriophage Bioengineering, and her co-advisor, Prof. Myrna Dolovich, is associated with the Firestone Institute of Respiratory Health at St. Joseph’s Hospital, McMaster University, with decades of experience in aerosol technology. Michelle Feng, a fifth-year student in Integrated Biomedical Engineering and Health Sciences program joined the project as an undergraduate research associate in January 2022. Michelle is a dedicated researcher and has made significant contributions to the project.
Mathura uses her custom-built aerosol exposure platform, a design based on the ASTM F2101-19 standard, to generate and analyze infectious aerosols, namely those containing bacteria and viruses. Bacteriophages are important model organisms for her research – these viruses can physically and chemically resemble SARS-CoV-2, but they are innocuous enough to be handled in level 1 laboratories. Significantly, biologic aerosols containing bacteriophages or bacterial viruses can also combat multi-drug resistant strains of pathogenic bacteria. Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA), is an important pathogen, responsible for recurrent and difficult-to-treat airway infections in cystic fibrosis patients. Her most recent work examines lung delivery of bacteriophages to combat PA infections. Mathura’s current research interests include airborne disease transmission, respiratory infections, and aerosolized therapeutics delivery to the lungs.