Few undergraduate students can lay claim to discovering a virus, but IU Southeast’s Drew Gukeisen is one of them.
In a sample of water from the Ohio River near Jeffersonville, Ind., Gukeisen recently found a bacteriophage — a virus that invades bacteria — that has since been named OHR. This particular “phage” invades a bacteria known as Caulobacter crescentus, which is commonly found in ponds, creeks and rivers.
A senior biology student from Lexington, Ky., Gukeisen earned a 2015 IU Southeast student research fellowship to isolate, characterize and sequence the genome of OHR. At present, he is working with associate professor of biology Dr. Pam Connerly in work that one day could help medical science combat such modern-day challenges as antibiotic resistance.
“Much of the work that led to the molecular biology revolution, understanding the role of DNA and proteins and how cells make each of them, came about in the mid-1900s due to work on bacteriophages,” Connerly said.
“Such basic research is essential for building the background and framework from which more applied research is built. Scientists working on phage therapy could potentially gain from any increase in understanding of these topics.”