Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the etiologic agent of the sexually transmitted infection, gonorrhea, can have severe reproductive health consequences. Due to its natural ability to acquire mutated, resistance-associated alleles of antibiotic targets from its surrounding environment, N. gonorrhoeae has rapidly acquired high levels of resistance for all the classes of antibiotics that were formerly in use, except one. As of 2020, the CDC has declared cephalosporins as the only remaining recommended antimicrobial class for treatment, thereby offering us a glimpse into the “post-antibiotic era”. Thus, it is of great importance to better understand the pathways to resistance taken by this pathogen and how it evolves under antibiotic pressure while adapting to the cost associated with harboring resistance alleles.
As a postdoctoral fellow in the labs of Yonatan Grad at HSPH and Ethan Garner at MCB, Aditya Bandekar focusses on understanding the growth and division mechanisms of this important human pathogen. As a diplococcus, N. gonorrhoeae provides a unique opportunity to discover novel modes of growth and division that may not be found in classical models of bacterial cell division. Further, by leveraging the expertise of genomics from Dr. Grad and cellular biology from Dr. Garner, Aditya hopes to understand how this organism has adapted to antibiotic pressure in nature and how it deals with the at-times detrimental effects of acquiring antibiotic resistance.
Aditya began his career studying microbial interactions in the soil. He subsequently earned his Ph.D. studying the transcriptional landscape of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis cell cycle with Dr. Christopher Sassetti at University of Massachusetts Medical School where he discovered a novel role for nucleotide biosynthesis in influencing cell division.