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Opportunity at U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC)

Novel Strategies for Countermeasure Development against Antibiotic Resistant Organisms


Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, Life Sciences, Medical Sciences, & Behavioral Sciences

RO# Location
11.01.04.B8130 Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 210105423


Name E-mail Phone
Gibbons, Henry S 410.436.5999


Multiple drug-resistant strains of Bacillus anthracis, Yersinia pestis, and Francisella tularensis were developed by the former Soviet biological weapons programs, which conducted research in the guise of developing antibiotic resistant live attenuated vaccine strains. However, reports from former participants revealed that these experiments were directed toward the development of methods to transfer antibiotic resistance determinants into virulent strains for the purposes of developing untreatable infectious agents. Compounding the problem, naturally occurring transmissible plasmids represent a natural source for MDR determinants that can be transferred into classical biothreat agents, and a multiple antibiotic resistant strain of Y. pestis was isolated in the 1990s in Madagascar. Finally, modern methods of gene synthesis potentially enable the construction de novo of MDR pathogens. First, we are bioprospecting for new antimicrobial-producing organisms into unexplored environmental niches, to discover novel compounds by triggering cryptic secondary metabolite expression, characterizing their microbial sources, and evaluating their activity against existing MDR tester strains. In addition, our laboratory will utilize a combination of synthetic biology and bacterial genetic techniques to develop select-agent exempt, highly attenuated strains MDR strains derived from biothreat agents containing genetic “fail-safe” mechanisms to prevent their mobilization into wild-type strains. These strains will serve as BSL-2 surrogate strains for countermeasure development against authentic MDR biothreat agents.



Gibson DG, et al: Science 329: 52, 2010

Weber CF: Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education 15: 277, 2014

Zhu H, et al: Microbiology: 2014

Seyedsayamdost MR: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 111: 7266, 2014


Microbiology; Synthetic biology; Antibiotic resistance; Antibiotic; Surrogate; Bacterial genetics; Bioprospecting; Aerobiology; Aerosol;


Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral and Senior applicants
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