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Publication Date

Fall 2023

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Laura Conrad; Philip Dirlam; Ningkun Wang


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a Gram-negative bacterium that causes deadly infections in hospital settings. To treat these infections, antibiotics are required, but P. aeruginosa is developing increasing antibiotic resistance to many antibiotics currently in use. This rising trend has caused both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the World Health Organization to designate multidrug resistant strains of P. aeruginosa to be a serious threat. There are multiple mechanisms of resistance which can target and neutralize a wide variety of antibiotics. One antibiotic that still has effectiveness is colistin, a therapy of last resort. Unfortunately, the adaptability of P. aeruginosa means that it is developing mechanisms to resist colistin as well. Some strains of P. aeruginosa can modify their outer membrane, making it have a more neutral charge. This makes it so colistin cannot effectively embed itself within the outer membrane and kill the bacteria. We are exploring molecules that can interfere with the natural defenses that P. aeruginosa possesses. These molecules can be used in conjunction with colistin and enhance its activity, allowing it to kill a majority of the bacteria at lower concentrations where it could not previously do so. I carried out characterization of these molecules to learn more about how they work, as well as how well they work. Successful characterization of these small molecules can lead to improved treatment strategies for P. aeruginosa infections.