I'm not sure if it was the first time that the Elliot lab entered the pumpkin-carving competition, but it was definitely the first time that we won!! Under Michelle's inspired guidance, the 'scientist skeleton' - complete with bubbling Erlenmyer flask - took top prize! But there were in fact two outstanding creations - the flying bat was also just fantastic! It's an honour to work with such creative people!!
Huge congratulations go to Evan for his outstanding comprehensive exam performance! He wowed his committee with his knowledge of everything from imaging mass spec to transposon mutagenesis, and everything in between. Excellent job!!
It was a long haul, but it was so worth it in the end! Our work on the 'resuscitation-promoting factors' from Streptomyces coelicolor has just been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry! These tempermental little proteins were the source of much blood, sweat and tears, and it is a testament to Danielle's perserverance - with assistance from David and Evan, and great collaborative work with Anthony Clarke's group in Guelph - that this story ultimately came together in the end.
Matt kick-started the summer with a superb performance on his comprehensive exam! Having put the many weeks of lock-down to good use, he put together both a great report, and demonstrated an impressive display of knowledge. Congratulations!!
While not the welcome we usually have for new summer students, we were delighted to welcome Logan Downer to the lab for the summer! Logan joined Andrea in furthering our bioinformatic projects over the summer, in advance of starting her 4th year thesis in the lab in September.
With spring comes a multitude of scholarship announcements, and the lab was fortunate to have much to celebrate this year! Matt, Evan and Meghan were all awarded Ontario Graduate Scholarships, in recognition of their research excellence, while Andrea was awarded an NSERC Undergraduate Student Award (USRA). Congratulations to you all!!
Early April can be a nerve-wracking time, as this is when NSERC grant results are announced. Fortunately, this was a year where there was much to celebrate! Marie's 'Discovery grant' was renewed with a big raise, and the lab was awarded funds to buy a new HPLC for small molecule analyses (in conjunction with Turlough Finan and Karen Kidd). Hurray!!
February marked Biology's annual Graduate Research Day (GRD), while March represented the inaugural Biochemistry Research Symposium - and the Elliot lab was incredibly well represented in both! Matt and Evan gave great talks, and Emma and Fei did a terrific jobs with their poster presentations. Fei ultimately took top poster honours, while Evan received the 'top presentation' award. Emma also took on the '3 minute thesis' challenge, and received an honourable mention for her excellent efforts! A month later, Evan decided to try his poster pitch in Biochem's Research Symposium, to great success - he received the 'top poster' prize. I am so proud of you all!!!
While the weather outside isn't frightful, it isn't always the most welcoming in mid-winter! But there was VERY enthusiastic welcome inside for Michelle Williams and Andrea Verdes who joined us in January! Andrea is an MBG co-op student, and we are fortunate to work with her for her first work term. Michelle is a new post-doctoral fellow, coming to us from Pam Brown's lab at the University of Missouri. A warm welcome to you both!
Fei earned a very well-deserved break over the Christmas holidays, following a spectacular comprehensive exam performance!! She did an outstanding job of presenting her previous work, and mapping out where her project will be taking her over the next couple of years, in addition to handling the questions her examining committee threw at her with skill and confidence! Well done!!
Road trip! The lab piled into a rented mini-van and embarked on their first ever road trip to the 2019 Annual CSM Conference in the lovely city of Sherbrooke! The conference was outstanding! Fei and Hindra kicked things off by presenting their work the first morning in parallel sessions, and did truly excellent jobs! Matt and Meghan then carried the momentum forward to the afternoon poster presentations, before Evan and Emma rounded things out in the final poster session. Great jobs all round!! The event also marked the final hurrah for Marie in her term as CSM President - which started with a valiant attempt at a (small) introductory opening speech in French, and ended with the President's banquet, which included the 'hat ceremony', where she had a chance to break out her wizard hat one final time (see picture...). The evening was then capped off with a Raptors win for the NBA Championship! What a way to end a conference!!
May has started and ended with diverse meetings for lab members. Fei and Evan represented the lab at the Great Lakes Natural Products Symposium in Kingston - with Fei again being recognized for her presenting prowess with the 'top talk' award, and Evan, at his first ever conference, receiving an honourable mention for his poster presentation. The end of the month saw Emma experiencing 'Science Outside the Lab' in Ottawa, which is a program that explores science, policy and its integration into society. While very different in their scope, both meetings were deemed to have been incredibly interesting and useful!
We are delighted to host one of the winner's of last year's Bay Area Science and Engineering Fair (BAESF). Evlyn Sun, who has now just finished her first year in the elite iSci program at McMaster, was recognized for her scientific excellence, in winning the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research Internship Award. This award provides winners with a paid 6 week internship in a lab working in the area of infectious disease. A huge welcome to Evlyn!
Mid April meant a train trip to Québec, thanks to an invitation to give a seminar at the Université de Montréal from friend and former colleague Christian Baron (current Vice-Dean of Research and Development). It was great to hear about the wonderful work going on in the departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, and Microbiology, Infection and Immunology. I also hear they are looking to expand their microbiology hirings, for anyone who might be interested!
It is with heavy hearts that we bid farewell to Danielle, who is off to expand her microscopy horizons as a post-doctoral fellow at UBC in Elitza Tocheva's group. But we are delighted to hear that there will continue to be Streptomyces work in her future, and look forward to hearing about her findings and successes as she embarks on this new scientific chapter!
In taking the first extended trip of her sabbatical, Marie had a whirl-wind tour through Europe, giving talks at Imperial College London (and visiting with Angelica Grundling and colleagues), the John Innes Centre (visiting with former colleagues!), the University of Wroclaw (Poland, for a mini-Streptomyces round table meeting), and ending with a talk at a cell-wall dedicated conference in Tuebingen (Germany). It was great to hear about all of the amazing science being done by everyone in each place!
February reading week = Biology Graduate Research Day! This year, Fei, Matt and Emma were all presenting their work, and did fantastic jobs! Fei was awarded an honourable mention for her talk, while Emma won best poster presentation! A further lab connection came with this year's keynote-speaker, Dr. Renée St-Onge, a former Ph.D. student from the lab who is now doing phenomenal work as a Research Scientist with Rna Diagnostics, a company that develops nucleic acid-based sensors for assessing the effectiveness of breast cancer chemotherapies.
Following on from the delightful news of our CIHR grant funding, we were also humbled and honoured to receive inaugural seed-grant funding from the David Braley Centre for Antibiotic Discovery (DBCAD), in partnership with bioinformatician Andrew McArthur, to support a new initiative looking at the control of antibiotic production in Streptomyces bacteria.
After having prepared myself for a negative grant desision for months, it was with shock and delight that the results documents indicated that our CIHR grant had been funded! A ranking of #3 and five years of funds have made this a January to remember!!!
A beautiful piece of work by Steph, Christine and Matt, together with collaborators from the University of Minnesota was instantly accepted by mBio! This never happens! Since then, the paper has been designated an 'Editor's choice' within mBio, and has been highlighted in the journal Science, as well as by the F1000 who flagged it as being a paper of significant interest! Well done to everyone involved!
There were a panoply of posters from the Elliot lab at this years IIDR trainee day! Emma, Fei and Matt were all presenting their research findings, and did a fantastic job of representing three very different research areas in the lab!
Marie returned to Winnipeg at the beginning of October, this time for a week-long workshop on 'Women in Academic Leadership', in preparation for taking on the role of Chair of the Biology department next July. It was an excellent week, filled with new language, new ideas and new tools for succeeding as an academic leader. And it was a truly superb opportunity to meet with smart, talented, creative and ambitious women who are doing amazing things in universities and colleges across the country.
With the start of the new academic year, we are delighted to welcome Evan Shepherdson and Meghan Pepler to the lab! Evan is a new Master's student in the lab, and comes to us from the University of Waterloo as a highly decorated NSERC awardee! Meghan is a new thesis student, and is completing her thesis with us as part of her Molecular Biology and Genetics program. While not new to the lab, we are also delighted that Emma (a fellow NSERC awardee) is returning to the lab for graduate work, and like Evan is staring her M.Sc. this fall.
August was defense-central, kicking off with Savannah defending her M.Sc., then David defending his M.Sc., and finally Danielle defending her Ph.D.! And they all did a terrific job!
Savannah wowed everyone with the breadth of her work - spanning in-depth bioinformatics, through to strain engineering, transcriptional analyses, and protein biochemistry! She is now working in R&D for DNA Genotek in Ottawa - and is wowing our capital with her scientific and skating proess!
David did an equally exceptional job, where his achievements in effectively marrying two very distinct project areas (alongside his herculean gene knockout accomplishments) in the lab were celebrated!
Danielle completed the trio of August defenses, and ended the month on a wonderfully strong note! Like Steph, she received 'excellent' designations across the board from her external examiner, who noted the impressive breadth and quality of Danielle's work. Danielle then followed this up with a very different experience, stepping into the teaching realm as a sessional lecturer, where the next four months were spent teaching the two classes that Marie (who is on sabbatical this year) typically teaches.
Matt and Marie were representing the lab at the Microbial Stress Response Gordon Conference, being held at Mt. Holyoke College, in South Hadley, MA. It was the perfect set-up: Marie spoke in the morning, and Matt presented his poster on complementary work in the afternoon to an informed and interested audience! Overall it was a fantastic meeting, filled with inspiring science and great conversations.
Following on from her Armand Frappier Award, Steph went on to defend her Ph.D. thesis two weeks later in spectacular fashion! She received 'excellent' grades across the board, and was ultimately the departmental nominee for the Governor General's Award. She is heading to Michael Laub's lab at MIT for her post-doc, starting in October.
It was an eventful year for the Elliot lab at the annual meeting of the Canadian Society of Microbiologists, held this year in the lovely (and hot!) city of Winnipeg. Hindra was presenting a poster, Marie was giving a talk, and Steph received the Armand Frappier Award, which is given annually to the top microbiology graduate student in Canada! Steph had the honour of closing out the meeting with an hour long talk on her Ph.D. work, and did a tremendous job! At the final banquet, the President's torch (or actually, weird hat) was passed from Andrew Lang (of Memorial University), onto Marie, who takes over as CSM president for the 2018/2019 year.
Following on from a stellar thesis presentation, Emma got word that she will be receiving a prestigious NSERC graduate scholarship, which will be supporting the first year of her Master's degree in our lab! Hurray!! - both for the scholarship, and the fact that she will be continuing her work with us!!!
Like Steph, Danielle is finishing her Ph.D. this year, and is required to give a departmental seminar. She focused on her work examining bacterial dormancy, and the super-cool strategies that bacteria use to 'wake up' and begin growing again. She gave a great presentation, and tid-bits from her talk were still being discussed by colleagues in the hallway the next day. Well done!
April marks the end of the academic year, and Christine, Emma and Sonya all gave outstanding presentations summarizing their contributions to science over the course of their 4th year theses. Congratulations go out to each of them for fantastic jobs on not only their presentations, but also their thesis work!
February-March-April are proving to be busy times for university seminars! During this time, Marie is giving talks at the University of Chicago, Western University, University of Maryland and the Ohio State University.
Thanks very much to Dr. Sean Crosson (Chicago), Dr. David Heinrichs (Western), Dr. Wade Winkler (Maryland) and Dr. Kou-San Ju (Ohio State) for the invitations, and the opportunity to hear about the fantastic science going on at each of these institutions!
Huge congratulations to Steph and Rachèle on their marriage! - the lab family expands!! Celebrations were marked in the lab with (by request) chocolate cake with caramel and sprinkles!
Wishing you both a lifetime of love and happiness!
Reading week marked the 5th annual Graduate Research Day within the Biology Department, and the Elliot lab was out in full force! Savannah, Fei and Danielle all gave outstanding presentations on their (very different) research areas, while David and Steph opted to showcase their work in poster formats. Savannah and Danielle were awarded 'Top Talks' for their sections, while Steph was recognized with an award for 'Top Microbiology/Plant Paper' published in the last year. Great job by everyone!
Ph.D. students in their final year are required to present their work within the Biology Seminar Series. Steph's seminar was scheduled for February, and she opted to focus her talk on her 'exploration' work. She did a fantastic job: there were a ton of questions at the end from people of all disciplines (suggesting that it was readily accessible to everyone!), and the feedback on her story was universally positive. Well done!
To celebrate the publication of Fei's recent commentary in the Journal of Bacteriology, in collaboration with Dr. Kou-San Ju from Ohio State University, she opted for a lab skating extravaganza! Savannah again proved to be the consummate instructor, and everyone had (i) a great time, and (ii) emerged from the evening fully intact! Success all round!
January has been a busy conference month for Marie. First up was the excellent Sensory Transduction in Microorganisms Gordon Conference in Ventura, Califoria, followed immediately Natural Products - a special conference put on by the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology in Clearwater Florida. It was the first time attending both conferences for our group, and each of them provided outstanding opportunities to learn about cool new science and meet new colleagues (and reconnect with others!).
We are excited to welcome Alexandria Amadasun and Yordan Stoyonov to the lab! Alexandria and Yordan are 3rd year co-op students in the Molecular Biology and Genetics program here at McMaster, and once their 8 month co-op terms are finished, they will be staying on for their 4th year thesis work. Alexandria is being supported by a prestigious NSERC USRA scholarship, and Yordan is supported by a new BioTalent initiative. Welcome to you both!
Marie was hugely honoured to be invited by the graduate students at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany, to speak in the seminar series run by the Jena School for Microbial Communication. It was fantastic to meet with many different faculty members and trainees, and to hear about the outstanding work going on in many areas of microbial communication and natural product biosynthesis!
Each year the Canadian Council of Undergraduate Biology Chairs (CCUBC) gathers, and considers nominations from across the country for the most innovative and impactful paper published by a Biology graduate student. This year, Steph and her eLife paper were deemed the winners! Steph received her award during the annual meeting of the CCUBC this November in Vineland - just down the road from McMaster. Congratulations Steph!
October marks the annual IIDR Trainee Day, and this year we were represented amazingly well at all levels! Christine - fresh off her NSERC USRA poster presentation - was presenting her undergraduate co-op work, alongside Savannah, Fei and David, who were showcasing their graduate work to date. They all did fantastic jobs presenting their science! Steph was this year's recipient of the Michael Kamin Hart Memorial Award for the top graduate student, exemplifying academic excellence, leadership and enthusiasm for science. Steph gave a great talk, and despite speaking right before lunch, kept everyone completely enthralled.
Following on from Steph's eLife paper out earlier this year, we were invited to contribute a review focussing on the regulation of Streptomyces exploration. This was a great chance to highlight recent results that are shedding light on the control of Streptomyces development in all its forms, and to identify the big questions still remaining regarding the factors that impact exploration.
The beginning of the new school term marks a further expansion of the lab! Joining us are Dr. Hindra, a post-doctoral fellow who has spent the last few years in the lab of Prof. Ben Shen at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida, Matt Zambri, an M.Sc. student joining us from the University of Ottawa, and Sonya Turvey, a new 4th year undergraduate thesis student. Welcome to you all!
Early September marked a major milestone for Matt (Moody), as he defended his Ph.D. thesis! To no one's surprise (although to Matt's huge relief), his defense went fantastically well! Matt has always been a voracious reader of the scientific literature, and his defense really gave him an opportunity to shine: he very effectively dealt with all questions thrown at him by a challenging defense examining committee. It was a full-on family affair, as Matt was supported by his family and his in-laws, who were all left thoroughly impressed with his scientific prowess! It was also a great chance for a lab reunion, as former Ph.D. students Henry, Julia and Hindra were all there for Matt's defense, and Dave stopped by for the celebration afterwards!
It is a pleasure to welcome Sara to the lab until December! Sara is from Dr. Natalia Tschowri's lab at Humboldt University in Berlin, and is interested in connecting second messengers (like cyclic di-GMP), with aspects of Streptomyces development. Apart from being shocked at the warmth of the Canadian summer (we are more known for ice and snow, than for the heat and humidity that define southern Ontario summers!), Sara has settled in beautifully, and we are very much looking forward to working with her over the next four months!
Chris defended his M.Sc. thesis in spectacular fashion in mid-July! Contrary to all his expectations, his presentation was great, his thesis was an impressive document, and he did a terrific job of addressing all the questions that were thrown at him. This was then followed up with a trip to the Phoenix for a celebratory lab lunch and a chance for Chris to drink from The Chalice of Wisdom and share profound thoughts with his peers...
Not only have we had the opportunity to work alongside two fantastic Polish trainees, we've also had a chance to welcome several high school students to the lab this summer! Kayla Layden was visiting from Calgary for a week, and Lilian Raphael is working with us for 6 weeks, as a result of her winning the IIDR Summer Internship award at the Bay Area Science Fair this past spring. Lilian and Kayla have impressed us all with how quickly they pick up on everything, and their interest and hard-work have been appreciated! The future of science is in very good hands...
It has been a pleasure to welcome two Polish trainees to the lab - Marcin (postdoctoral fellow) and Martyna (Ph.D. student) from Prof. Dagmara Jakimowicz's lab in Wrocław, Poland, have come to the lab to gain experience with RNA isolation, sequencing and analysis. Hopefully their experiences in Canada have all been very positive - from both cultural and scientific perspectives!
In mid-June, the Elliot lab descended in full force on Waterloo, for the annual meeting of the Canadian Society of Microbiologists. David and Fei were presenteing posters, Savannah was presenting a poster in the poster competition, Steph was competing in the student oral competition, and Emma and Christine were there to absorb all the amazing microbiology being done in Canada right now. The science overall was first rate, and everyone did a fantastic job of presenting their research, and working on their networking skills. Notably, Steph won the 'ISME 8 Student Award' for a presentation that many deemed the best of the conference. And what better way to celebrate than with an Oktoberfest-themed conference dinner?!?
Savannah's review on non-coding RNAs as targets for antibiotics in Biochemical Pharmacology, has just come out! The work beautifully combines our understanding of RNA biology, with our interest in antibiotic activity. Well done Savannah!
June has been a memorable month for Renée! Not only was her paper accepted in RNA Biology, but she was also offered (and accepted) a position as a Research Scientist with RNA Diagnostics - a small biotechnology company in Sudbury that is developing RNA-based diagnostics for use in guiding cancer treatments. Félicitacions Renée!
One of the benefits that come with being an NSERC scholarship holder, is the ability to apply for funds to support travel to foreign labs. Danielle was a successful recipient of this competitive travel supplement! She has opted to head to the U.K. for three months, to the lab of Prof. Mark Buttner at the John Innes Centre, where she is gaining skills in both electron microscopy and fluorescence microscopy. We all look forward to benefiting from your expertise when you are back Danielle!
It is our pleasure to welcome Emma Mulholland to the lab! Emma will be working with us for the summer, and will be carrying on as a 4th year thesis student come September.
The International Symposium on the Biology of Actinomycetes is held every 3 years - this year being in Jeju, South Korea. Marie was invited to present Steph's work, and had the opportunity to not only hear about the latest work going on in the Streptomyces field, but also experience the wonders of Korean culture (and food!).
Huge congratulations to Savannah and Fei! Savannah has now followed her Ontario Graduate Scholarship from this past year, with an NSERC CGS-M award for the up-coming year, while Fei is the recipient of the International Excellence Award - an award reserved for outstanding international students. Well-deserved recognition for two outstanding students!
The YWCA sponsors an annual 'Hamilton Women of Distinction' event, and this year, Marie was nominated in the 'Science and Technology' category by her fabulous and inspiring friend and colleague Alba Guarné. While the award ultimately went to the very deserving Deb Sloboda, it was an enormous honour to be nominated, and to be in the company of such amazing women.
Our collaborative work with Justin Nodwell’s group at U of T continues, with the successful renewal of our grant to Cystic Fibrosis Canada! Our work is aiming to identify new antibiotics with the ability to kill key pathogens affecting those with cystic fibrosis (e.g. Pseudomonas aeruginosa).
Last summer Marie was invited to speak at the annual conference of the American Society for Microbiology, where she spoke about Steph’s work on Streptomyces exploration. Fortunately, others seemed to think that this was extremely cool, and this led to an invitation to write a review on this area for Trends in Microbiology. Once the initial exploration story was out, we were able to submit our review - and it has just been published!
Savannah was the sole Elliot lab representative presenting her work this year at the annual Biology Graduate Research Day (Renee took on the prestigious job of judging the presentations!). This was Savannah’s first poster presentation, and she did a great job of putting together an aesthetically pleasing yet informative poster, and of explaining her project to very clever non-microbiologists. Well done!
Marie made a quick trip to Fredericton at the invitation of the Biology graduate students (huge honour!) from the University of New Brunswick, to give a departmental seminar. In meeting with Dr. Shawn MacLellan (fellow microbiologist and McMaster graduate) and his lab, and other ‘small organism’ colleagues, it was great to hear about all the fantastic science going on in the Biology department!
Our productive collaboration with the Nodwell lab at U of T continues! This time, work spearheaded by Martin Daniel-Ivad in the Nodwell lab has just been published in ACS Chemical Biology. This study focuses on the effects of manipulating a regulator of antibiotic production, and how this can be used to stimulate new antibiotic production. Our contribution came in the early days of this project’s inception, and it is great to see where Martin has taken it!
Welcome to Christine Pham! – our newest recruit, who started mid-January. Christine is a 3rd year co-op student in the Molecular Biology and Genetics program here at McMaster, who has been honoured with a highly competitive NSERC undergraduate student research award for the first part of her co-op term. We are delighted to have Christine join us - with Matt and Steph being particularly excited, as Christine will be working with both of them over the course of the next year.
Steph’s eLife paper came out on Jan 3rd, and the response has been phenomenal! It was accompanied by a beautiful ‘Insight’ article by Matt Traxler and his post-doc Vineetha Zacharia, was highlighted in Nature, received a write-up in Nature Reviews Microbiology, was recommended in F1000Prime as being of special significance in its field, and was the subject of a blogpost by the British Microbiology Society (the author has a soft spot for Streptomyces!)!!
Marie was invited to speak at the EMBO Conference on 'Bacterial Morphogenesis, Survival and Virulence: Regulation in 4D', at the end of November/beginning of December in Thiruvananthapuram, India. It was an outstanding meeting, with superb science in a range of areas, and broad international representation (speakers from North America, Europe, Asia, Africa). She spoke about Steph's work, and based on the twitter response, it seems to have been very well received! Marie has returned with lots of ideas, and some potential collaborations with colleagues from around the world.
Steph's amazing work on a completely new mode of Streptomyces growth and development has just been accepted for publication in eLife (coming out on Jan 2nd!). This work has completely transformed the way that we view Streptomyces morphogenesis, and it provides unique insight into how bacteria communicate with each other, and compete with other microbes.
We have been collaborating with Dr. Rob Clubb at UCLA, to solve the structure of the Streptomyces coelicolor sortase enzyme. While the structures of several sortase enzymes have been solved, there were no structures known for the unusual Streptomyces'Class E' sortases. With contributions from Andrew and Danielle, and a lot of work by Michele and others in the Clubb lab, this work has just been accepted for publication in PLOS One!
October marked the 6th annual Institute for Infectious Disease (IIDR) Trainee Day, held at McMaster. Savannah kicked off the day with a presentation in recognition of her being one of only two recipients of the Michael Kamin Hart Award, recognizing outstanding undergraduate researchers. Matt was presenting a poster, while Steph was selected for a talk - and both won awards for the top presentation/poster!! All in all, the Elliot lab was very well represented!
Every year, the John Innes Centre (a British government research institute) in Norwich, U.K. has a 'Young Microbiologists Symposium', where excellent young microbiologists from around the world are invited to present their research findings, and meet with scientists from around the Institute. This year, Steph was invited to present her work, and based on feedback from a number of sources, did a truly outstanding job! Congratulations Steph!
We are fortunate to have three new M.Sc. students joining the group in September! David and Savannah (who is also the recipient of an Ontario Graduate Scholarship) both worked in the lab as undergraduate students, while Xiafei is joining us from Sichuan Normal University in China. They are all pursuing research in different areas (development, DNA/RNA regulation, and control of antibiotic production), and we are delighted to have such excellent scientists and fantastic people to work with!
On September 1st, Renée defended her Ph.D. thesis - and it was quite simply a superb performance. Her thesis presentation was just outstanding and her ability to answer every question with in-depth and thoughtful responses impressed her entire examining committee (her breadth of knowledge was breath-taking!). Even more impressively, Renée received straight-across-the-board 'Outstanding' designations in every aspect of her thesis, from her external examiner. Her defense performance, and her sublime thesis, coupled with her excellent academic and publication record, led her to being nominated for the Governor General's Academic Medal. A celebratory lunch at the Phoenix followed her defense, and involved drinking quality root beer from 'The Chalice of Wisdom'! We are fortunate to have Renée staying on with us for a couple of months to finish up the final experiments for her next manuscript.
Courtesy of our work on non-coding RNAs, and our more recent investigations into Streptomyces interactions with other organisms, we were invited to write a chapter for a new book titled Non-coding RNAs and Interkingdom Interactions, with a focus on Streptomyces non-coding RNAs. This was very much a collaborative effort between Matt, Steph, David and Marie, and the end result is an exciting, forward-looking chapter that highlights a number of areas for productive future investigation.
Following on from Andrew's beautiful sortase paper a few years ago, we were invited to contibute a 'methods' paper to the journal Methods in Molecular Biology, for their issue focussed on 'Bacterial Cell Wall Homeostasis'. And it has now been published! Congratulations to Andrew and Danielle for their contributions to this work!
The American Society of Microbiology's annual conference - the newly christened 'Microbe 2016' - was held mid-June in Boston. Marie was invited to present in the 'Bacterial Growth Strategies' session, and her talk seems to have gone over well! The Boston location also allowed for a mini-lab reunion with Henry and Rachel, where we were able to celebrate the fact that they had both just been promoted at Novartis!
This year's Annual Conference of the Canadian Society of Microbiologists was held at the University of Toronto. The Elliot lab was incredibly well represented, with posters being presented by Emma, Matt, Danielle, Steph and Suzanne. While not presenting their work, David and Savannah were there for moral support (and of course excellent science), and enjoyed their first conference experience!
At the end of May, Matt gave an outstanding seminar to the Biology department. His project is a complicated one, and he did a fantastic job of breaking it down, and explaining it in a way that meant it was understandable for a broad audience. Well done Matt!
At the annual 'Biology Undergraduate Symposium' - a day devoted to celebrating the work of 4th year thesis students - David and Nicole gave outstanding presentations, and both were recognized with 'top presentation' awards for their talks - David in the 'Cellular and Molecular Biology' category, and Nicole in the 'Genetics' category. Congratulations to both!
Following an invitation from Dr. Joe McCormick to come for a visit at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Marie had a chance to both present some of the latest work done by Emma and Steph, and hear about some excellent research going on in the Biological Sciences Department.
Matt and his lovely partner welcomed their first child in early April. Matt was convinced that this whole fatherhood thing would be a piece of cake, and was truly shocked to discover how much work (and how little sleep) it entails! But of course it is completely worth it. We are all so happy for the three of you!
Enormous congratulations go out to Danielle on her NSERC doctoral scholarship success, and Loryn on her summer NSERC undergraduate student research award and IIDR summer fellowship! Incredibly well deserved!
Over McMaster's reading break, Marie travelled to Texas to visit Texas A&M University, where she gave a talk in the Biochemistry and Biophysics Department at the invitation of Dr. Paul Straight. It was a fantastic visit, with a chance to hear about the excellent work going on in the Straight lab, and an opportunity to meet with a broad range of microbiologists (studying phage, bacteria, fungi) doing some amazing science!
With the new year, come some new and returning faces! Loryn Byres, a 3rd year iSci student is joining us for her 3A12 project, where she is working with Emma to understand the regulation of cryptic antibiotic clusters. Savannah has also returned from Ottawa, where she spent her final co-op placement, and is continuing her work exploring novel RNA-based regulatory systems.
Renée and Marie had the honour and pleasure of travelling to Cancun in December, for a fabulous meeting on 'Regulating with RNA in Bacteria and Archaea'. The conference covered everything from non-coding RNAs of all varieties, through to ribonucleases and CRISPR. Renée's poster was very well received (as were the free afternoons for discussing science - or wandering on the beach...), and we both returned feeling incredibly inspired, with some great ideas for future work!
At the 5th Annual IIDR Trainee Research Day, Emma was flying the Elliot lab banner, giving an outstanding talk on her (very cool) research! Well done Emma!
The 3rd Annual Biology Day was a remarkable one for the Elliot lab. The keynote speaker of this year's event was a former lab member, Dr. Henry Haiser, now an Investigator at Novartis (Boston), where he is leading a microbiome research group. Henry gave an excellent talk - it was the best possible way to start the day! From there, Danielle, Matt and Steph all presented their work (with Emma judging posters) - ultimately, Matt ended up being recognized for having given one of the top oral presentations. Well done to all of you! A celebration (and lab reunion) was held at the Phoenix afterwards...
For the next four months, we have the pleasure of working with Suzanne Boursalie, who is a 5th year Molecular Biology and Genetics Co-op student at McMaster. We are delighted to have you join us Suzanne!
Late September was a bittersweet time for all of us in the lab, as Rachel (Young) was defending her thesis. She did a tremendous job, really showing everyone how a masters thesis defense should go! The down side of all of this? - she's leaving us! But she is going on to great things, with a position in 'big pharma' in Boston. She will be missed enormously, but her scientific legacy will live on in the lab. Congratulations Rachel, and have enjoy your time in Boston!
Congratulations to Emma and her partner Sebastian, who got married in the UK at the beginning of July! - with the Canadian celebration taking place a few weeks later!
We had great lab representation at the 5th ASM Conference on Prokaryotic Cell Biology and Development, held in Washington, D.C. Marie was the co-organizer of the conference (together with Mike Laub from MIT), Emma and Danielle gave excellent talks, and Matt, Steph and Rachel did a tremendous job of presenting their work in the poster sessions. In general, the talks and posters were fabulous and inspiring, and the conference remains an all-time favourite! Washington itself was a delightful (albeit hot and humid) surprise, with the jaw-dropping memorials and outstanding (and free) museums.
The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Annual Meeting was held in New Orleans this year, and Marie was in attendance as both an Editor for one of the ASM flagship journals - Applied and Environmental Microbiology - and an Editorial Board member of the Journal of Bacteriology. It was a great opportunity to see old friends, meet the other editors/editorial board members, and to broaden horizons by attending some very diverse scientific talks (not to mention an opportunity to explore the French Quarter, listen to some great jazz, and experience fantastic Cajun cuisine!).
It is with delight that we welcome Nicole Revie and David Crisant to the lab! Nicole and David are working in the lab for the summer, and will carry on with their 4th year theses starting in September. It is great to have you both join us!!
For the second year in a row, the Elliot lab has been very well represented at the FHS Annual Awards. Emma was the very deserving recipient of the Postdoctoral Fellow Leadership Award, while Marie received an FHS Excellence in Postdoctoral Fellow Supervision award, courtesy of Emma's nomination! Emma has truly epitomized 'leadership' at all levels within the university (and beyond) during her time at McMaster, and it is great to see her hard work being celebrated in this way.
Huge congratulations go out to Danielle and Chris for their Ontario Graduate Scholarship awards! This is *the* top provincial award for graduate students, and recognizes scholastic and research excellence. Well done to both of you!
Marie was incredibly honoured to be named one of the first McMaster University Scholars. Those receiving this designation are expected to be 'complete scholars', having an internationally-recognized research program, as well as demonstrating excellence in teaching, student supervision, and service to the scientific community. It is a priviledge to be sharing this honour with the other eight faculty members at McMaster, and much of the credit for this award goes to all of the fantastic students and post-docs who have passed through the Elliot lab (and classroom) over the last 10 years!
It appears that NSERC likes RNA! Our RNA-regulation grant has been funded by NSERC for 5 years - and better still, the committee thought the work - and our research program in general - was important enough to merit a 'Discovery Accelerator Supplement'!
Marie was invited to speak in the Biological Sciences departmental seminar series at Wayne State University, by Dr. Penelope Higgs. It was great to meet with other faculty members there, and hear about the fantastic science going on in the department. It was particularly cool to hear more about Penelope's work on Myxococcus, which is another really fascinatingly complex soil bacterium with a lot of parallels to Streptomyces.
Savannah is the most recent addition to the Elliot lab, as a Molecular Biology and Genetics co-op/thesis student, and is an increasingly decorated scholar/scientist! She received an incredibly competitive NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA) for her winter term in the lab, and will also be receiving an IIDR Summer Student Fellowship for the spring/summer term! Congratulations Savannah!!
We received a wonderful email from Molecular Microbiology, just before the Family Day long weekend, letting us know that Renée's paper had been accepted. Hurray!! When Renée started in the lab, she picked up this project from Henry (former Ph.D. student in the lab), and really made it her own, driving it in some very interesting - and unexpected - directions. The result is a beautiful piece of work, that reflects the care, creativity and attention to detail that went into it by Renée, along with Henry, Emma, Mary (former post-doc in the lab), and our fantastic collaborators Natalia and Mahmoud.
All senior Ph.D. students in the department are required to present their thesis work in the form of a Departmental Seminar. Renée gave a masterclass in 'How to explain a complicated story to a general audience' in wowwing us all with a great seminar to kick off the new year. Congratulations Renée!
It is a pleasure to welcome Savannah Colameco to the lab! Savannah is in the Molecular Biology and Genetics Co-op program here at McMaster, and is joining us for a combined co-op/thesis term that runs from January through until August. We are delighted to have you join us, Savannah!
Andrew defended his M.Sc. thesis in truly superb style. He put together a beautiful thesis, and defended it with confidence and maturity, handling the tough questions with enviable finesse.
Congratulations go out to Danielle (with help from Renée, and previous students/post-docs Henry, Mary, Lauren, Daphne and Jackie!) on the acceptance of her Rpf paper in the Journal of Bacteriology! As the author list would suggest, this paper involved contributions from many people over the years, and ultimately came together thanks to a herculean effort on the part of Danielle.
Renée was selected to present her work at the 2nd annual Biology Graduate Research Day. She did an outstanding job of explaining her project to a general Biology audience, within what was a sensational day of oral and poster presentations. Congratulations to everyone involved! - there is some great science going on in our department...
The first Commonwealth Science Conference in 50 years was held in Bangalore, India at the end of November. Marie was fortunate to be one of only 30 Canadians invited to participate in an outstanding week of diverse science, covering everything from global health to materials science and climate change, and networking with people from around the world. For more information, check out the McMaster Daily News or The Economist.
In a surreal bit of scheduling, Marie spent Thanksgiving in Turkey, presenting some of Renée's work at the 17th International Symposium on the Biology of Actinomycetes (ISBA) conference. The conference, which took place just outside of İzmir, provided a great opportunity to hear about the fantastic new science going on in the Streptomyces field and a chance to (re)connect with all the great people working in this area!
Congratulations to Steph on the acceptance of her S. venezuelae RNase characterization paper in the Journal of Bacteriology! This work represents another fantastic collaboration with the lab of Joaquin Ortega, in the Biochemistry department here at McMaster.
Congratulations go out to Danielle on her 'Biology Scholarship Recognition Award', which was awarded on the basis of outstanding research activity over the last year. Well done Danielle!
Enormous congratulations go out to Steph on her Vanier award. This is the premier graduate scholarship in Canada, and amazingly, Steph is the second member of the Elliot lab to receive this incredibly prestigious scholarship, following in the very capable footsteps of Renée. Congratulations Steph! For more information, check out the McMaster Daily News.
Emma, Matt, Renée, Steph and Marie travelled to Montréal for the triennial 'IUMS' (International Union of Microbiological Societies) congress, where Renée and Emma were invited to speak in the Global Regulation and Signalling session, and Steph and Matt were presenting posters. They all did a fantastic job with their presentations, and thoroughly enjoyed a week of exciting science - not to mention the sights and social aspects on offer in Montréal...
In what is an increasingly competitive funding climate (and in THE final round of the 'old' operating grant scheme), we received the fantastic news that our CIHR grant application to the Microbiology and Infectious Disease panel had been funded for 5 years. Hurray!!
Back-to-back Ph.D. transfer/comprehensive exams for Danielle and Steph were scheduled for mid-June. And both performed spectacularly well!! Welcome to the world of possibilities that is the Ph.D. program!
Given the lab's connection with the IIDR and Marie's cross-appointment in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, Emma decided take the plunge and get involved in the Faculty of Health Sciences Research Plenary. And did she make a splash!! She was awarded the 'Postdoctoral Fellow International Trainee Award for Excellence', and was recognized as having given the best talk by a post-doctoral fellow (along with her partner Sebastian in Eric Brown's lab for best post-doctoral poster, and our collaborator Tamiza Nanji from Alba Guarné's lab, who was awarded 'Best Masters Student Talk')!
April has proven to be a blockbuster month for trainees in the lab! Emma is the very worthy recipent of a DSECT fellowship, Matt and Steph were awarded NSERC doctoral scholarships (although Steph has had to turn her's down, as a bigger prize still awaits - more news to come here soon...), Chris (our newest grad student, starting in Sept 2014) received a Masters level NSERC scholarship, Rachel has received an Ontario Graduate Scholarships to complement her NSERC from last year, and Andrew was awarded another Ontario Graduate Scholarship! AND our newest lab member, Dan Seale, who is joining us as a Research Assistant for the summer (and carrying on with his thesis in the fall), was the worthy recipient of an IIDR Summer Fellowship!
As the end of the academic year draws to a close, Chris (4th year thesis student) and Ahmed (3rd year project student) had the opportunity to present their research findings to friends, colleagues and other members of the department. They both gave excellent presentations, and represented the lab incredibly well! Great job guys!
Success for the Elliot lab in the most recent round of infrastructure funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation/Ontario Research Fund!! Together with the Zhu lab, we have successfully secured funding for a swishy new phosphorimager for the department! More information can be found here.
The last chapter of Hindra's PhD work was just published in PLoS One! Hindra did a fantastic job of pulling together a challenging story and project, with a bit of help from Matt and Steph who assisted in filling in the final missing pieces. In Hindra's honour, a celebratory lunch ensued! - we were unable to find an Indonesian restaurant close by, so Matt and Steph settled on a favourite (Pizza Hut) of their's instead...
There was a strong Elliot lab presence at the 1st ever Biology Graduate Students Day, with Matt and Danielle giving talks, and Steph presenting a poster. It was an outstanding day (that culminated with a great evening in The Phoenix...), and they all did an excellent job of showcasing their research findings to date.
Congratulations go out to Julia and Dave as they move on to the next chapter in their scientific careers! Julia will be leaving us to join the medical writing team at The Adpharm - a pharmaceutical advertising agency, while Dave is taking up a Medical Associate position with Meducom Health Inc. - a health communications, marketing and education firm. The future of medical writing is in very good hands...
We were well represented at the 2013 IIDR Trainee Day in both the talks, where Steph was invited to speak about her research, and in the poster session, where Matt and Danielle presented their research findings. They all did a great job!
All her hard work paid off, as Julia's Ph.D. defense went fantastically well! Appropriately, this coincided with 'post-doc appreciation week', which naturally meant that this morphed into 'Dr. Julia and Dr. Emma appreciation week'!
Matt's work (with help from Rachel and Steph) was accepted for publication in BMC Genomics - a highly respected genetics/genomics journal. After much deliberation, Matt and Steph decided that their celebratory lunch would be held at the 'Pancake House' - not everyone was super enthusiastic, but we all ended up being pleasantly surprised with the quality (and quantity!) of food! Congratulations to Matt, Rachel and Steph!
It has been a scholarship bonanza for Elliot lab members! Enormous congratulations go out to Rachel and Steph for their NSERC scholarships, and to Andrew and Matt for their OGS awards! The 2013-2014 academic year is off to a great start!
We are delighted to have Chris Firby (Biochemistry) and Coral Fairhead (Molecular Biology and Genetics Co-op) join us for the summer! Not only are they super-talented scientists, and fantastically nice people, but they are also highly decorated! Chris is a very deserving recipient of an NSERC undergraduate student research award, while Coral is supported in part by an IIDR summer fellowship! Well done to you both!
Collaborative work between the Elliot lab and the Nodwell lab (formerly at McMaster, now at U of T) has received funding from Cystic Fibrosis Canada! This grant is a renewal that allows us to carry on our work of identifying and characterizing new antibiotics that can treat bacterial infections that are notoriously antibiotic resistant - and particularly harmful for those with cystic fibrosis.
Marie was invited to speak at the Society for General Microbiology's annual meeting held in Manchester, UK in March. While the weather was unusually wintery, the science discussed was hot! Streptomyces work was particularly well represented (which naturally meant that it was great)! Emma was also speaking on her Ph.D./earlier post-doc work, and did a tremendous job. This meeting followed an earlier one in Poland (Bacterial Networks - or more lovingly referred to as 'bacnet'), which was equally fantastic.
After years of panicking about her comprehensive exam, Renée wowed us all with her knowledge, and her lovely rendition of 'S-adenosyl methionine' 'en français'. The day is also immortalized on the lab 'quoteboard', with the honour coming courtesy of the 'Okey dokey' phrase used to kick off Renée's presentation...
Julia's work on a novel nucleoid-associated protein in Streptomyces (and other actinobacteria) has just been accepted for publication in Nucleic Acids Research - one of the premier journals for all things DNA/RNA-related. Congratulations Julia! - and thanks to our wonderful collaborators in the Guarné lab!
Emma Sherwood, the latest post-doc to join the Elliot group, touched down on Canadian soil over the Christmas holidays! Emma completed her Ph.D. (and short post-doc) with Prof. Mervyn Bibb at the John Innes Centre in the UK, and we are absolutely delighted to have her join us!
Daphne's (aka Chan Gao's) Ph.D. work has been accepted for publication in mBio! (one of the top microbiology journals). It ended up being a beautiful story, that came together with the assistance of several others in the lab - specifically Hindra (who stepped up to help with the footprinting experiments) and Charles, who, as an undergraduate, took on the task of assembling large data sets into a readily decipherable figure!
In an invited talk, Julia presented her research findings to the Biology Department, as part of the Departmental Seminar Series, and did a spectacular job! She has set the bar high for those who are following...
We are incredibly pleased to have Danielle Sexton and Stephanie Jones join us for their graduate studies! While their official start is September, they've both been keen to get going, so have been in the lab for a few weeks familiarizing themselves with everything and getting their projects started. Welcome!!
It has been an eventful July for Hindra, starting with the birth of his second beautiful daughter, and finishing with a very successful Ph.D. defense! Hurray! The next chapter of Hindra's research career is now set to begin at The Scripps Institute in Florida with Prof. Ben Shen.
Renée has been awarded a Vanier Scholarship - this award is *the* most prestigious scholarship available to graduate students in Canada, and Renée is only the second ever winner from the Biology department! Well done Renée!! This supreme achievement led to a full-page write-up in the IIDR (Institute for Infectious Disease Research) News.
Andrew and Marie travelled to the Mount Snow Resort in Vermont for the Bacterial Cell Surfaces Gordon Conference. It was a glorious week of all things cell wall related, and both of them have returned with ideas galore!
Matt has joined the ranks of 'Ph.D. candidate' in the lab, with an excellent performance in his transfer exam!! Congratulations Matt!
We are delighted to have Rachel Young and Alison Berzins join us for the summer! Congratulations also go out to Rachel who was awarded an NSERC USRA, and an IIDR Summer Fellowship!
Dave, Julia, Matt, Renée and Marie all hit Montréal for the ever-fantastic (and newly named) Prokaryotic Cell Biology and Development Conference. The science was inspiring, and the social interactions were all très bien!!
Huge congratulations go out to Daphne on her wildly successful Ph.D. defense on April 20th! Great job! Daphne is looking forward to starting the next chapter of her life in The City by the Bay, San Francisco!
Hard work by Andrew, Dave and Christina led to our latest publication in Molecular Microbiology! Andrew also revealed an unexpectedly impressive artistic side, when he recreated Michelangelo's 'Hands of God and Adam' using Streptomyces hyphae, and had it accepted as the 'cover' for this month's journal!
Marie and Hindra travelled to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for the 16th International Symposium on the Biology of Actinomycetes, which featured a great range of talks on natural product biochemistry and Streptomyces development. The location wasn't bad either...
Congratulations go out to Dave for his successful Ph.D. defense on September 14th! Champagne (and sparkling juices) flowed, while his colleagues tried to convince him that a 'Dr. Capstick' tattoo was a good idea...
A warm welcome to Talha Qureshi who is joining Jackie in the lab as a 4th year thesis student. We look forward to amazing contributions from both of you!
With the successful completion of his transfer exam, Andrew moves up the ranks to Ph.D. student. Congratulations Andrew! - great job!
Our newest Ph.D. student, Renée St-Onge arrived from New Brunswick just in time for the July heat wave. Renée brings with her a wealth of skills from her time in the lab of Dr. Martin Filion and in the private sector, working for Environmental Proteomics. Welcome Renée!
After years of fighting with 'the peptides from hell', patience and persistence have paid off for Dave, as his work has been accepted for publication in PNAS! Celebrations ensued with an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet!
A big welcome to our summer students for 2011 - Charles Yin and Jackie Leonard! We are looking forward to a summer of great science, and loads of fun! Congratulations also go to Charles for being awarded an Ontario Genomics Institute Fellowship for his summer work!
April 21st marked an extremely successful Ph.D. thesis defense by Henry! Henry is now off to Harvard to do a post-doc in the lab of Dr. Peter Turnbaugh, with a much-sought after CIHR post-doctoral fellowship! Congratulations Henry!
An NSERC equipment grant application by our lab, together with the labs of Drs. Juliet Daniel, Ben Evans, Turlough Finan and Bhagwati Gupta, was successful! We will now be able to do our qPCR down the hall, rather than across the road. Hurray!
A collaborative project between the Elliot lab and the Nodwell lab (Biochemistry) has received funding from 'Cystic Fibrosis Canada', to support our work in identifying new antibiotics that can kill the bacterial pathogens plaguing those living with cystic fibrosis.
Matt has been awarded a 'Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship in Science and Technology! Congratulations Matt!
Patricia Pak has become the first graduate of the Elliot lab! She successfully defended her Master's thesis in August, and is now off to explore the non-microbial world of physiotherapy at the University of Toronto.
Hindra and Patricia's paper "Regulation of a novel gene cluster involved in secondary metabolite production in Streptomyces coelicolor" has just been accepted by the Journal of Bacteriology.
The Elliot lab took on the Canadian Society of Microbiologists Annual Conference, held at McMaster. Andrew was selected to participate in the poster competition, while Hindra and Henry were amongst an elite group of only 12 students invited to participate in the 'Student Symposium'. Henry took home the award for 'Best Graduate Student Presentation'.
Henry and Hindra have both been awarded Ontario Graduate Scholarships - a research award from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation that recognizes their outstanding scientific contributions during their graduate studies.
Kristy Shulist and Michael Hewak have both joined the lab as summer students (and NSERC USRA scholars!), and will be carrying on their work as part of their undergraduate theses in the coming school year.
Marie has successfully renewed her Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) for another 5 years. Tier 2 Chairs are awarded to emerging researchers with the potential to become world leaders in their field.
Julia has just been awarded the prestigious Canada Graduate Scholarship from NSERC. This is a national award that recognizes excellence in graduate studies.
Henry and Mary's paper 'Cell wall hydrolases affect germination, vegetative growth and sporulation in Streptomyces coelicolor" has just been published in the Journal of Bacteriology.
Marie was off to Shanghai, China to present Henry and Mary's work at the ISBA meeting.
Marie, Henry and Julia took on Boston/Cambridge for the always excellent ASM Prokaryotic Development meeting. Henry and Julia were both presenting posters.