Preparing for a Career in Medicine

Jordan Roach 1Widespread use of antibiotics fosters the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria. These bacteria evolve enzymes that modify antibiotics to make them useless. Jordan Roach wants to understand how bacterial enzymes that deactivate antibiotics work. By studying how these enzymes function, he hopes to contribute to the discovery of novel drugs to fight antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Jordan’s faculty mentor, Engin Serpersu, professor of biochemistry & cellular and molecular biology, said Jordan came to his lab seeking a project that would be beneficial for his future educational and career goals. “He was particularly interested in working with proteins on a topic related to medicine. The project we settled on was the optimization of expression, isolation and characterization of an enzyme (aminoglycoside N3-acetyltransferase-Ib (AAC-lb) that causes resistance to aminoglycoside antibiotics. Jordan has worked diligently, accomplishing more than some of the rotating graduate students.”

The history of working on the AAC-lb enzyme in the Serpersu laboratory had been challenging because at first this enzyme precipitated during isolation, rendering it unusable. Jordan tackled the problem, trying a number of approaches that included a variety of expression conditions and even re-cloning the plasmid. By the end of the semester, he was successful in expressing the enzyme in soluble fraction in sufficient quantity for purification and biophysical studies. Jordan is currently trying to determine the kinetic properties of the AAC-lb.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Serpersu lab. Professor Serpersu has been an outstanding mentor who has not only assisted me in establishing a firm foundation in protein biochemistry and biophysics, but has also sharpened my interpersonal communication skills in the natural and physical sciences,” said Jordan.

Jordan’s dream to conduct research at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is about to come true. He has been selected to join the Hatley lab at St. Jude through the Pediatric Oncology Education Program following graduation.

After his internship at St. Jude, Jordan intends to pursue combined MD, PhD degrees through a Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) or another MD, PhD granting program. Although he is open to all fields of medicine, Jordan has special interests in pediatric neurological surgery and translational research.