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Current Lab Members

  • Chris Sassetti

    Chris Sassetti, PhD


    Tuberculosis remains a serious threat to global health. The development of transformational new interventions for this disease relies on understanding the fundamental biology that determines the pathogenesis of the disease. We are a diverse group of bacteriologists, immunologists, and geneticists that are focused on understanding the critical interactions between Mycobacterium tuberculosis and its human host that determine disease progression and treatment response.


  • Ryan Finethy

    Ryan Finethy, PhD


    Ryan obtained a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of New Hampshire. He then moved on to Duke University where he earned his Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology working in the laboratory of Dr. Jorn Coers. In the Sassetti lab, Ryan's work focuses on using a combination of natural genetic variation and genetic engineering to identify host factors/pathways associated with Mtb infection outcome and to define the mechanisms by which these host factors/pathways influence disease.


  • Eleni Jaecklein

    Eleni Jaecklein, MSc

    PhD Student

    Mycobacterium tuberculosis is metabolically flexible which contributes to its success as an obligate pathogen of humans. During infection, Mtb typically persists in the phagosome of macrophages where it must acquire nutrients from the host. Eleni’s work focuses on identifying the host factors that control the accessibility of these nutrients during infection.  Eleni received her B.S in Biological Science from Florida State University and her MSc in Integrated Immunology from the University of Oxford.


  • Mike Luna

    Mike Luna

    PhD Student

    Mike is interested in the varied ways in which bacteria adapt to host and antibiotic pressures. In particular, Mike is investigating how homopolymers throughout the Mycobacterium tuberculosis genome can act as a source of genetic variation. Prior joining the Sassetti Lab, Mike graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in biology. 


  • Lisa Lojek

    Lisa Lojek, PhD


    Lisa received her B.S. in Biological Sciences from Ohio University. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from Vanderbilt University in the lab of Dr. Eric Skaar, where she studied metal regulation in Staphylococcus aureus and heme degradation in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.  In the Sassetti lab, Lisa is focused on better understanding carbon catabolism in various Mycobacterial species. 



  • Samantha Nelson

    Samantha Nelson

    PhD Student

    Samantha Nelson completed her undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL. She is fascinated by the ability of bacteria to acquire nutrients and alter their metabolism to suit inhospitable host environments. Currently, she is characterizing an intramembrane protease inMycobacterium tuberculosisrequired for iron homeostasis and growth in mice.


  • Peter Oluoch

    Peter Oluoch, M.S.

    PhD Student

    Peter’s work focuses on the integration of computational biology and microbial genomics to identify transient genetic variations within homopolymeric tracts that characterize the adaptive evolution of drug resistance/tolerance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Peter received his B.S in Biochemistry from Kenyatta University and M.S in Medical Biotechnology from Maseno University, both in Kenya and has previously worked  on cytokine polymorphic variations in endemic Burkitt lymphoma and genomic signatures of artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum.


  • Megan Proulx

    Megan Proulx

    Research Associate

    Megan came to UMass in 2008, after graduating from the combined BS/MS program with a degree in Biomedical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She started in the laboratory of Dr. Jon Goguen studying the basic mechanisms by which Yersinia pestis induces disease and evades the host immune response. Megan transitioned to the Sassetti lab in 2013. Her work now focuses on trying to understand how host genetics influences TB pathogenesis and the implications this has regarding diagnosis, vaccination, and treatment.


  • Charlotte Reames

    Charlotte Reames

    Research Associate

    Despite a concerted scientific effort, treatment for tuberculosis continues to be slow, difficult, and variably effective. In order to understand the many challenges involved in tuberculosis treatment, it's essential to study the genetic makeup of M. tuberculosis and its relatives.With a focus on bacterial genetics, Charlotte contributes to a variety of the lab's ongoing projects. She received her B.S. at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where she studied the mycobacterial stress response in the lab of Dr. Scarlet Shell. 



  • John Williams, PhD



  • Long-time Collaborators

    Long-time Collaborators

  • Kenan Murphy

    Kenan Murphy, PhD

    Assistant Professor

    Kenan is a long-time collaborator of the Sassetti lab, earning the title of "Recombination Guru".  He is the inventor of several genome engineering methods for both gram-negative organisms and mycobacteria.


  • Kadamba Papavinasasundaram

    Kadamba Papavinasasundaram, PhD

    Assistant Professor

    Sundaram is an expert in all-things mycobacterial, contributing to our understanding of DNA repair, cell wall biogenesis, and transmembrane signaling.