BA (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) from Franklin & Marshall College.
I am interested in the evolution of antibiotic resistance and the population dynamics of infectious diseases and their treatment. Hence, I’m currently working to help improve our understanding of the within-host population and evolutionary dynamics of tuberculosis chemotherapy. A number of lines of evidence, including theoretical work from our lab (powered by multiple cups of coffee and tea - tea for the sophisticated, and coffee for the…err, others), suggests that the existence of a slowly-dividing (latent) bacterial subpopulation during a tuberculosis infection increases the term of therapy and the likelihood of generating multi-drug resistant bacteria. I am using mathematical models, and experiments with Mycobacterium marinum (a time and cost-effective surrogate for M. tuberculosis) and the leopard frog Rana pipiens (an ethical alternative to people) to extend these studies empirically as well as theoretically. Of particular concern in the studies I am and will be performing are the impact of latency on tuberculosis chemotherapy and the effects of non-compliance on term of treatment and the ascent of resistance. The (admittedly pretentious-sounding) goal of this project is to develop effective antibiotic tuberculosis treatment strategies that will both reduce both the term of therapy and the likelihood of treatment failure due to the evolution of resistance during its course.
Udekwu, K, Parrish, N, Ankomah, P, Baquero, F and BR Levin (2009) Functional relationship between cell density and the efficacy of antibiotics. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 63:745-767 [PDF]
P. Ankomah: Within-host population and evolutionary dynamics of tuberculosis and its treatment: A PhD Dissertation Proposal. Presented at the Microbial Population Biology Gordon Conference, July 2009 [PDF]