Assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics
- By Megan Morley Thomas
Aimee Shen, assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics is in good company. Shen was among twenty-two of the nation’s most innovative young researchers to be named a 2012 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences. She joins a prestigious community that includes Nobel Prize winners, MacArthur Fellows, and recipients of the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award.
Did you know? ...
- Shen is among three UVM College of Medicine faculty members to have received the distinguised Pew award, including Ralph Budd, M.D., professor of medicine and director of immunobiology, and Sylvie Doublie, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and molecular genetics.
This rigorously competitive program gives recipients $240,000 over four years to pursue their research without restriction. To be considered, applicants from all areas of physical and life sciences related to biomedical study must be nominated by an invited institution and demonstrate both excellence and innovation in their research. Shen was one of those scientists.
“Through collaborating, I’ve become versed in how to apply different ‘tools’ to the questions I’m asking,” says Shen. “At the interface, discoveries happen.”
Her research approach relies on a broad research “toolbox.” She asks the same questions from different perspectives -- including biochemistry, bacterial genetics, structural and chemical biology -- to gain a better understanding of molecular mechanisms. While a doctoral student, her research focused on the foodborne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes, which has the ability to grow at refrigerator temperatures. Shen, who wanted to learn how temperature is sensed at the molecular level of the bacteria, was able to determine a novel method for regulating the gene expression of the flagella that help these bacteria move. As a postdoctoral fellow, she switched to a new organism and different approach and devised a procedure for isolating bacterial proteins that share a particular activity, providing a new landscape for drug discovery.
Shen, who joined the UVM College of Medicine faculty in 2011, received a B.S. in microbiology from the University of Alberta, and a doctoral degree in microbiology from Harvard University. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University.