November 2, 2015In superbug outbreaks, bacteria have demonstrated an ability to become resistant to antibiotics by altering their complex cell membranes. Unfortunately, there is limited understanding of how. Because of this lack of knowledge, the amount of new and improved antibiotics has declined during a time when persistent chronic infections are a growing concern. Professor Shikha Nangia’s research “Simulating Gram-Negative Bacterial Outer Membrane: A Coarse Grain Model,” will contribute to solving this problem and graces the cover of the Journal of Physical Chemistry this November. Nangia’s research group has developed a model that looks closely at bacteria’s cell membranes, which serve as a protective barrier against toxins. Understanding the molecular structure of this wall is important in combating bacterial resistance. Her team’s model makes it possible to study these bacterial membranes at a molecular level to study how they fight off attacks from antibiotics. “The better researchers are able to understand these membranes, the better we can combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” says Nangia, “This work will help lead to the development of novel antibiotics with the ability to fight infections caused by multi-drug resistant bacteria which are threatening the global public health.” The artistic rendering on the Journal of Physical Chemistry cover was created in Nangia’s lab. “It is incredibly satisfying to combine my passion for science and art in one medium,” says Nangia.