Nathan  Shankar , Ph.D.

Director of Graduate Programs; Professor and Vice-Chair

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Phone (405) 271-6481  x47214
Fax (405) 271-7505
Office   CPB 305

Research Summary

Research Interests
The increasing incidence of antibiotic resistance has brought a new sense of urgency to the discovery and development of antibacterial drugs. Effectively conquering antibiotic resistance will require expanding the available targets. One approach to this problem is to identify new targets by panning the genomes of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Enterococci, Gram-positive bacteria normally growing as commensal organisms of the gut, have emerged as a leading cause of nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infections and are frequently resistant to multiple antibiotics. Although the ability of Enterococcus faecalis to cause serious disease is well recognized, not much is known about enterococcal virulence factors that contribute to pathogenesis. For instance, factors that may influence the ability of enterococci to colonize host tissues, translocate across epithelial barriers or survive in grossly different host environments are poorly understood.
Our laboratory is interested in the identification of potential virulence determinants in E. faecalis that may play a role in enterococcal pathogenesis, with particular emphasis on enterococcal surface components. Our long term interest is in the development of novel therapeutic approaches to treat serious enterococcal infections by targeting bacterial components that aid the bacteria in causing disease.

Education & Experience

  • Osmania University, India B.S. (Hons)
  • University of Madras, India M.S.
  • University of Madras, India Ph.D.
Professional Experience
  • University of Oklahoma HSC - Research Assistant Professor, 1995
  • University of Oklahoma HSC - Assistant Professor, 1998
  • University of Oklahoma HSC - Associate Professor (Tenured), 2004
  • University of Oklahoma HSC - Professor, 2009

Honors & Service

  • OUHSC Office of Research Outstanding Research Award 2002
  • Regents' Award for Superior Research and Creative Activity 2006
  • AACP Academic Leadership Fellow 2007
  • President's Associates Presidential Professorship 2008
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Selected Publications & Presentations

  1. Zou J, Shankar N. Surface protein Esp enhances pro-inflammatory cytokine expression through NF-?B activation during enterococcal infection Innate Immunity. 2016; 22: 31-39.
  2. Zou J, Shankar N. The opportunistic pathogen Enterococcus faecalis resists phagosome acidification and autophagy to promote intracellular survival in macrophages Cellular Microbiology. 2016; 18: 831-843.
  3. Zou J, Shankar N. Roles of TLR/MyD88/MAPK/NF-?B Signaling Pathways in the Regulation of Phagocytosis and Proinflammatory Cytokine Expression in Response to E. faecalis Infection PLoS ONE. 2015; 10: e0136947.
  4. Zou J, Shankar N. Enterococcus faecalis infection activates phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase signaling to block apoptotic cell death in macrophages Infection and Immunity. 2014; 82: 5132-5142.
  5. Zou J, Baghdayan A, Payne S, Shankar N. A TIR domain protein from E. faecalis attenuates NF-?B activation induced by lipopolysaccharide and promotes intracellular survival in host cells but is not required for virulence in a murine peritonitis infection model PLOS ONE. 2014; 9: e:112010.
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Current Grants Awarded

  • NIH (NIDCR) R21 - Host immune response to E. faecalis biofilm.

Completed Grants

  • NIH - Role of E. faecalis ESP in biofilms and UTI
  • American Heart Association (AHA) - Role of an AraC-like regulator in Enterococcus faecalis pathogenesis (Postdoc Fellowship - P.S. Coburn)
  • OCAST - Role of pili in enterococcal virulence
  • OCAST - Genome plasticity and mobility in virulent Enterococci
  • AHA - Role of Esp in endocarditis