University of Minnesota
MICaB Graduate Program
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Current Students

Nicholas Dillon

Thesis Advisor: Tony Baughn

Year entered: 2011

Degrees received:
B.S., University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, 2005
M.S., University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, MN 2011

Honors and Awards:

  • Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, 2016-2017
  • Recipient of the 2015 MICaB Golden Pipetman award, 2015
  • Awarded an outstanding student poster award at the 2015 MMPC conference, 2015
  • Predoctoral fellow, Lung Sciences T32 Training Grant, 2014-present
  • MICaB student representative, 2014-2015
  • Recipient of the University of Minnesota Council of Graduate Students Travel Award, 2014
  • Member of MICaB Career Development Committee, 2013-present
  • MICaB Graduate program Travel Award, 2013

Thesis research:
The mode of action of pyrazinamide (PZA), a first line drug for the treatment of tuberculosis, is unknown. The effectiveness of PZA treatment in humans is declining due to the continuous emergence and spread of drug resistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis. As PZA is a pro-drug that must be activated to pyrazinoic acid (POA) by the non-essential M. tuberculosis enzyme pyrazinamidase, the majority of PZA resistant M. tuberculosis clinical isolates possess non-functional pyrazinamidase alleles. As target site mutations are not known to contribute to clinical PZA resistance, the as yet unidentified target for POA represents a viable focus for future tuberculosis drug development. My thesis research is therefore focused on identifying the mode of action of POA against M. tuberculosis to enable the discovery of second generation drugs that will circumvent PZA resistance.