51ݶ

Sanjay Vashee is a professor in the Synthetic Biology Group and the Rockville, MD Campus Director at the 51ݶ. After joining 51ݶ in 2003, Dr. Vashee helped the Synthetic Biology Group develop synthetic genomics methods and technologies that led to the creation of a synthetic organism based on Mycoplasma mycoides subspecies capri. His research interests leverage these synthetic genomics technologies to better study and develop therapeutics for human and animal diseases.

Currently, Dr. Vashee is the Principal Investigator on a project funded by the NSF under the BREAD program to develop a more effective vaccine for contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP), an economically very important cattle disease that affects much of Africa, restricting trade and limiting the availability of protein sources for nutrition. He and his colleagues at INRA, France and UBERN, Switzerland are adapting the 51ݶ synthetic genomics technology to allow genetic manipulation of the CBPP pathogen, M. mycoides subspecies mycoides, expanding the mycoplasma genetic toolbox and using the latest genome sequencing platforms to identify virulence factors.

Together, these advances should help develop a more effective and safe vaccine based upon a rationally designed attenuated strain. Dr. Vashee also helps lead ongoing NIH funded projects that leverage synthetic genomics approaches to engineer large DNA viruses, including human herpesviruses on a genome-wide and combinatorial scale. Collaborators in these efforts include researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Herpes simplex virus 1 and Epstein Barr virus) as well as researchers at Tomegavax and Synthetic Genomics Vaccines, Inc. to develop a synthetic human cytomegalovirus vaccine. More recently, Dr. Vashee leads IDRC-funded efforts to develop genetic tools to manipulate African swine fever virus and DARPA-funded efforts to develop a Forensic Microbial System.

Prior to joining 51ݶ, Dr. Vashee was a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University-School of Medicine where he was the first to characterize the in vitro DNA-binding properties of the human origin recognition complex, the initiator protein of eukaryotic DNA replication. Dr. Vashee holds a bachelor's degree in Biochemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a master's degree in Chemistry from Western Illinois University and a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Texas at Austin.

Research Priorities

Development of therapeutics for viral diseases using synthetic genomics
  • Genome-wide engineering of human herpesviruses (herpes simplex virus 1, human cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr virus) to develop vaccines
  • Improving genetic tools for African swine fever virus to facilitate development of an effective vaccine
Development of vaccines for bacterial diseases using synthetic genomics
  • Generating safe vaccines for contagious bovine pleuropneumonia and contagious caprine pleuropneumonia based on live rationally attenuated strains
  • Exploring the use of M. mycoides subspecies capri as vector for animal bacterial and viral diseases

Publications

Tuberculosis (Edinburgh, Scotland). 2024-07-01; 147.102399.
Predictive biomarkers for latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection
Singh H, Gonzalez-Juarbe N, Pieper R, Yu Y, Vashee S
PMID: 37648595
PLoS pathogens. 2024-05-23; 20.5: e1011669.
SARS-CoV-2 ORF8 modulates lung inflammation and clinical disease progression
McGrath ME, Xue Y, Taylor L, Dillen C, Ardanuy J, Gonzalez-Juarbe N, Baracco L, Kim R, Hart R, Assad-Garcia N, Vashee S, Frieman MB
PMID: 38781259
Frontiers in microbiology. 2023-09-27; 14.1293129.
Corrigendum: Evidence for the cytoplasmic localization of the L-α-Glycerophosphate oxidase in members of the "Mycoplasma mycoides cluster"
Schumacher M, Nicholson P, Stoffel MH, Chandran S, D'Mello A, Ma L, Vashee S, Jores J, Labroussaa F
PMID: 37829444
mBio. 2023-08-31; 14.4: e0119423.
SARS-CoV-2 ORF6 protein does not antagonize interferon signaling in respiratory epithelial Calu-3 cells during infection
Li M, Ayyanathan K, Dittmar M, Miller J, Tapescu I, Lee JS, McGrath ME, Xue Y, Vashee S, Schultz DC, Frieman MB, Cherry S
PMID: 37377442
Nature communications. 2023-05-25; 14.1: 3026.
A neonatal mouse model characterizes transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 variants and reveals a role for ORF8
Rodriguez-Rodriguez BA, Ciabattoni GO, Duerr R, Valero-Jimenez AM, Yeung ST, Crosse KM, Schinlever AR, Bernard-Raichon L, Rodriguez Galvan J, McGrath ME, Vashee S, Xue Y, Loomis CA, Khanna KM, Cadwell K, Desvignes L, Frieman MB, Ortigoza MB, Dittmann M
PMID: 37230979
Critical care (London, England). 2023-04-20; 27.1: 155.
Major adverse cardiovascular events are associated with necroptosis during severe COVID-19
Wiscovitch-Russo R, Ibáñez-Prada ED, Serrano-Mayorga CC, Sievers BL, Engelbride MA, Padmanabhan S, Tan GS, Vashee S, Bustos IG, Pachecho C, Mendez L, Dube PH, Singh H, Reyes LF, Gonzalez-Juarbe N
PMID: 37081485
Viruses. 2022-09-13; 14.9:
Co-Deletion of A238L and EP402R Genes from a Genotype IX African Swine Fever Virus Results in Partial Attenuation and Protection in Swine
Abkallo HM, Hemmink JD, Oduor B, Khazalwa EM, Svitek N, Assad-Garcia N, Khayumbi J, Fuchs W, Vashee S, Steinaa L
PMID: 36146830
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2022-09-13; 119.37: e2204717119.
SARS-CoV-2 variant spike and accessory gene mutations alter pathogenesis
McGrath ME, Xue Y, Dillen C, Oldfield L, Assad-Garcia N, Zaveri J, Singh N, Baracco L, Taylor LJ, Vashee S, Frieman MB
PMID: 36040867
Cell. 2022-07-21; 185.15: 2708-2724.
Synthetic chromosomes, genomes, viruses, and cells
Venter JC, Glass JI, Hutchison CA, Vashee S
PMID: 35868275
ACS synthetic biology. 2022-05-20; 11.5: 1919-1930.
Genome Engineering of the Fast-Growing Mycoplasma feriruminatoris toward a Live Vaccine Chassis
Talenton V, Baby V, Gourgues G, Mouden C, Claverol S, Vashee S, Blanchard A, Labroussaa F, Jores J, Arfi Y, Sirand-Pugnet P, Lartigue C
PMID: 35511588
Science translational medicine. 2022-03-02; 14.634: eabn7842.
Antibodies elicited by SARS-CoV-2 infection or mRNA vaccines have reduced neutralizing activity against Beta and Omicron pseudoviruses
Sievers BL, Chakraborty S, Xue Y, Gelbart T, Gonzalez JC, Cassidy AG, Golan Y, Prahl M, Gaw SL, Arunachalam PS, Blish CA, Boyd SD, Davis MM, Jagannathan P, Nadeau KC, Pulendran B, Singh U, Scheuermann RH, Frieman MB, Vashee S, Wang TT, Tan GS
PMID: 35025672
Applied and environmental microbiology. 2022-02-08; 88.3: e0148621.
Cross-Genus "Boot-Up" of Synthetic Bacteriophage in Staphylococcus aureus by Using a New and Efficient DNA Transformation Method
Assad-Garcia N, D'Souza R, Buzzeo R, Tripathi A, Oldfield LM, Vashee S, Fouts DE
PMID: 34818102
Frontiers in genetics. 2021-08-30; 12.733674.
Rapid CRISPR/Cas9 Editing of Genotype IX African Swine Fever Virus Circulating in Eastern and Central Africa
Abkallo HM, Svitek N, Oduor B, Awino E, Henson SP, Oyola SO, Mwalimu S, Assad-Garcia N, Fuchs W, Vashee S, Steinaa L
PMID: 34527025
Current opinion in systems biology. 2020-12-01; 24.1-8.
Budding yeast as a factory to engineer partial and complete microbial genomes
Vashee S, Arfi Y, Lartigue C
PMID: 33015421
NPJ vaccines. 2020-07-24; 5.1: 66.
Contagious Bovine and Caprine Pleuropneumonia: a research community's recommendations for the development of better vaccines
Jores J, Baldwin C, Blanchard A, Browning GF, Colston A, Gerdts V, Goovaerts D, Heller M, Juleff N, Labroussaa F, Liljander A, Muuka G, Nene V, Nir-Paz R, Sacchini F, Summerfield A, Thiaucourt F, Unger H, Vashee S, Wang X, Salt J
PMID: 32728480
NPJ vaccines. 2020-07-24; 5.1: 66.
Contagious Bovine and Caprine Pleuropneumonia: a research community's recommendations for the development of better vaccines
Jores J, Baldwin C, Blanchard A, Browning GF, Colston A, Gerdts V, Goovaerts D, Heller M, Juleff N, Labroussaa F, Liljander A, Muuka G, Nene V, Nir-Paz R, Sacchini F, Summerfield A, Thiaucourt F, Unger H, Vashee S, Wang X, Salt J
PMID: 33580051
Frontiers in microbiology. 2019-06-19; 10.1344.
Evidence for the Cytoplasmic Localization of the L-α-Glycerophosphate Oxidase in Members of the "Mycoplasma mycoides Cluster"
Schumacher M, Nicholson P, Stoffel MH, Chandran S, D'Mello A, Ma L, Vashee S, Jores J, Labroussaa F
PMID: 31275271
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2017-10-17; 114.42: E8885-E8894.
Genome-wide engineering of an infectious clone of herpes simplex virus type 1 using synthetic genomics assembly methods
Oldfield LM, Grzesik P, Voorhies AA, Alperovich N, MacMath D, Najera CD, Chandra DS, Prasad S, Noskov VN, Montague MG, Friedman RM, Desai PJ, Vashee S
PMID: 28928148
mSphere. 2017-09-01; 2.5:
Cloning, Assembly, and Modification of the Primary Human Cytomegalovirus Isolate Toledo by Yeast-Based Transformation-Associated Recombination
Vashee S, Stockwell TB, Alperovich N, Denisova EA, Gibson DG, Cady KC, Miller K, Kannan K, Malouli D, Crawford LB, Voorhies AA, Bruening E, Caposio P, Früh K
PMID: 28989973
Nucleic acids research. 2017-04-20; 45.7: e50.
Efficient size-independent chromosome delivery from yeast to cultured cell lines
Brown DM, Chan YA, Desai PJ, Grzesik P, Oldfield LM, Vashee S, Way JC, Silver PA, Glass JI
PMID: 27980064
Cancer prevention research (Philadelphia, Pa.). 2017-04-01; 10.4: 226-234.
The Human Microbiome and Cancer
Rajagopala SV, Vashee S, Oldfield LM, Suzuki Y, Venter JC, Telenti A, Nelson KE
PMID: 28096237
Nucleic acids research. 2016-09-30; 44.17: 8501-11.
Impact of donor-recipient phylogenetic distance on bacterial genome transplantation
Labroussaa F, Lebaudy A, Baby V, Gourgues G, Matteau D, Vashee S, Sirand-Pugnet P, Rodrigue S, Lartigue C
PMID: 27488189
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2016-05-10; 113.19: 5406-11.
MIB-MIP is a mycoplasma system that captures and cleaves immunoglobulin G
Arfi Y, Minder L, Di Primo C, Le Roy A, Ebel C, Coquet L, Claverol S, Vashee S, Jores J, Blanchard A, Sirand-Pugnet P
PMID: 27114507
ACS synthetic biology. 2016-01-15; 5.1: 104-9.
In-Yeast Engineering of a Bacterial Genome Using CRISPR/Cas9
Tsarmpopoulos I, Gourgues G, Blanchard A, Vashee S, Jores J, Lartigue C, Sirand-Pugnet P
PMID: 26592087
Molecular microbiology. 2016-01-01; 99.1: 55-70.
Galactofuranose in Mycoplasma mycoides is important for membrane integrity and conceals adhesins but does not contribute to serum resistance
Schieck E, Lartigue C, Frey J, Vozza N, Hegermann J, Miller RA, Valguarnera E, Muriuki C, Meens J, Nene V, Naessens J, Weber J, Lowary TL, Vashee S, Feldman MF, Jores J
PMID: 26354009
Standards in genomic sciences. 2015-10-29; 10.89.
High quality draft genomes of the Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides challenge strains Afadé and B237
Fischer A, Santana-Cruz I, Hegerman J, Gourlé H, Schieck E, Lambert M, Nadendla S, Wesonga H, Miller RA, Vashee S, Weber J, Meens J, Frey J, Jores J
PMID: 26516405
Genome research. 2015-03-01; 25.3: 435-44.
Bacterial genome reduction using the progressive clustering of deletions via yeast sexual cycling
Suzuki Y, Assad-Garcia N, Kostylev M, Noskov VN, Wise KS, Karas BJ, Stam J, Montague MG, Hanly TJ, Enriquez NJ, Ramon A, Goldgof GM, Richter RA, Vashee S, Chuang RY, Winzeler EA, Hutchison CA, Gibson DG, Smith HO, Glass JI, Venter JC
PMID: 25654978
BMC genomics. 2014-12-24; 15.1180.
TREC-IN: gene knock-in genetic tool for genomes cloned in yeast
Chandran S, Noskov VN, Segall-Shapiro TH, Ma L, Whiteis C, Lartigue C, Jores J, Vashee S, Chuang RY
PMID: 25539750
Current opinion in biotechnology. 2012-10-01; 23.5: 659-65.
Synthetic genomics: potential and limitations
Montague MG, Lartigue C, Vashee S
PMID: 22342755
Science (New York, N.Y.). 2010-07-02; 329.5987: 52-6.
Creation of a bacterial cell controlled by a chemically synthesized genome
Gibson DG, Glass JI, Lartigue C, Noskov VN, Chuang RY, Algire MA, Benders GA, Montague MG, Ma L, Moodie MM, Merryman C, Vashee S, Krishnakumar R, Assad-Garcia N, Andrews-Pfannkoch C, Denisova EA, Young L, Qi ZQ, Segall-Shapiro TH, Calvey CH, Parmar PP, Hutchison CA, Smith HO, Venter JC
PMID: 20488990
Nucleic acids research. 2010-05-01; 38.8: 2558-69.
Cloning whole bacterial genomes in yeast
Benders GA, Noskov VN, Denisova EA, Lartigue C, Gibson DG, Assad-Garcia N, Chuang RY, Carrera W, Moodie M, Algire MA, Phan Q, Alperovich N, Vashee S, Merryman C, Venter JC, Smith HO, Glass JI, Hutchison CA
PMID: 20211840
Journal of molecular evolution. 2009-10-01; 69.4: 360-71.
The evolution of RecD outside of the RecBCD complex
Montague M, Barnes C, Smith HO, Chuang RY, Vashee S
PMID: 19841849
Science (New York, N.Y.). 2009-09-25; 325.5948: 1693-6.
Creating bacterial strains from genomes that have been cloned and engineered in yeast
Lartigue C, Vashee S, Algire MA, Chuang RY, Benders GA, Ma L, Noskov VN, Denisova EA, Gibson DG, Assad-Garcia N, Alperovich N, Thomas DW, Merryman C, Hutchison CA, Smith HO, Venter JC, Glass JI
PMID: 19696314

Research Priorities

Development of therapeutics for viral diseases using synthetic genomics
  • Genome-wide engineering of human herpesviruses (herpes simplex virus 1, human cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr virus) to develop vaccines
  • Improving genetic tools for African swine fever virus to facilitate development of an effective vaccine
Development of vaccines for bacterial diseases using synthetic genomics
  • Generating safe vaccines for contagious bovine pleuropneumonia and contagious caprine pleuropneumonia based on live rationally attenuated strains
  • Exploring the use of M. mycoides subspecies capri as vector for animal bacterial and viral diseases

Designer Phage

Synthetic Engineering of Bacteriophage for Treatment of Wound Infections

Video

Viral Synthetic Genomics to Engineer Large dsDNA Viruses

Rapid engineering of large dsDNA viruses using synthetic genomics assembly tools.

Assembly of HSV-1

Use of cutting-edge synthetic genomics technology to revolutionize the study of herpesvirus biology.

28-Apr-2024
Chemical & Engineering News

Can CRISPR help stop African Swine Fever?

Gene editing could create a successful vaccine to protect against the viral disease that has killed close to 2 million pigs globally since 2021.

30-Jan-2024
Press Release

51ݶ contracted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to rapidly construct synthetic influenza genes

Genes will be used to help develop seasonal and pandemic vaccines, improving response time and vaccine efficacy

23-Feb-2023
Collaborator Release

BullFrog AI Partners with 51ݶ to Develop Colorectal Cancer Therapeutic

Collaboration seeks to develop an oncolytic virus that incorporates a novel, precision-targeted approach to improve safety and efficacy

21-Jul-2022
Press Release

Synthetic genomics advances and promise

Advances in DNA synthesis will enable extraordinary new opportunities in medicine, industry, agriculture, and research

13-Jan-2022
Press Release

Omicron and Beta variants evade antibodies elicited by vaccines and previous infections, but boosters help

Pregnancy also contributes to a reduced COVID-19 antibody response

20-Aug-2009
Press Release

51ݶ Researchers Clone and Engineer Bacterial Genomes in Yeast and Transplant Genomes Back into Bacterial Cells

New methods allow for the rapid engineering of bacterial chromosomes and the creation of extensively modified bacterial species; should also play key role in boot up of synthetic cell