New investigator: Vinai Thomas, Ph.D.

February 15, 2019

Image with caption: Vinai Thomas, Ph.D.

Vinai Thomas, Ph.D.

This profile is part of a series to highlight the researchers who will be honored at a ceremony for UNMC's 2018 Scientist Laureate, Distinguished Scientist, Research Leadership and New Investigator Award recipients.

The New Investigator Award

New Investigator Awards go to outstanding UNMC scientists who in the past two years have secured their first funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense or other national sources. New Investigators also had to demonstrate scholarly activity such as publishing their research and/or presenting their findings at national conventions.

  • Name: Vinai Chittezham Thomas, Ph.D.
  • Title: Assistant professor, UNMC Department of Pathology and Microbiology
  • Joined UNMC: 2010 as post-doctoral fellow and 2014 as faculty
  • Hometown: Mallappally, Kerala, India

Research focus:

  • MRSA
  • Metabolism
  • Physiology

The goal of my research is: To understand how bacterial pathogens control metabolic stress and optimize growth. Current investigations in my lab are centered on understanding the physiological significance of bacterial nitric oxide synthase. We employ a variety of molecular, genetic and biochemical approaches to determine why MRSA would risk producing nitric oxide, a potent inhibitor of bacterial respiration.

My research will make a difference because: It will generate mechanistic insights on the control of metabolic pathways that bacterial pathogens rely upon for successful infection of the host. Multiple enzymes within metabolic pathways either normally or adventitiously produce byproducts that can adversely affect their growth and physiology. However, bacterial pathogens have evolved efficient strategies to limit the toxicity of such byproducts. We hope to identify these strategies and gauge their potential for therapeutic interference.

The best advice I've ever been given is:
When challenges arise, face them. Run over them.

Three things you may not know about me are:

  • I was very good at chess when I was young and still enjoy it recreationally.
  • I enjoy trying out new cooking recipes in my spare time. My 4-year old son acts as judge and jury on these.
  • These days science is what most interests me, but I used to have a life once.

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Vineet Kumar
May 10, 2019 at 4:34 AM

Congrats Vinai!! One thing that I know about Vinai during my short time in his lab is his passion for science.He deserves it. Best Wishes for many more such awards in future. Vineet

Sirisha Sirobhushanam
April 12, 2019 at 6:02 PM

Congrats Vinai!!

Kusum K. Kharbanda
February 18, 2019 at 9:05 AM

Congratulations, Vinai!

Laurey Steinke
February 15, 2019 at 9:53 AM

One of the important things about Vinai that does not appear in this short bio is is collegiality. He is always willing to help a colleague, student or staff member with research problems or questions, and is unfailingly generous with his time. Thank you for all you do, Vinai, and congratulations on this well-deserved award!