Dr. Daniel Nelson

Daniel Nelson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Head, Laboratory of Antimicrobial Discovery,
Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research
University of Maryland

Daniel Nelson received his B.S. in Biology at the University of California, Irvine and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Georgia, Athens, where he studied the contributions of proteases to bacterial pathogenesis under James Travis. In 2001, while a postdoctoral fellow for Vincent Fischetti at The Rockefeller University, he published the first manuscript demonstrating in vivo therapeutic efficacy of a bacteriophage endolysin against a bacterial infection. The next five years at Rockefeller represented a tremendous expansion in the discovery of new endolysins as well as studies aimed at evaluation of host-range, resistance, toxicity, synergy, pharmacokinetics, and development of additional in vivo models for endolysins. In 2007, Dr. Nelson moved to the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research at the University of Maryland where he is now an Associate Professor and Head of the Laboratory of Antimicrobial Discovery. His group has basic research projects on bacterial pathogenesis, biofilms, and phage biology. However, the largest focus of his laboratory involves structure/function studies on several endolysins, including those active against Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Bacillus, and Clostridium species. Based on this accumulated knowledge, his laboratory is now generating endolysins with more desirable attributes, such as higher activity or a more favorable thermostability profile, by employing rational methods (i.e. computational design or chimeragenesis of various endolysin domains) as well as random methods (i.e. directed evolution). It is anticipated these bioengineering approaches will result in development of the next generation endolysins. Most recently, his laboratory is exploiting the binding, rather than lytic, properties of endolysins to develop immunotherapeutics.