Dominique Missiakas

Head of laboratory

I am from France and was introduced to bacteria as a fellow at the University of Utah and then Geneva. I have studied bacteria ever since: as an investigator of French CNRS in Marseille, an Assistant Professor at UCLA and now in Chicago. Here is my chance to go uncensored and further litter this white page with a pale attempt at Yeats’ish poetry. So here it goes:
Though I have looked at these bacteria
Through days and nights and ups and downs,
I shall outsmart these little beasts,
And figure out their clever tricks;
And build hypothesis and test models,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The intricacies of bacterial envelopes,
The secrets of their toxin weapons.


Originally from Bombay, India, I am proud to call Columbus Ohio my second home, where I completed my graduate work at The Ohio State University, studying the host response to Staphylococcus aureus biofilm infections. I joined the Missiakas-Schneewind group in September 2018 and am currently working on understanding the dynamics of staphylococcal agglutination mediated by secreted coagulases and cell wall bound ClfA. My ultimate goal is to understand the contribution of agglutination to bacterial persistence in biofilm-based infections and to host immune responses.

Mohini Bhattacharya

I am originally from the city of Lviv in Ukrainian Galicia, and a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I study the ESAT-6 like Secretion System (ESS) of S. aureus, an unusual type 7 secretion system that secretes a very small number of highly potent toxins. My goal is to determine the final destiny and target of these toxins and identify the machinery responsible for their secretion.

Maksym Bobrovskyy

Born and raised in Greece, I joined the Missiakas-Schneewind lab in July 2019. I received my PhD from the University of Crete and studied enzymes that modify the cell wall of B. anthracis. I will continue to study envelope biogenesis processes and everything that makes up the “outside” of this pathogen which I find very exciting.

Anastasia Tomatsidou

I joined the Missiakas-Schneewind Laboratory in July 2016. I am working towards the development of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that can promote opsonophagocytic killing of Staphylococcus aureus. I construct and engineer murine and humanized mAbs against several staphylococcal antigens. My ultimate goal is to understand the mechanism of action of these antibodies and identify the host factors required for antibody-mediated killing of staphylococci.

Xinhai Chen

I come from China and joined the Missiakas-Schneewind laboratory in September 2015. Currently, I am studying the mechanisms whereby Protein A mediates B cell activation. I am also developing non-toxigenic variants of Protein A with the ultimate goal of developing a safe vaccine against Staphylococcus aureus.

Miaomiao Shi

“Decisions are made by those who show up,” applies to proteins. From the cell’s perspective, a protein is useful if it exists at the correct subcellular space at an appropriate time. But, how are these spatial and timing constraints achieved? To partially address this complex question, I am investigating the underlying mechanisms that position staphylococcal proteins at the septum.

Shafiul Azam

I joined the Missiakas-Schneewind Lab February 2020. I am originally from Egypt and earned my PhD from Cairo University. Being always fascinated by the interaction of pathogens with the hosts, I embarked on studying the captivating microbial world during my graduate studies and continue to do so in the Missiakas-Schneewind lab. My research goal is to understand the mechanisms of protein secretion in the general Sec pathway of Staphylococcus aureus which is essential for secretion of various virulence factors, and the targeting of secretory proteins with special N-terminal secretion signal across the septum in the bacterium prior to secretion.

Amany Moawad

Doctoral students

I was born and raised in Northern California, where I received my Bachelor’s Degree at the University of California, Berkeley. I joined the Missiakas-Schneewind laboratory in April 2019 to begin my PhD thesis research. My current research seeks to understand the interactions between the Type III Secretion System of Yersinia pestis with targeted host cells and in particular, the proposed FPR1 receptor on immune cells.

Blake Sanders

Research technician

I am currently studying the interactions between the Yersinia pestis type 3 secretion system and human immune cells.

Derek Elli

Research specialists

I am originally from Mexico but I was raised in California’s central coast. I received my bachelor degree at the University of California Los Angeles. I joined the Missiakas-Schneewind laboratory in August 2019. My current research aims to identify bacterial factors responsible for S. aureus colonization using a mouse model developed in our laboratory.

Paola Nol Bernardino

I come from Greece where I received my Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Crete and then moved to Sweden for my Master’s (MSc) studies. I joined the Missiakas-Schneewind lab in March 2020. My current research is focused on Yersinia pestis pathogenesis through the type III secretion system and its interaction with the FPR1 receptor on the human immune cells.

Dimitrios Manias

As an Illinois native, I migrated to Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville where I completed both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Biology while specializing in genetics. I spent time at Washington University in St. Louis thereafter contributing to microbiome and virome research before joining the Missiakas Lab in December of 2020 to aid in SARS-CoV-2 research.

Haley Gula

I was born in India and was primarily raised in the suburbs of Chicago. I received my Bachelors degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At Missiakas lab I work on preclinical testing on a potential vaccine candidate for  Staphylococcus aureus. I look forward to learning more about engineering antibodies specific to this pathogen’s proteins (in order to create a multiple-antibody-therapeutic treatment).  

Tonu Pius

Both my parents immigrated to America from Serbia and settled down in Chicago where I was raised. I joined the Missiakas Lab in July 2020 as an undergraduate where I investigated the role of peptidoglycan hydrolase EssH in the T7SS of S. aureus. After graduating from UChicago, I started working full-time at HTRL where I now study the enzymes involved in the secondary cell wall polysaccharide of B. anthracis.

Maria Krunic


I am a fourth year undergraduate student from Chicago. I am earning my Bachelor’s degree in Biology, as well as minoring in Health and Society. I joined the Missiakas Lab in May of 2021, where I began my investigation of the relationship between EssH and the type seven secretion system in Staphylococcus aureus.

Mia McNair