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Home » Post Doctoral Fellows » Karen Beenken, Ph.D.
Karen Beenken, Ph.D.

Ph.D.:  UAMS, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Lab:  Mark Smeltzer, Ph.D.
Phone:  501-686-8217

The overall goal of the Smeltzer laboratory is to address issues in Staphylococcus aureus pathogenesis in a therapeutically relevant context. I joined the laboratory of Mark Smeltzer, PhD, as a doctoral student in 1998. The focus of my doctoral dissertation was on identifying genes that are differentially regulated in S. aureus biofilms and defining the impact of the staphylococcal accessory gene regulator (sarA) in biofilm formation. I completed my doctoral degree in 2003. I then completed postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Mark Hart at the National Center for Toxicological Research before accepting a position as the Biological Safety Officer at UAMS. After finding that I missed the environment of a clinically relevant research laboratory, I returned to Dr. Smeltzer’s lab as the Senior Research Associate. In this capacity I have continued to explore the role of sarA in biofilm formation and its contribution to defining the therapeutic outcome in the context of biofilm-associated infection. Our work is providing significant and clinically relevant results.

Publications on Pubmed

Beenken K.E., Spencer H., Griffin L.M., Smeltzer M.S. Impact of extracellular nuclease production on the biofilm phenotype of Staphylococcus aureus under in vitro and in vivo conditions.  Infection and Immunity.  In Press.

Quave C.L., Estévez-Carmona M., Compadre C.M., Hobby G., Hendrickson H., Beenken K., Smeltzer M.S.  Ellagic acid derivatives from Rubus Ulmifolius inhibit Staphylococcus aureus biofilm formation and improve response to antibiotics. PLoS One.  In Press.

Zielinska A.K., Beenken K.E., Joo H.S., Mrak L.N., Griffin L.M., Luong T.T., Lee C.Y., Otto M., Shaw L.N., Smeltzer M.S. Defining the strain-dependent impact of the staphylococcal accessory regulator (sarA) on the alpha-toxin phenotype of Staphylococcus aureus. J Bacteriol. 2011 Jun;193(12):2948-58. PMCID: PMC3133183.

Olson P.D., Kuechenmeister L.J., Anderson K.L., Daily S., Beenken K.E., Roux C.M., Reniere M.L., Lewis T.L., Weiss W.J., Pulse M., Nguyen P., Simecka J.W., Morrison J.M., Sayood K., Asojo O.A., Smeltzer M.S., Skaar E.P., Dunman P.M. Small molecule inhibitors of Staphylococcus aureus RnpA alter cellular mRNA turnover, exhibit antimicrobial activity, and attenuate pathogenesis. PLoS Pathog. 2011 Feb 10;7(2):e1001287. PMCID: PMC3037362.