September 8, 2020

Duah Alkam Student Highlight

Duah is a GPIBS Ph.D. student in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology track. She is starting her 5th year in the laboratories of Dr. Mark Smeltzer and Dr. David Ussery.

She has a B.S. in Pharmaceutical Sciences and a M.S. in Pharmacology from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Research Interest Statement

Osteomyelitis, or bone infection, is a devastating disease with limited treatment options. My dissertation explores the molecular pathways involved in the pathogenicity of the major cause of osteomyelitis, the bacterial agent Staphylococcus aureus. We draw on genome sequencing technologies coupled with comprehensive bioinformatic analyses to define the genetic landscape of the bacterium during in vivo osteomyelitis. These studies revealed strategies the bacterium employs to survive within the bone while fending off attacks by the host. Targeting these pathways may aid in the development of therapeutics to combat S. aureus infections.

Something Notable about Time as a Graduate Student

There is a pervasive positivity across the UAMS graduate school that I’ve been fortunate to experience through interactions┬áthat spanned three departments. My co-mentors exemplified this spirit through their collaboration and commitment to guiding me on topics ranging from the intricate details of Staphylococcus aureus biology to the value of comparative genomics. Equally crucial were the bioinformaticians on our team who taught me how to critically evaluate big data. These interactions have been the highlight of the past four years.

Career Goals

I plan to remain in the genomics/bioinformatics field.

Experiment or Technique You Would Most Like to Do

Anything involving genomic engineering, particularly with CRISPR/Cas9, is always fun.

Fun fact

My husband, Ziad, and I are on a quest to visit every major National Park in the United States – our favorite so far is the Grand Canyon.


Alkam D, Jenjaroenpun P, Wongsurawat T, Udaondo Z, Patumcharoenpol P, Robeson M, et al. Genomic characterization of mumps viruses from a large-scale mumps outbreak in Arkansas, 2016. Infect Genet Evol. 2019;75:103965

Alkam D, Wongsurawat T, Jenjaroenpun P, Connor S, Hobbs C, Wassenaar TM, et al. Three Complete Genome Sequences of Genotype G Mumps Virus from the 2016 Outbreak in Arkansas, USA. Genome Announc. 2017;5(32)