Samina Akbar, Ph.D.
Samina Akbar, Ph.D. joined the department of biomedical sciences at Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine as an assistant professor of microbiology in 2013. Dr. Akbar is an experienced microbiologist with six years of experience as an osteopathic educator focusing on human infections caused by bacteria and viruses.
Dr. Akbar earned her bachelor of science and master of science degrees from the department of microbiology at University of Karachi, Pakistan. She received her Ph.D. in microbiology and molecular biology from University of California Davis. Her dissertation was on genetic analysis of the signal transduction network that activates the transcription factor B of Bacillus subtilis in response to adverse environmental conditions.
Prior to joining MU-COM, Dr. Akbar was a faculty member in the department of microbiology and immunology at Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine. After finishing her Ph.D., Dr. Akbar worked at Harvard Medical School for three years as a postdoctoral fellow in the department of microbiology and molecular genetics working on virulence gene regulation in Salmonella typhimurium. She then moved to University of British Columbia, Center for Disease Control where she was a research associate examining the presence of a Type III secretion system in Chlamydia trachomatis.
Dr. Akbar has wide-ranging experience in university, community, and professional service. Notably, she has been a member of as well as chaired some critical university and college committees including bylaws, curriculum, and student learning assessment committees. For the past five years, Dr. Akbar has participated in the Youth Education in Science and Medicine (YES-MED) program that brings 10 high school students from Des Moines and surrounding communities to experience specific science disciplines like microbiology, biochemistry, physiology, and anatomy and a number of health-related topics for a week. Dr. Akbar has been an NBOME and an NBPME Item Writer and reviewer, Iowa Science Foundation chairperson as well as Grant Reviewer, and American Society for Microbiology Member. She has served as the faculty advisor to the Student National Medical Alliance as well as the DMU Muslim Osteopathic Student Association at DMU for the past four years.
Dr. Akbar’s research interests include genetic and molecular analysis of gene regulation in both Gram positive and Gram negative pathogenic bacteria; molecular analysis of host-pathogen interactions; understanding the molecular evolution of multidrug resistance plasmids of Salmonella spp. in order to better understand the basis of genetic differences between these plasmids and the mechanism/s of their spread in nature; regulation of type III secretion and their function in the virulence of pathogenic bacteria genes expression. Currently, the two primary areas of research in her lab are 1) Molecular analysis of the large multidrug resistant CMY2 plasmids present in Salmonella species isolated from both humans and animal gut, and 2) Determining the role of integrons and genomic islands in the spread of antibiotic resistance in Salmonella species.
Dr. Akbar has earned numerous grants, fellowships, and awards during her graduate and professional career. Some of these include: Iowa Osteopathic Education and Research Grants; Jastro-Shields Graduate Research Award; Government of Pakistan Science and Technology Scholarship (for the completion of her Ph.D. at UC Davis); University Grants Commission Scholarship.