Deborah Hung is a physician-scientist combining chemical and genomic approaches to define host-pathogen interactions and to reveal the critical pressure points of infectious disease. By deploying small organic molecules on a genome-wide scale to both perturb and understand bacterial infection, she hopes to identify new therapeutic prospects for a variety of devastating pathogens, including Vibrio cholerae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Deborah received her Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard University, where she worked in Stuart Schreiber’s laboratory to characterize the chemical and biological properties of discodermolide, a small molecule isolated from marine sponges that stabilizes microtubules. More recently, she pursued her postdoctoral research in the laboratory of John Mekalanos at Harvard Medical School, using a high-throughput chemical screen to identify a small molecule that inhibits two major virulence factors of Vibrio cholerae, a gram-negative bacterium that causes an acute intestinal diarrhea. When given orally, the inhibitor can protect mice from the effects of V. cholerae infection. Although cholera outbreaks are relatively rare in the United States, the disease is epidemic in many non-industrialized countries where water sanitation is poor.
Deborah received her medical degree from Harvard Medical School and completed a residency in internal medicine and fellowships in infectious disease and critical care medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. Currently, she holds positions as an infectious disease physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital and an attending critical care physician in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.