Office: AHC4 220, AHC4 223, AHC4 241
Phone: Business 305-348-0628; Campus 305-348-1829
Department(s): Human and Molecular Genetics, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine
Dr. Mathee is the first founding faculty member and founding chairman of the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. A native of Malaysia, Dr. Mathee is a dedicated and demanding teacher who has received high praises from her students. She received BSc (Genetics) and M Sc (Microbial Genetics) degrees from the University of Malaya and went on to complete her Ph.D. in Molecular Microbiology at the University of Tennessee, Memphis under the tutelage of Martha M. Howe. Her fascination with Pseudomonas
In 2011, she received the Mentor of the year award and was bestowed the highest honor of her career in FIU, the President's Council Worlds Ahead Faculty Award in recognition of outstanding achievement as a student-centered professor who makes an impact and exceeds expectations (Watch on YouTube)
She serves as Editor of
The main focus of my research since Fall 1993 can be summarized as the "Molecular Genetic Studies of Bacterial Pathogenicity Using Pseudomonas
- Molecular mechanism of mucoid conversion. The mucoid appearance is caused by
productionof a capsule-like polysaccharide called alginate. The organism uses a complex circuitry to control the expression of the genes that lead to the production of alginate and that ultimately kill CF patients. Since 1993, I have worked on a number of questions related to alginate gene regulation and the role of alginate in the infectious process.
- Molecular mechanism of resistance to ß-lactam antibiotics. In 1999, I realized that the genetic events underlying the resistance mechanism, especially to ß-lactam antibiotics in P.
aeruginosa, had not been clearly elucidated. This area is the major focus in my lab. I was able to get continuous federal funding for this project. Since my sabbatical in 2006, we collaborate with Steve Lory (Harvard Medical School) on genomics and proteomics analyses.
- Alternative and complementary therapy. In addition, I have been very interested in exploring alternative and complementary therapy for patients suffering from chronic P.
aeruginosainfections. The focus is on P. aeruginosaquorum sensing (QS) that is critical for its ability to establish and maintain infections. Two major aspects of this project are exploring antimicrobial compounds from South Florida medicinal plants and exploring the role of ginseng in modulating the disease outcome. In additionwe are also screening synthetic compounds with potential anti-quorum sensing activities. This is a collaborative research effort with John Makemson (Department of Biological Sciences), Steve Wnuk and Martin Quirke (Dept of Chemistry & Biochemistry) and Fred Ausubel (Harvard Medical School)
- CF sputum ecology. Only 5% of the microbes in nature are culturable, we hypothesize that the routine culturable methods currently being used for the identification of bacterial pathogens from CF sputa yield limited microbiological information, and fail to identify numerous pathogenic bacterial species that are potentially present in the airways of CF patients. We have been using molecular methods for the direct detection of specific microorganisms in the heterogeneous CF sputum samples. This is a collaborative research with
Universityof Miami Cystic Fibrosis Center (Dr. Michael Light) and Miami Children's Hospital (Dr. Maria Franco and Dr. Simpser).