Umama Qasim

Doctoral candidate at ABAC Therapeutics S.A.

About me

I graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from the University of Peshawar, Pakistan. Later on, I did a Master of Philosophy in Microbiology from the same institute. My research interests revolved around antimicrobial resistance and the genetic elements responsible behind it, particularly in gram-negative bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli, isolated from clinical and food samples.

After completing my postgraduate degree, I got a job in the industrial sector. I worked as a microbiologist and quality control analyst in the pharmaceutical industry. Later on, I got a job as a Research Assistant at the Precision Medicine Lab, one of the finest laboratories in Pakistan comprised of a stellar team working in different fields, from biologists to data scientists and clinicians. Afterwards, I worked as a Research Analyst at Peshawar Institute of Cardiology-MTI, a state-of-the-art hospital in Peshawar City that provides the latest treatment facilities for cardiovascular diseases. I conducted clinical research associated with cardiovascular diseases.

I am thrilled and excited to be a part of the prestigious BREAKthrough consortium as a MSCA PhD fellow. I look forward to a lot of learning since it aims to target multi-drug-resistant bacteria by utilising an innovative approach of sensitising the cell membrane to antibiotics.

About my project
DC09: Cell permeability assessment and integration of innovative small molecules for antibacterial R&D

In this project, we will develop and validate in vitro tests and computer tools as well as improve algorithms to determine the antimicrobial activity and toxicity of novel antimicrobial molecules. To determine and assess the cell permeability of innovative small molecule compounds that demonstrate antimicrobial activity after the screening process, we will synthesise key small compounds to validate assays, carry out screening tests to assess the activity of novel compounds using a panel of up to 20 microorganisms, carry out several microbiology tests, conduct cytotoxicity studies with several cell lines from different tissues, and develop new PK/PD in vitro tests (Hollow fibre). The goal is to prioritise and select high-quality Hits and Leads molecules that meet multiple developability criteria (weighted profile) and therefore increase the chances of identifying robust candidates, reducing technical risk, and maximising success in reaching the market.