Gray Lab

Welcome to the Gray laboratory

We are part of the Department of Microbiology in the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. The mission of our lab is twofold: 1) to make novel discoveries in bacterial physiology, regulation, and stress response, and 2) to train rigorous, creative, and collaborative microbiologists.

We use a combination of genetic, genomic, and biochemical techniques to study how bacteria sense and respond to their environments. We are particularly interested in the molecular biology of the symbiotic and probiotic bacteria that make up the healthy microbiome, and are working to identify new regulators, proteins, and pathways that may influence the interactions between bacteria and their human or animal hosts. Our current research has three primary tracks:

  1. Inorganic polyphosphate (polyP) is an evolutionarily ancient, poorly understood biopolymer required for virulence, motility, and stress response in many bacteria. We are interested in how the synthesis of polyP is regulated in response to environmental signals.
  2. The RclABCR proteins of E. coli and other pro-inflammatory enterobacteria are involved in the response of these bacteria to hypothiocyanite, an antimicrobial oxidant which they encounter during interactions with the innate immune system. We are exploring the mechanism by which these proteins function.
  3. In collaboration with Dr. Casey Weaver (UAB Department of Pathology), we are working to understand the role of the microbiome and probiotic bacteria in preventing neonatal sepsis.

For more information and for details on specific projects ongoing in the lab, see our Research page.

Dr. Gray's free course packet on Bacterial Genetics and Molecular Biology is available here.

The Gray lab is dedicated to diversity and inclusion, and we promote and recognize principles of fairness and equity in relation to, and across, intersections of race, age, color, disability, faith, religion, ancestry, national origin, citizenship, sex, sexual orientation, social class, economic class, ethnicity, gender identity, gender expression, and all other identities represented among our diverse communities.

Lab News

July 11, 2024

Check out this nice write-up about recent Gray lab graduate Cortez Bowlin.


June 27, 2024

Check out this new paper from our collaborators in the Randall lab showing the impact of bacterial metabolism in the microbiome on cancer biology. We helped!

June 11, 2024

Check out our new paper on polyphosphate kinase, explaining why none of the in vitro data from the past 20 years makes any sense and how to fix it, now online ahead of print at the Journal of Molecular Biology:

June 10, 2024

Welcome to new undergraduate research assistant Lilla Fournier, who will be teaming up with Harshita to work with Dr. Chris Hamm on understanding polyphosphate biology in Bacillus species!

May 28, 2024

Congratulations to Avery Lieber for getting a pre-doctoral training fellowship through the UAB dental school DART T90!

May 16, 2024

Lab photo from the 2024 Microbiology Department photoshoot. We weren't all in town, but we're looking pretty sharp. :-)

April 11, 2024

Huge congratulations to Dr. Cortez Bowlin, who has been selected as the 2024-2025 Research!America Dr. Louis Sullivan Science Policy Fellow. We'll miss him, but wish him all the best in his future adventures!

March 11, 2024

Check out our latest preprint on the molecular mechanisms of bacterial hypothiocyanite resistance, available online now!

January 8, 2024

Happy 2024 from the whole Gray lab!

December 18, 2023

Year-end lab cleanup day!

December 7, 2023

The 2024 edition of Dr. Gray's Bacterial Genetics course packet is now available online at the lab GitHub page

November 30, 2023

A cheerful Zoom lab meeting to round out November. :-)

November 8, 2023

Congratulations to Cortez for his successful public defense!

October 31, 2023

Congratulations to Cortez Bowlin for his successful Halloween Ph.D. thesis defense! Stay tuned for the public defense on Nov. 8th. :-)

September 5, 2023

Hitting the big time now!

August 14, 2023

Team HOSCN enjoying the sun and science at last week's Molecular Genetics of Bacteria and Phages meeting in Madison, WI!

July 26, 2023

Bidding farewell to long-time Gray lab technician Abbi Long, as she heads off to start her PhD at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. We'll miss you, Abbi!

July 12, 2023

Welcome to new Gray lab research assistant Harshita Sharma!

July 5, 2023

Welcome to Dr. Chris Hamm, IRACDA-MERIT postdoctoral fellow and newest member of the Gray lab's Team Polyphosphate!

June 30, 2023

Looking sharp at Julia's wedding! :-)

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UAB Department of Microbiology
654 Bevill Biomedical Research Building
1720 2nd Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35294

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