John Psonis

B.A., 2013, University of Pennsylvania
Advisor: David Thanassi

Research Interests

I am an MD/PhD student aspiring to a career that combines clinical practice with research in academia. My broad research interests include studying protein-protein interactions and structure-function relationships in the context of microbial pathogenesis. I am currently a first year graduate student in Dr. David Thanassi’s lab. I’m using lipid nanodisc technology to elucidate the mechanism of pilus biogenesis via the chaperone/usher pathway in uropathogenic Escherichia coli as well as identify possible targets and mechanisms of drugs that interfere with pilus assembly. I chose Stony Brook because it fosters a strong sense of community and collaborative spirit. Moreover, the Center for Infectious Diseases provides interdisciplinary research opportunities that are motivated by problems in medicine and thus hold great potential for clinically applicable contributions. My interests outside academics include flamenco guitar, soccer, and ping pong.

Honors and Awards

2019 Irving Abrahams Award for Oustanding Scientific Achievement, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY.

Outstanding Poster Award, Molecular Genetics & Microbiology Annual Retreat, October 2018.

Sigma Xi Travel Award to attend the Bacterial Protein Export Conference in Leuven, Belgium, September 30 - October 3, 2018.

Outstanding Poster Award, Molecular Genetics & Microbiology Annual Retreat, October 2017.

Best Poster Award, Medical Scientist Training Program Retreat, October 2017.

Best Poster Award, Zing Conferences: Protein Secretion in Bacteria, November 2016.

Medical Scientist Training Program Fellowship, 2013.

John C. Makris Research Fellowship, University of Pennsylvania, 2012.

Penn Undergraduate Research Mentoring Program Fellowship, University of Pennsylvania, 2010.

Benjamin Franklin Scholar, University of Pennsylvania, 2009.


Psonis, J.J., Michelen, Y., Bandrjee, K., Fries, B.C., and Sae-Tia, S. (2022). Cryptogenic liver abscess caused by a K1 serotype Klebsiella pneumoniae isolate. Journal of Global Infectious Diseases 14(3): 117-119.

Psonis, J.J., Chahales, P.N., Henderson, N.S., Tong, M., Rigel, N.W., Seeliger, M.A., Hoffman, P.S., and Thanassi, D.G. (2019). The small molecule nitazoxanide selectively disrupts Bam-mediated folding of the outer membrane usher protein. Journal of Biological Chemistry 294: 14241-14256.

Psonis, J.J., and Thanassi, D.G. (2019). Therapeutic approaches targeting the assembly and function of the chaperone-usher pili. EcoSal Plus 8(2). doi: 10.1128/ecosalplus.ESP-0033-2018.

Emerson, D.J., Weiser, B.P., Psonis, J., Liao, Z., Taratula, O., Fiamengo, A., Wang, X., Sugasawa, K., Smith, A.B., Eckenhoff, R.G., and Dmochowski, I.J. (2013). Direct modulation of microtubule stability contributes to anthracene general anesthesia. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 135:5389-5398. PMCID: PMC3671381


Psonis, J., Chahales, P., and Thanassi, D.G. Inhibition of Pilus Assembly by the Small Molecule Nitazoxanide. September 30 - October 3, 2018, Bacterial Protein Export Conference, Leuven, Belgium.

Psonis, J., Chahales, P., and Thanassi, D.G. Inhibition of Pilus Assembly by the Small Molecule Nitazoxanide. Zing Bacterial Protein Secretion Conference, November 9-12, 2016, St. Pete Beach, FL.