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Issar Smith, Ph.D.

Research Summary   |   C.V.

Professor Emeritus
Public Health Research Institute Center
New Jersey Medical School - Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
225 Warren Street
Newark, New Jersey 07103

Phone: (917) 846-8192
e-mail: smithis@njms.rutgers.edu, issar.smith@gmail.com

Research Summary

Research Summary 1967-2015

I am Professor Emeritus at the Public Health Research Institute (PHRI), having retired as of July 1, 2015 and having been associated with the PHRI center since 1967. In 2009, I became an Associate Director of the PHRI center with responsibility for developing new programs, organizing symposia, recruitment and mentoring of new faculty. My scientific work originally was in the area of microbial antibiotic resistance and then the molecular biology and genetics of the industrially important soil bacterium, Bacillus subtilis. These studies involved the genetics of the transcriptional and translational apparatus and then the control of sporulation in this species. In 1993, the work in my laboratory changed to a study of the virulence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis (TB). Our research concentrated on finding targets in M. tuberculosis that could be used for new anti-tubercular therapies. Among the approaches we utilized was the characterization of several of the 200 transcriptional regulators found in M. tuberculosis for their roles in virulence. We focused on 3 of these proteins: the transcription factor sigma E, the response regulator PhoP and the metalloregulator IdeR and showed that they are essential for virulence, as measured by bacterial growth in macrophages and in animal models. We then studied the genes and processes these regulators control. For, example, we showed that IdeR controls mycobacterial iron metabolism, and we then analyzed the mechanisms by which M. tuberculosis acquires and stores iron. We have shown that these processes are essential for the bacterium to survive both in vitro and during animal infection. Similar studies were carried out with PhoP and sigma E. Currently, collaborators are testing to see whether these 3 regulators can be used as the basis of anti-tubercular therapies. My research work was supported by the National Institute of Health (NIH) since 1965.

Retirement from PHRI does not mean leaving the world of science. I am now a volunteer at the Lower east Side Girls Club (LESGC), located in lower Manhattan where I am developing science programs for the girls in that community.  The LESGC provides a place where girls and young women 8-23 can grow, learn, have fun, and develop confidence in themselves and their ability to make a difference in the world. For more information on this wonderful organization, go to their web site at www.girlsclub.org


City College of New York, New York City, B.A., 1955; Columbia University, New York City, M.A., 1957 (Developmental Biology), Ph.D., 1961 (Developmental Biology).

Research Experience
Sloan Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, Post Doc., 1961-1962; New York University School of Medicine (Dept. of Microbiology), Post Doc., 1962-1963; Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Post Doc, 1963-1968; Research Assistant Professor (Dept. of Pathology) 1964-1967; New York University School of Medicine (Dept. of Microbiology), Research Assistant Professor, 1967 - 1980, Research Professor, 1980 Ð2004, Adjunct Professor of Medicine 2004-present; University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey Medical School, Professor (Dept. of Medicine); PHRI (Dept. Of Microbiology 1967-1993, TB Center 1994-Present), Associate, 1967-1973, Associate Member, 1973-1980, Member, 1980-present.

Professional Experience
N.I.H. Study Sections: Microbial Physiology & Genetics I, Member, 1986-1990, Prokaryotic Molecular biology, Member, 2006-2010; Member of Editorial Boards: Journal of Bacteriology, 1975-1993, Molecular Microbiology 1995-2009; Board of Directors, International Spores Conference, Inc., President, 1984-1988; Organizing & Program Committees, 10th Intl. Spores Conference, Chairman, 1988; Board of Directors, International Spores Conference, Inc., Member, 1980-1992; 1st, 2nd and 3rd N.Y.C. TB Conferences (1996, 1998. 2000), Organizer; Public Health Research Institute Symposia on Infectious Diseases, Newark, NJ, 2002-2009, Organizer; ASM Tuberculosis Meeting, April, 1998, Keystone, CO., session Chair and Speaker, 1998; 31st -36th US/Japan TB/Leprosy Research Conferences, Nagasaki, Cleveland, Osaka, San Francisco, Yokohama, New Orleans, 1996-2001, Invited Speaker; ASM General Meeting, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, session Chair, Speaker 1998, 2000, speaker 2003; Keystone TB meeting 2007, Co-organizer; Chairman, Division U (Mycobacteriology) American Society of Microbiology 2006-2007.

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