Dr. Christopher Pierce

Assistant Professor

Dr. Christopher Pierce joined the Department of Biology at the University of the Incarnate Word as an Assistant Professor in Fall 2015. Dr. Pierce completed his Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology at The University of Texas at San Antonio in 2012. 

Dr. Pierce studies fungal infections with emphasis on Candida albicans, an opportunistic pathogen capable of causing disease in immunocompromised patients. His research interests are focused on understanding the role of biofilm formation and filamentation during C. albicans infections and the identification of novel antifungal therapies.

Dr. Pierce enjoys teaching, working with students in the research lab, volunteering at state and local science fairs, traveling and visiting his family in Missouri. 

Contact Information

  • Office Location: AT&T Science Center 308
  • Phone: (210) 283-6950
  • Email: cpierce@uiwtx.edu
  • Education

    • Ph.D. Cell and Molecular Biology, The University of Texas at San Antonio, 2012
    • M.S. Biology, The University of Texas at San Antonio, 2007
    • B.S. Biology, Missouri Southern State University, 2005
  • Work Experience

    • Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of the Incarnate Word, 2015 – Present
    • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Biology and the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases (STCEID), The University of Texas at San Antonio, 2013 – 2015
  • Courses Taught

    • BIOL 1402 – General Biology I for Majors
    • BIOL 2474 – Introductory Microbiology and Laboratory
    • BIOL 3202 – Research Methods in Cell and Molecular Genetics
    • BIOL 3311 – Cell Biology
    • BIOL 4399 – Special Topics: Medical Mycology
  • Research Interest

    Dr. Pierce studies the fungus, Candida albicans, which is capable of causing disease, particularly in immunocompromised patients. Candida infections are the fourth most common nosocomial, or hospital-acquired, infection.  The seriousness of these infections is heightened with unacceptably high mortality and the limited number of antifungal drugs. Dr. Pierce’s research has been focused on understanding the role of biofilm formation and filamentation in C. albicans infections and the development of novel agents targeting these virulence factors associated with infection.

    Dr. Pierce’s current research interests lie in identifying and subsequently characterizing the activity of anti-biofilm and anti-filamentation compounds, with emphasis on minimizing the potential to induce resistance. The main components of his research are: (i) Identify anti-virulence compounds from commercially available small molecule libraries. These libraries represent a promising arsenal of potential antifungal candidates that can be screened for inhibition of biofilm formation and filamentation. (ii) Characterize the mechanism(-s) of action of the identified inhibitors of biofilm formation and filamentation. These studies include the effects of compounds on global mechanisms of biofilm formation (adhesion, proliferation, and maturation), drug combination studies, development of resistance assays, cytotoxicity assays, and identification of the molecular targets.

    The environment of Dr. Pierce’s laboratory at UIW is focused on training and developing undergraduate students as independent researchers.  Dr. Pierce has mentored a number of students in the lab. Students in the lab have presented their work at UIW Research Week, as well as, regional and state conferences. Mentoring students, whether in the classroom, research lab or at scientific conferences, is one of Dr. Pierce’s passions.

  • Selected Presentations and Publications

    Selected Primary Research Articles

      • Romo, J.A., C.G. Pierce, M. Esqueda, C.Y. Hung, S.P. Saville, and J.L. Lopez-Ribot (2018) In vitro characterization of biaryl amide anti-virulence compound targeting Candida albicans filamentation and biofilm formation. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2018.00227
      • Garner, R.N., C.G. Pierce, C.R. Reed, and W.W. Brennessel. (2017) Photoinitiated treatment of Mycobacterium using Ru (II) isoniazid complexes. Inorg Chim Acta 461: 261-6.
      • Romo, J.A.*, C.G. Pierce*, A.K. Chaturvedi, A.L. Lazzell, S.F. McHardy, S.P. Saville, and J.L. Lopez-Ribot (2017) Development of anti-virulence approaches for candidiasis via a novel series of small-molecule inhibitors of Candida albicans filamentation. mBio 8:e01991-17. https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.01991-17. *J.A.R. and C.G.P. contributed equally to the work.
      • Pierce, C.G., A.K. Chaturvedi, A.L. Lazzell, A.T. Powell, S.P. Saville, S.F. McHardy, and J.L. Lopez-Ribot. (2015) A novel small molecule inhibitor of Candida albicans biofilm formation, filamentation and virulence with low potential for the development of resistance. NPJ Biofilms Microbiomes 1: 15012. Doi 10.1038/npjbiofilms.2015.12.
      • Pierce, C.G., S.P. Saville, and J.L. Lopez-Ribot. (2014) High content phenotypic screenings to identify inhibitors of Candida albicans biofilm formation and filamentation. Pathogens and Disease 70(3): 423-31.
      • Pierce, C.G., D.P. Thomas, and J.L. Lopez-Ribot (2009) Effect of tunicamycin on Candida albicans biofilm formation and maintenance. J Antimicrob Chemother 63(3): 473-9.
      • Pierce, C.G., P. Uppuluri, A.R. Tristan, F.L. Wormley, E. Mowat, G. Ramage, and J.L. Lopez-Ribot. (2008) A simple and reproducible 96-well plate-based method for the formation of fungal biofilms and its application to antifungal susceptibility testing. Nature Protocols 3: 1494-1500.

    Selected Review Articles

      • Pierce, C.G., T. Vila, J.A. Romo, D. Montelongo-Jauregui, G. Wall, A. Ramasubramanian, and J.L. Lopez-Ribot (2017) The Candida albicans biofilm matrix: Composition, structure and function. Journal of Fungi 3(14): doi:10.3390/jof3010014
      • Pierce, C.G., A. Srinivasan, A.K. Ramasubramanian, and J.L. Lopez-Ribot. (2015) From biology to drug development: New approaches to combat the threat of fungal biofilms. Microbiol Spectrum 3(3):MB-0007-2014. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.MB-0007-2014.
      • Pierce, C.G., A. Srinivasan, A., P. Uppuluri, A.K. Ramasubramanian, and J.L. Lopez-Ribot. (2013) Antifungal therapy with an emphasis on biofilms. Current Opinion Pharmacology 13(5): 726-30.

    Selected Published Abstracts and Presentations

    • Winski, C.J., H. Alvarez, and C.G. Pierce (2019) Overcoming Candida albicans drug resistant biofilms with Hsp90 Inhibitors. Texas Undergraduate Research Days, Texas State Capitol, Austin, Texas.
    • Nieto, B.L. and C.G. Pierce (2018) Antibiofilm of Chloroxine and Oligomycin A against Candida albicans. Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Undergraduates, Indianapolis, Indiana.
    • Armstrong-VanLaar, M.R. and C.G. Pierce (2018) Screening of NIH Clinical Collection Library for Inhibitors of Candida albicans Biofilms. Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Undergraduates, Indianapolis, Indiana.
    • Alvarez, H., C.J. Winski, and C.G. Pierce (2018) Overcoming Candida albicans drug resistant biofilms with Hsp90 Inhibitors. Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Undergraduates, Indianapolis, Indiana.
    • Winski, C.J., C.J. Montez, D.A. Santos, C.G. Pierce, and R.N. Garner (2018) Photoinduced Delivery of Para-aminosalicylic Acid (PAS) using Ru(II) Complexes for the Treatment of Mycobacterium Infections. Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Undergraduates, Indianapolis, Indiana.
    • Garcia, I., A.I. Knecht, C.R. Thompson, and C.G. Pierce (2018) Anti-Biofilm Activity of Chloroxine against Candida albicans. Texas Branch American Society of Microbiology Meeting, New Braunfels, Texas.
    • Valadez, C., D. Zarate, A. Vallor, and C.G. Pierce (2018) Identification and Characterization of Two Soil Bacteria Isolates Displaying Antimicrobial Activity. Texas Branch American Society of Microbiology Meeting, New Braunfels, Texas.
    • Knecht, A.I, and C.G. Pierce (2017) Identification and Characterization of Novel Compound Inhibitors of Candida albicans Biofilm Formation. Texas Academy of Science, Belton, Texas.
    • Thompson, C.R., and C.G. Pierce (2017) Screening of NIH Clinical Collection Library for Compounds with Candida albicans Anti-Biofilm Activity. Texas Academy of Science, Belton, Texas.
    • Knecht, A.I, R.L. Estolano, and C.G. Pierce (2017) Identification and Characterization of Novel Compound Inhibitors of Candida albicans Biofilm Formation. University of the Incarnate Word Research Week, San Antonio, Texas.
    Click Here for a Complete List of Publications