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School of Medicine Greenville

Faculty Profile

Faculty and Staff

Steven E Fiester, Ph.D.

Title: Associate Professor
Biomedical Sciences
School of Medicine Greenville
Phone: 864-455-8739
Office: 701 Grove Road
Greenville SC 29605


Background: Dr. Fiester graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in zoology from Kent State University in 2005. He then pursued a Ph.D. in physiology from Kent State University which was awarded to him in 2011. While working towards his Ph.D., Dr. Fiester served as the BSL-3 Facility Coordinator where he directed the operations of the BSL-3 Training Laboratory at Kent State University and was instrumental in its accreditation with the National Institute of Health’s National Biosafety and Biocontainment Program. Following graduate school, Dr. Fiester completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Miami University, where his research primarily focused on the study of the nosocomial pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii. With over a decade of teaching experience, Dr. Fiester has instructed undergraduate, graduate, adult, under-represented and high school students and has published many of these interactions with his students. Dr. Fiester's background is primarily in infectious disease microbiology; however, he also has expertise in applied microbiology, eukaryotic cell physiology, epidemiology and immunology. He has served as a reviewer for peer-reviewed journals, as a specialist for the Portage County (Ohio) Medical Reserve Corp and as a Microbial Biology Panelist for the National Science Foundation.
Teaching Interest(s): An important component of Dr. Fiester's research has always been education. Specifically, he has investigated the use of active learning strategies, integrative peer-to-peer teaching and hands-on exercises in the classroom as well as the use of varying assessment formats to improve exam performance. Collectively, he is interested in strategies that improve student performance on assessment vehicles while resulting in the retention of knowledge that will be critical in their respective specialties.
Research Interest(s): Infectious Disease Research: Dr. Fiester's research interests primarily focus on the elucidation of factors contributing to the virulence of multidrug-resistant ESKAPE (Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterobacter species) pathogens with special attention given to Acinetobacter baumannii. A. baumannii is a Gram-negative opportunistic pathogen often associated with nosocomial infections in immunocompromised patients; however, cases in immune-competent individuals have also been reported. A. baumannii has been shown to cause pneumonia, urinary tract infections, bacteremia, meningitis, necrotizing fasciitis, wound infections and endocarditis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have categorized Acinetobacter as a serious threat requiring more monitoring and prevention activities due to the occurrence of multidrug-resistant isolates. According to the CDC, Acinetobacter causes 12,000 infections per year with 7,300 of those infections caused by multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter and 500 of those cases resulting in mortality in the United States alone. Unfortunately, the majority of research pertaining to A. baumannii has focused on antibiotic resistance properties while failing to explain the basic pathobiology or underlying virulence mechanisms of this bacterium. This sparsity of data has made drug discovery somewhat difficult due to the lack of candidate therapeutic targets. Dr. Fiester's research therefore aims to better explain the pathobiology of A. baumannii thus uncovering targets for therapeutics. Dr. Fiester is particularly interested in the mechanisms by which A. baumannii is cytotoxic to eukaryotic cells, acquires iron under chelated conditions such as that found in the human host, translocates virulence-associated proteins to the outer membrane, secretes virulence factors and responds to environmental stressors. Dr. Fiester's research has even contradicted the traditional characterization of A. baumannii as non-hemolytic. In fact, the hemolytic phenotype of A. baumannii is paramount to A. baumannii virulence.

Previous Research Expertise: Dr. Fiester's doctoral work was interdisciplinary in nature and bridged the fields of applied microbiology and materials science. His dissertation describes the liquid crystal properties of biopolymers, such as bacterial flagella and viral coat proteins. The self-assembling and optical properties of these biopolymers in vitro were used to speculate on the functioning of the biopolymers in vivo. After characterization, the liquid crystal biopolymers were used in a novel device for the rapid detection of Salmonella cells. Overall, his doctoral research characterized several biopolymers with different liquid crystal arrangements, characterized their potential as sensors and offered alternatives to traditional synthetic liquid crystals.
Honors & Awards: ASM Young Ambassador for South Carolina
Peggy Cotter Travel Award for Early Career Branch Members

Professional Affiliations: South Carolina Branch of the American Society for Microbiology
American Society for Microbiology
Phi Beta Kappa
Golden Key International Honour Society
SouthEastern Association for Clinical Microbiology
Ohio Branch of the American Society for Microbiology
Microscopy Society of Northeastern Ohio
American Association for the Advancement of Science

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