Associate Professor


Ph.D., Stanford University

B.A., Harvard University


Lab webpage

Membrane biosynthesis, structure & behavior in bacterial pathogenesis

Lipid membranes define the boundaries of life.  Membranes thus determine how a cell communicates with its environment. The integrity and surface properties of membranes are particularly important in hostile environments such as those experienced by bacterial pathogens inside their hosts.  While eukaryotic membranes have been extensively studied and modeled, comparatively little is understood about the lipid membranes of pathogens such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the causative agent of tuberculosis.

We are applying biochemical, microbiological and biophysical methods to fundamental questions in bacterial membrane biogenesis as they relate to mycobacteria in general and Mtb in particular. We are also developing and applying chemical tools that enable us to study processes in the bacterial cell envelope specifically and accurately.

Mycobacteria generate many structurally complex and unusual lipids. Many are associated with virulence, but few have received molecular-level scrutiny in the membrane context.  In particular the mechanisms by which lipids are transported to the specialized outer layer, or mycomembrane, are not well understood. The JSeeliger group is pursuing several questions that address these issues:

  • What are the molecular mechanisms underlying mycomembrane assembly?
  • How do these pathways contribute to cell growth, division and size determination?
  • How can we subvert lipid biosynthesis and membrane assembly pathways for antimicrobial therapy?

Our team comprises scientists with a broad range of expertise. We welcome new members who have interests and experience ranging from synthetic chemistry to biophysics to microbiology. Contact Jessica for more information about joining the lab.

Jessica received her A. B. in Chemistry from Harvard University in 2000, her MPhil in Chemistry from the University of Cambridge in 2001, and her Ph. D. in Chemistry from Stanford University in 2007.  She moved to the University of California, Berkeley, in 2007 as a postdoctoral fellow with Carolyn Bertozzi and in Fall 2010 started her lab in the Department of Pharmacological Sciences at Stony Brook University.

For the most current list, see this PubMed search.

Current lab members as of July 2018



Lu Bai

Graduate Student, Chemistry/Chemical Biology

Michael Li

Graduate Student (MD/PhD), Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology

Erik Van Vlack

Graduate Student, Chemistry/Chemical Biology

Mary Lou Previti

Research Support Specialist

Catherine Costanzo

Undergraduate Student, Biomedical Engineering

Amgad Ghoprial

Undergraduate Student, Biochemistry

Jennifer Wang

High School Student (Great Neck South)

Office location: 448 Centers for Molecular Medicine

Lab location:  435 Centers for Molecular Medicine

Lab phone:  631-632-4144